East Ridge High School is going back in its history to try to move forward in softball.
Bobby Hudgens, a 1974 East Ridge graduate, is the school's new head coach. A banker and longtime girls' travel-ball coach, he is in the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame for his fastpitch playing career.
His assistant is Bill Adkins, who helped him for years with a Frost Falcons team and whose daughter Ashley is a former standout pitcher for East Ridge. Adkins works for a chemical plant. He met Hudgens as a pitcher on the ninth-grade baseball team Hudgens coached at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe his first year out of college.
"I'm really excited about this, because they're so excited themselves," said athletic director Catherine Neely, backed by principal Tammy Helton. "They've coached together so long, and with their ties to East Ridge I feel we're going to get something going."
Hudgens, 63, was an all-city Pioneers place-kicker who went to Vanderbilt on a football scholarship and also played baseball for the Commodores. After two years there he played both sports at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
One of his daughters pitched for Boyd-Buchanan and then Cleveland State. Another played for the old David Brainerd School, where Hudgens was the coach for one season. His 1998-2006 time with the Falcons resulted in more than 300 wins, seven consecutive years in ASA national tournaments, fifth-place ASA and NSA national finishes one year, a fourth in the prestigious Fireworks tournament in Denver in 2004 and numerous state and region top-two showings.
About venturing now into high school coaching, Hudgens said, "I'd just like to help see the program get back on track. They had some really strong teams a few years ago. We have a young team, but I'm looking forward to working with them and trying to share knowledge of the game.
"Some people like to hunt and fish. I like to be on a ballfield."
Contact Ron Bush at email@example.com or 423-757-6291.