New IWA coach picks up where Reynolds left off

Published 9:04 am Friday, April 29, 2011

ISLE OF WIGHT—The Isle of Wight Academy softball team has spent the season building on its already storied legacy.

Two years after taking over for legendary coach Jack Reynolds — who retired from coaching after 33 years — and a year removed from another state tournament appearance, Chris Hooper has the Lady Chargers at 9-1, poised for another deep run.

The Lady Chargers have allowed 27 runs this season, while scoring a total of 115 in 10 games. They have a 7-0 record in the Metro Conference with the tournament starting Monday, May 9.

Following in Reynolds’ footsteps — who finished his coaching career with four state titles and a record of 431-114 — has not been too difficult for Hooper because of the players and the system.

“The program was already in place,” Hooper said.

The team has a good mix of youth and experience, he said with only one senior and some quality junior varsity players ready to step up.

“Everything is in place, and we should have quality players for the next few years,” Hooper said.

Many players have a lot of experience; 10 out of 12 play on club softball teams when not competing at the school level.

“They are all very familiar with how to play the game, but I try to get them to come together as a team,” Hooper said. “They come here with pretty good fundamentals, but I try to find the small weaknesses and work on game situations. I work a lot on the mental side of the game.”

The Lady Chargers’ only loss this season came at the hands of Matthews High School 4-0. IWA was scheduled to play Matthews again Wednesday in Isle of Wight, but the game was cancelled due to weather.

Hooper said the team tried to schedule tougher competition this year to give the girls a chance to face quality pitchers. IWA played against Kenston Forest, Mattews, Windsor High School and Tidewater Academy to better prepare for postseason tournaments.

“The more quality pitchers you face, the more prepared you are for the conference and state tournament,” Hooper said. “Our hitting struggled during last year’s state tournament because we didn’t face enough quality pitching last year.”

IWA has upcoming home games against Atlantic Shores on Monday, May 2, and Broadwater Academy on Friday, May 5.