Hayes named Region XX Softball Coach of the Year
Ex-EHS skipper guides ’Jacks to first title in 28 seasons
WYE MILLS Chesapeake College head women’s softball coach Durrie Hayes has been named the NJCAA Division II Region XX Coach of the Year.
Hayes was named coach of the year after leading the Skipjacks to a school-record 23 wins and their first Region XX women’s softball championship since 1981. His Skipjacks also became just the second Chesapeake College team to qualify for a national tournament, following the 2005 baseball squad.
"Durrie’s a proven winner who knows the game inside and out," said Chesapeake College Athletic Director Frank Szymanski, who hired Hayes in the summer of 2007. "He’s dedicated to his profession and it shows."
Hayes, who coached Easton High School to three state titles before moving to Chesapeake, engineered a stunning turnaround with the Skipjacks.
Chesapeake was 6-17 in Hayes’ first season as head coach and started the 2009 campaign 3-8 before winning 20 of the next 25 games to claim the region crown. The Skipjacks had plenty of signature wins, going a combined 5-2 against Region XX runner-up Cecil College and third-place finisher CCBC-Dundalk. They also handed eventual Division III national champion Tompkins Cortland two of its 12 losses.
"You hope for that quick turnaround," said Hayes. "I thought we’d be competitive. We tried to set our goals to be realistic goals. That meant in the top two or three in the conference. . . . Things just fell into place for us. The girls just performed they’re the ones that did the job."
Hayes credited assistant coach Mike Hawkins with playing a pivotal role in Chesapeake’s spectacularly successful season.
"Mike took over calling pitches in Florida, and he sort of took that ball and ran with it," said Hayes. "He also did a great job with our outfielders the improvement from beginning to end was incredible. I absolutely could not have done this without Mike."
Hayes, who came to Chesapeake after compiling a 232-45 record at Easton High, said moving up to the JuCo level required some adjustments.
"The girls are different. You wouldn’t think that one year would make that big a difference, but it seems to," said Hayes. "And the recruiting is pretty much a nightmare it’s not 24/7, but I think I spent about 350 days (of the year) at it. It just never stops. I went home Monday night and sent out 60-some emails to recruits uncommitted kids.
"It’s just so much more work than high school," added Hayes, comparing the two coaching levels. "In order to be successful, it’s every day that you’ve got to do something.
"Fundraising is another big part of it," Hayes continued. "The college did a fantastic job supporting us in every way we could be supported travel to the World Series, equipment, uniforms. The college doesn’t pay for scholarships neither do the other schools so we have to raise it ourselves through the annual golf tournament and other fundraising opportunities."
Hayes said one of the challenges in building a contending JuCo program is constantly assimilating new players from various high school programs.
"It’s certainly a challenge everybody runs their cutoff differently, everybody runs their double steal differently," said Hayes. "What we have to do is say, ’This is the way we do it here.’ Practice and repetition is how you get past that. We practice every day that we’re not playing."
Hayes believes the Skipjacks have the opportunity to become a regular region title contender now that he has had a couple of years to establish his program.
"Last year it was all new everyone trying to fit into our program," recalled Hayes. "I had three sophomores coming back this year, and now I think I have six freshmen from this year’s team who will be coming back as sophomores next year.
"I think that’s the number you want six-to-eight sophomores every year," said Hayes. "I’m hoping to carry 14 or 15 players, allowing us to keep seven or eight a year (from the previous team) and recruit seven or eight a year."
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