High School Sports

St. Martin hires new baseball coach from North Mississippi


Kary Bridges heard the word "potential" used a lot when he asked around about St. Martin.

Athletics director Jesse Kanode saw "instant credibility" when Bridges' application pinged into his inbox.

Potential and instant credibility met Monday when the Yellow Jackets AD confirmed Monday that Bridges has been selected to head up the school's baseball program.

Bridges replaces Chris Blake, who resigned after posting a 16-38 record in two seasons at St. Martin.

The hire is pending the school board's approval on June 13.

"He's a big-time name in Mississippi baseball. He had a great visit down here, said some good things, specifically about his time in the (New York) Yankees organization, like exuding class and playing the game the right way," Kanode told the Sun Herald Monday. "He also studied at the feet of giants like Joe Torre, Don Zimmer and Don Kessinger."

Bridges was a standout at Ole Miss from 1991-93 before being drafted in the 10th round of the 1993 MLB draft by the Houston Astros. He went on to hit .296 in 10 seasons -- seven at Triple-A -- in the minors with the Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Montreal Expos and New York Yankees.

Bridges traded his glove and bat for a lineup card following the 2002 season and has found success throughout Mississippi's prep ranks. Among his stops, he spent four years at Oak Grove -- including two as the head coach. Most recently, Bridges spent the last six seasons leading Class 3A Water Valley, where he posted a 118-66 record.

At Water Valley, Bridges' teams had the reputation of playing hard and with an edge. He expects the new Yellow Jackets to have the same demeanor.

"We're going to be aggressive," Bridges told the Sun Herald. "We want to get off the bus swinging the bats and take the fight to them and at the end of the game we'll see what happens.

"I always want to have a team that plays to win and not a team that plays afraid of something bad happening."

Asked about the St. Martin gig, Bridges said the chance to coach in Class 6A once again on the Coast was too good to pass up.

"Any good coach wants to coach at the highest level. This is an opportunity to be on the Coast again with their great traditions," he said. "It makes you wonder if I've lost my mind to want to come down and compete against all those great programs.

"I'm just excited for the opportunity. I keep using the word exciting, but it's exciting to be a part of a great school district and exciting to compete again against the other seven region school."

The Yellow Jackets are coming off of a 6-21 win season where they struggled to win a region game. In looking at St. Martin's 2016 schedule, Bridges noticed a lot of one- and two-run losses.

"We look forward to trying to turn some of those one-run games around," Bridges said. "We feel confident we'll be able to win at St. Martin."

Coaching moves

Other coaching moves include: Former D'Iberville coach Donna Swilley taking over the softball program full-time; Ryan Ceccorulli will be recommended as the girls soccer coach; Justin Williamson will take over the volleyball program.

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