High School Sports

Vancleave athletic director: ‘I think I have a future star coach on my hands.’

Vancleave baseball coach Daniel Best
Vancleave baseball coach Daniel Best

When Daniel Best interviewed a year ago for assistant baseball and football positions at Vancleave, athletics director Matthew Walters knew there was something different about him.

The former Southern Miss pitcher couldn’t have been more impressive, Walters said. That’s why when VHS baseball coach Daniel Threadgill resigned May 19 to go back to Kossuth, VHS didn’t panic.

Walters confirmed Wednesday that Best has been recommended to replace Threadgill, pending board approval June 19.

“It was a no brainer for me,” Walters said. “He was dynamic. At one point he was actually demonstrating tackling drills inside our meeting room. You just knew the second he walked in there was something different, special about him.

“I think I have a future star coach on my hands. I hope he’s here for a really long time.”

After playing at Southern Miss from 2003-06, Best spent a season with Kansas City Royals Class-A affiliate Idaho Falls before joining the coaching ranks. He spent three years as St. Patrick’s pitching coach and three more at Biloxi as pitching coach and head junior high coach. Following the coaching change at BHS, Best took an assistant position at Neville High in Monroe, Louisiana before returning to the Coast last year as an assistant at VHS.

During his year at VHS Best impressed Walters even more with how he interacted with the young Bulldogs.

“You know he knows the game from his experiences,” Walters said. “But just because you know the game doesn’t mean you can translate it to the kids. He has that way about him, however. You know the kids understand what he’s telling them.”

Best said he’s excited about the opportunity to lead a Bulldog team that will return plenty in 2018.

“Pending the school board’s approval I’m super excited about the opportunity,” he said. “We return a lot of players from last year and have a solid group of kids coming out.

“I’m looking forward to getting to work with all the kids more.”

Vancleave graduates just four seniors from a team that went 17-10. The team boasted a 2.45 staff ERA. Four regulars posted sub-1 ERAs: Hayden Robb (0.21 ERA; 33 2/3 innings), Jon Knight (0.78; 18), and Evan Keith (0.95; 14 2/3). Colton Hipp also posted a 0.95 ERA in 7 1/3 innings.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs