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Darton State College looking for new softball coach

Larry Willis steps down as Darton softball coach

Larry Willis

Larry Willis

ALBANY — For the second time in the last four months, the Darton softball program is looking for a new head coach.

Interim coach Larry Willis, who stepped in as head coach after David Dews resigned in July, handed in his resignation last week. Former Darton baseball coach Glenn Eames is taking over the team in an interim role, and Eames said on Tuesday that a number of qualified applicants have already shown interest.

“We got a couple of really, really good leads (Monday),” Eames said. “We want a quality coach, one that will be here a really long time and one that will promote the program the way that we want it to be promoted. And I think we might have all three of those things with the leads we got (Monday).”

Darton athletic director Mike Kiefer said he hopes the hiring process is speedy and efficient.

“The sooner the better, but when you are dealing with the holidays it sometimes poses a challenge and slows things up,” Kiefer said. “But we want someone to come in and give us a number of years so that we can have some stability in the program.”

Willis couldn’t be reached by The Herald on Tuesday, but Eames said he was “shocked” when Willis handed in his resignation.

“We were hoping it would work out with him, but because of personal reasons he decided he needed to do something else,” Eames said. “I’m not sure what that was, but to be honest with you it was a shock to me.”

Willis, a long-time and well-respected travel ball coach in Alabama, was brought in as Darton’s assistant coach in the middle of last season when assistant Gene Dews — David Dews’ father — had to resign due to health issues.

David Dews, who had coached the Lady Cavs for six years and took them to multiple national championship tournaments, accepted a head coaching job at NAIA school Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) College in July, and Willis was given the program in a temporary capacity.

Now it’s Eames time to serve in an interim role.

“I was kind of surprised to be asked to do it,” said Eames, who coached the Darton baseball team for 16 years and also built and maintained the grounds for the softball field. “I understand the situation, though, and will do whatever I can for the girls and the program.”

Counting interim coaches Willis and Eames, a new hire for next season would give several of the Darton softball players a fourth head coach in less than six months.

“I know it’s tough on them. They liked Larry, but at the same time he wasn’t the full-time head coach like David Dews was,” Eames said. “Our expectations right now are to find an applicant that is not only very qualified but also one that will give stability to the program. Yeah, we want to hurry up and get this done. But at the same time, we want to make sure to get the right person.”