Westview taking step into new softball era
Posted: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 12:00 pm
By MIKE HUTCHENS
J.B. Suiter is stepping away from the Westview softball program.
Jessica Hightower is stepping in.
Suiter, who led the Lady Chargers to four straight state tournaments from 2007-10 and 183 wins during his seven seasons, has handed over the reins of the team to Hightower, his assistant the past three years.
The transition was brought about by Suiter’s desire for more family time and to also focus on his pursuit of a doctorate degree. He plans to continue in his other coaching role with the Westview boys’ basketball program.
“I have four big commitments in my life and they have been family, school, basketball and softball,” Suiter — who three times directed the softball program to 30 or more wins in a season — told The Press. “At the end of the day, family is always going to be No. 1. There were times in the last few years where that wasn’t the case and I didn’t like it.
“Softball has always been a fun job for me, but because of what I put into it, it was demanding time-wise. I love my team and my girls, and I’m going to continue to support them in whatever way I can. I’ll still be around the program some, just not really on a regular basis or full-time capacity.”
Hightower, who came to WHS after a three-year stint as head coach at McKenzie and decorated college playing career at UT Martin, will simply move up a seat on the Lady Charger bench.
A Hall of Fame member at UTM who played two years professionally, the Waverly native has headed up the program’s offseason program during her stint as Suiter’s assistant and said she has focused mainly on pitchers and catchers during her stint as Suiter’s aide.
On her 36th birthday Saturday, Hightower, who was Jessica Crosser while pitching for the Skyhawks, said she anticipates continuity in the program to be key to continued success.
“This is not really a total change, since I’ve been an assistant and I expect J.B. to still be around some,” she said. “There will be a few subtle differences, I guess, but I really just hope and expect us to pick right up where we left off in the last few years.”
Westview Athletics Director Jeromy Davidson has endorsed the move, saying, “We’re excited about Coach Hightower taking over and fully expect her to maintain the level of excellence the program has enjoyed over the last several years.”
Hightower said she plans on focusing on hitting as her first order of business.
“We’ve had a great tradition of pitchers here and I think we’re in good shape there with Meagan (Prince) and a couple of upcoming young girls who can throw well,” the new coach said. “But sometimes there’s so much focus on pitching and catching, that hitting gets overlooked a little bit.”
The Lady Chargers, 31-7 last season, will have one senior on this spring’s roster and must replace two-time all-stater Shaylon Robb, who signed with Eastern Kentucky after a stellar four-year career.
Prince, who has verbally committed to Kentucky, is expected to step into that ace role as a junior. Published in The WCP 1.31.12