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Richmond Hill hires new baseball coach
Chris Jenkins
Wildcats' Head Coach Chris Jenkins during region championship game against Effingham - photo by Gerald Thomas III

RICHMOND HILL, GA -- Richmond Hill High School didn’t have to look far to find its new baseball coach.

It was literally taking a walk down the hall and turning a corner to find Scott Strickland’s replacement. Strickland resigned in September for personal reasons after two years guiding the Wildcats.

Assistant athletic director Stacy Bennett announced Tuesday afternoon softball coach Chris Jenkins will coach the Wildcats next spring, albeit on what amounts to an interim basis.

Jenkins, who spent 18 years as a softball and baseball coach at Jasper County High School before being hired as the softball coach at Richmond Hill, confirmed his taking the job and pointed out it was not his intention to retain the position on a long-term basis.

“I didn’t apply for the job,” Jenkins said. “I was content using the spring to be a Dad and run some offseason softball workouts.

“I hoped they would find a great fit to run the baseball program for years to come,” Jenkins said. “This place has been great to me and my family from Day One so when Mickey (athletic director Mickey Bayens) and Stacy asked me to consider interviewing there’s no way I was going to turn them down."

“This is a one-year deal for me. When you factor in the area, the quality of schools, Board level, community and administrative support, outstanding middle school, recreation and travel programs and overall talent this is a Top 10 baseball job.”

Bennett said Jenkins was one of five applicants interviewed for the position and his willingness  to step up to the plate and coach what should be a strong team will enable the school to conduct a more exhaustive search for a replacement.

“The timing of hiring a coach and teacher is tricky this time of year because of contracts and commitments.

“He has a proven body of work that is built on a high baseball IQ along with simplicity and discipline and we felt that was a great fit and match with the current players and parents. He is such a team player at Richmond Hill High School as a whole as well.”

Bennett could be construed as the father of the current Richmond Hill program that under his guidance has become one of consistency in player development and winning. He stepped down two years ago to move into administration and Strickland, a long-time assistant, succeeded him.

The Wildcats will return a strong contingent from last year’s team which lost to eventual state champion Houston County in the second round of the GHSA Class 6A state playoffs.

Heading the returnees are Georgia commit Leighton Finley and Georgia State commit Luke Boone along with pitcher Hunter Legas, outfielder Evan Cowan, infielder Ethan Fuller, outfielder Jalen Varnedoe and first baseman Ty Goldrick.

This fall Jenkins guided the softball team to a strong finish marked by both improved team play and player development. The Lady Cats surprised many by finishing second in the Region 2-6A tournament and reaching the second round of the state playoffs.

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