by MOSES LEOS III
Replacing a legend is always a difficult prospect in the world of sports.
Hays High sports teams have undergone recent changes, but few imagined a switch in the baseball program.
That was the case last summer when long-time Rebel head coach Doug Ragsdale retired, ending a stellar 17-season career, culminating in nine district championships and 14 playoff appearances.
David Null was tabbed as the Rebel baseball head coach in August 2012. He knows he has to maintain the same high standards for this program.
“When you replace a legend, you have to maintain the level of excellence, but you also have to do it in your own way. Coach Ragsdale brought a winning tradition to the baseball program that our team will benefit from. It will be my job to keep the winning tradition alive,” Null said.
Null said that working with Ragsdale gave him experience to step in as a head coach. “When I first started coaching, one of my goals was to learn something from every coach I worked under. Coach Ragsdale was a great mentor in so many ways both on and off the field. Very few people realize the commitment it takes to be a high school coach.”
Despite the change in position – moving from assistant to head coach – Null will be working with familiar faces. He thinks that, having coached the up-and-coming young players in the past, he will be able to keep the Rebel winning tradition.
“I coached the juniors and seniors on this team when they were just freshman. Therefore, I look forward to seeing all the improvement they have made both on the field and off in the last three to four years,” said Null.
The 2013 Hays Rebel program he inherits will be a particularly seasoned one. The team retains six regular starters, including three 2012 first team All-District standouts in third baseman Dalton Niles, second baseman Alex Robles and centerfielder Granger Studdard, who signed on to play for Ty Harrington next year at Texas State in November.
However, Null recognized that his program must play beyond the accolades and statistics to contend this season. “We need for our returning starters to continue with the success that they experienced last year. Alex Robles, (shortstop) Justin Montana, Dalton Niles, (catcher) J.C Cerda, (pitchers) Alec Swofford and Tyler Woodmansee all started for us at some point last year. These players need to be great leaders,” he said
Ultimately for Null, keeping the tradition of Hays baseball success intact is the key, particularly in district play. Hays will be up against four playoff contenders from 2012: Schertz Clemens and Alamo Heights from 27-4A, Kerrville Tivy from 28-4A and Seguin from 25-5A.
Even so, Null remains adamant that he want for his Rebel squad to finish in the playoffs in 2013. “Our goal is to get into the playoffs and make a good playoff run. If we get hot, and our pitching stays healthy, we have the ability to do just that.”