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Hard charger:

Pierce takes reigns at TSU

By KEVIN PEARCEY

Sports Editor

Bobby Pierce was named Troy State’s 11th head baseball coach by TSU Athletic Director Johnny Williams in a press conference held at the Tine Davis Fieldhouse on Wednesday.

Pierce comes to Troy from the University of Alabama-Huntsville, a Division II program which the 42-year-old started in 1995.

Williams said the university received 118 applications for the job vacancy left by John Mayotte, whose contract was not renewed in May following the Trojans’ 2002 season.

"It’s refreshing to know that there was that level of interest in our program," said Williams about the applications he and the search committee received.

Pierce thanked his wife, Kay, and his three children for their support in the move.

"Troy is where I wanted to be" he said. "I know it’s going to be a change for them, but I have a great family and we’re very, very happy to be here. It’s a chance for us to get close to home and close to family. I haven’t had the opportunity to do that in 12 years."

Pierce originally hails from Marianna, Fla., about an hour and a half drive from Troy.

In fact, Pierce actually enrolled as a freshman at Troy State in 1977 before eventually finding a home at the University of Alabama where he was an All-SEC outfielder in 1981. He was also named to the Crimson Tide’s All-Century Team.

Joining Pierce is two assistant coaches, Mark Smartt, who was member of TSU’s Division II national championship teams in the late 80s, and Todd Lamberth, who coached and played under Pierce at UAH.

Pierce said he and his staff are still in the evaluation stage as far as the Trojans’ baseball program is concerned.

"We have a lot of planning to do," he said. "But I’m a firm believer in the student-athlete, players that do well in the classroom. In recruiting, I’d like to recruit kids from this area…south Alabama and Georgia and north Florida."

He said he felt very fortunate to be at Troy State.

"It’s a great university that’s real supportive of its athletic programs and that’s evident as growth has been seen across the board," he said.

Pierce said he especially likes the challenge of playing in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

"I think the A-Sun is a good conference and they’ve talked about the possibility of moving into the Sun Belt, which is an excellent baseball conference," he said. "All of those things excite me. I like being in a good baseball league and one that’s going to be recognized regionally and nationally by teams that make regional selections and that sort of thing. I know we have some challenges and that excites me. I really like the staff we’ve been able to put in place and I think we’ll be able to accomplish some goals relatively early."

Chancellor Jack Hawkins and numerous TSU supporters were on hand to welcome Pierce on Wednesday.

Hawkins said it was only fitting that Pierce be hired during Major League Baseball’s All-Star break because he felt Pierce was an "All-Star Coach."

While extending a welcome to Pierce, Hawkins also reflected on what Mayotte, as well as his predecessor Chase Riddle, meant to Troy State’s baseball program.

Prior to his dismissal, Mayotte was the Trojans’ coach for ten years.

"We want to thank John Mayotte. He helped us make the move from Division II to 1-A," said Hawkins. "Sometimes we forget that we stand on the shoulders of giants."

Riddle led the Trojans to two national titles in 1986 and 1987.

"One only has to look around Troy and see the dozen or so young men named ‘Chase’ to know what he meant to this program," Hawkins said of Riddle.