Pearl River Community College will recommend Michael Avalon as its new head baseball coach to the school's Board of Trustees at its June 16 meeting, the school announced on Friday.
Avalon's hiring will become official once the Board of Trustees acts on the recommendation. He was chosen from a list of 35 applicants.
Avalon has been the head coach at Mississippi Delta Community College the past five seasons, taking the Trojans to the MACJC playoffs four times, and was an assistant coach at East Central Community College for five seasons prior to taking the job at MDCC.
"We feel really confident in our decision that this is the guy we want to lead our program," said Adam Breerwood, vice president for the Poplarville and Hancock County campuses, who headed the search committee. "He brings everything to the table we wanted for our coach."
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Under Avalon's guidance, the Trojans were consistently among the best in the state and in the nation in team grade-point average, finishing either first or second in the MACJC for the first four years of his tenure, with verification of the 2016 results pending.
He also raised more than $200,000 for the MDCC program, resulting in a number of upgrades to the facility on the Moorhead campus. Through 2015, he has sent 36 players to four-year programs, including 12 Division I players.
"I am ecstatic to be here,' said Avalon. "I believe God has a plan for you, and I believe this is a door that has been opened for me. I had a good feeling about the process right from the beginning."
Avalon, 34, is a native of Jackson and played high school ball as a pitcher for Tommy Groves at Forest Hill High School. He played two seasons at Holmes Community College (2001-02) and was a second team All-State selection as a sophomore. He was named to the HCC Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
"When I was at Holmes, we played in the regional at PRCC, and I'll never forget the feeling when I came here, just the atmosphere, the field, the passion the fans had for the game," Avalon said. "Passion is big for me. I coach with passion, and it's obvious that the people here are passionate about Pearl River baseball."
After leaving Holmes, Avalon, spent a year at Lincoln Memorial University (Tenn.), then completed his playing career in 2004 at West Alabama. He served two seasons as graduate assistant at UWA, helping the Tigers reach the NCAA Division II regionals both seasons.
Avalon believes strongly in recruiting locally as much as possible, and the presence of so many powerful high school programs in South Mississippi was a big selling point for the PRCC job.
"There are a lot of resources here, and those programs are part of that," Avalon said. "The coaching at the high school level in this area is second to none in the state, and we are going to lean heavily on the area's talent."
Avalon takes over a team that was 25-21 overall this past season, but just 10-18 in conference play. The Wildcats have not made the playoffs the past two seasons.