Over this past summer, changes came to the UMHB athletic department. Both the softball and baseball programs lost their head coaches and had to start looking for replacements to fill the vital positions.
Since then, both teams have filled the empty spots with what the athletic department said are excellent selections.
Micah Wells left the head baseball coach position to start a teaching position and to spend more time with his family. The Cru’s assistant and pitching coach Derek Dunaway was named head coach in his stead.
Dunaway has been connected to UMHB for many years. Not only has he been part of the coaching staff for the team for five years, Dunaway also attended the university and was on the baseball team while a student here.
He knows losing Wells is hard for the school, but is eager to show what he can do for the team.
“It was sad. He gave me the opportunity to coach at my alma mater. But he had to make some decisions for himself and I’m happy for him, and I hope everything works out for him,” Dunaway said. “It was a sad day but a happy day at the same time because I’m getting the opportunity to be the head coach.”
Dunaway said he will be the same coach he has always been. One thing, however, that will change will be the uniforms. The team will be sporting new hats and uniforms that have signature baseball stripes in the spring.
One other thing that will be making a switch is the team’s attitude.
“Last four years we’ve made it to the conference tournament, and in 2008 we were the West Division champions, but it’s time to take it to the next level. Win the conference, get to the NCAA playoffs, win a national championship. And that’s our goal this year. It’s a bold goal, but you got to aim high to get your goals,” Dunaway said.
As for softball, that’s a slightly different story. For 12 years, Larry Hennig was the softball coach at Temple College. Now, however, Hennig has been named the head softball coach for the Cru.
“It was pretty exciting for me. I’ve been following this program for many years, and I was very much aware of the accomplishments,” he said. “Quite honestly, the lure of coaching a four year school and having players for four-years was something that I really liked. I was very attracted to it.”
The softball team will also be having improvements to the Dee Dillon Field and facility.
Of course, everyone wants a great sports season, but Hennig would like the women to take something more away from playing on a collegiate team than just that.
“My goal for the spring is for this to be a rewarding experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives,” he said.
Catcher for the Crusader baseball team is junior marketing major Chris Joshlin who has been with them since freshman year. He knows Dunaway pretty well and hopes the transition is a smooth one.
Joshlin said, “I’ve never really seen him in the leadership role. What he’s shown these past three weeks is a positive thing.”