Oneida High School has appointed new head coaches for both baseball and softball, Oneida Special School District Director of Schools Dr. Jeanny Phillips announced last week.
Chad McDowell will be the school’s new baseball coach, while Jason Pike will be its new softball coach.
The men will replace Brian Miracle and Todd Lay, both of whom resigned after this past spring’s seasons.
McDowell will be the third head baseball coach in as many seasons. Miracle replaced Shawn West prior to the start of the 2019 season. He makes the move up from the middle school baseball program, where he was an assistant coach this past season. He will be assisted at the high school level by Paul Shepherd.
“In the search for the right candidate, I was looking for a coach that would be a mentor to our students, had good character, and who valued our students above all else,” Phillips said. “The right candidate also had to meet the expectations and goals I had put in place for the program. Coach McDowell has the expertise and experience needed to fill this position.”
McDowell is a non-faculty coach; he works in sales.
One of the tasks that await the next coaching staff may be to mend a rift that developed between Oneida and Scott High. After an unprecedented level of sports cooperation between the two schools in recent years, there was discontent in baseball that stemmed from controversy at the annual preseason tournament at Bear Creek this year. The fallout included both regular season games between the schools being canceled, and it carried over into other sports. To that end, McDowell is likely well-positioned to bridge the gap. His father-in-law, Harris Keeton, is a long-time color commentator for Scott High football on WBNT radio. Originally from Kingston, McDowell married Jatolia Keeton.
At the middle school level, McDowell was part of a staff that helped lead the school’s baseball program to new heights in 2019. The program stormed through the regular season, rarely losing.
Phillips said that McDowell and Shepherd “were the most qualified people to apply for the positions and their knowledge of the fundamentals were the key components for their hire.”
On the softball side, Pike is hardly a stranger to Oneida athletics. The former OHS quarterback is currently the head coach of the middle school boys program. Like McDowell, he is a non-faculty coach; he works in law enforcement at the Scott County Sheriff’s Office.
Pike replaces Todd Lay, who was at the helm of the program for several seasons after Phil Newport resigned.
“Coach Pike will be an excellent leader for our girls softball program,” Phillips said. “The selection of Coach Pike represents what I expect in a coach at Oneida: good character, a mentor to players, a positive role model, and someone who, most importantly, puts our students first. I have high expectations for this program and know that Coach Pike will do a great job.
“I would like to ask that all athletes, students, parents and our community support Coach Pike and provide assistance any way possible,” Phillips added.
Oneida’s baseball program is just four years removed from a state tournament appearance; the Indians advanced to Murfreesboro in 2015 to conclude a 20-win season. The softball program won 25 games in 2016, finishing one step short of the substate.