Whitwell High School recently hired Derrin Easterly as its softball coach. He succeeds Grace Pickett, who resigned after last season.
Whitwell principal Josh Holtcamp said he had to consider hiring someone already working at the school after Pickett made her decision, because there was no faculty position available. Easterly teaches engineering.
"I thought about some potential candidates," Holtcamp said. "He's the one I went with."
Easterly played baseball at Whitwell in the late 1990s, then concluded his prep career playing at Marion County, where he graduated in 2000. He then played two years at Chattanooga State and two at King College in Bristol, Tenn.
Easterly has some experience, having coached his sister Katie's summer softball team for five years. The last was in 2009, right after Katie completed her Whitwell career.
"Baseball is pretty well taken care of at Whitwell," Easterly said. "I wanted to get back in the dirt and in between the lines. I didn't think I'd have the opportunity to have this job. I have a lot of respect for Grace and everything she's done here. I'm just really excited about the opportunity."
Pickett guided the Lady Tigers to a third-place finish in the Class A state tournament last season. They won the Region 3 tournament after finishing as District 6 runners-up.
"Softball at Whitwell is competitve," Holtcamp said. "My expectations are to get back to the state tournament. I think he understands my expectations."
Easterly said he likes an aggressive approach to playing the game, and he does understand the program's expectations.
"My goal is definitely to win the district, win the region, get back to the state tournament and see what we can do there," he said.
Holtcamp said Randy Coppinger, who assisted Pickett, will remain on the coaching staff.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.