By Lisa Schlichtman
For the past seven years, Rod Hemphill has served as Cassville High School's head baseball coach and this spring he announced his retirement.
This week, Hemphill has been honored as the Big 8 Conference's Coach of the Year, which is a fitting way for the dedicated coach to leave behind the post he's held for the past 11 years.
This season, the Wildcats earned their fourth Big 8 baseball title under Hemphill's leadership. During his tenure at Cassville, Hemphill has amassed a very impressive 171-65 record, which has included Big 8 championships in 2001, 2006, 2008 and 2009 and a district championship title in 2000.
This is also not the first time Hemphill has earned Coach of the Year honors. He was tapped as the top coach in the Big 8 in 2000, 2001, 2006, 2008 and 2009.
Before coming to Cassville, Hemphill, a graduate of College of the Ozarks, coached at Galena for seven years where he had an overall record of 141 wins and 57 losses. Under his coaching, the Bears were district champions for five years running from 1985 through 1989.
In 1985, Galena won the Class 1 state championship and Hemphill was named 1A Coach of the Year. The team was a state quarterfinalist in 1986.
Hemphill's coaching careers also includes three years as assistant coach at Reeds Spring and one year as assistant coach at Ozark.
In announcing his retirement from coaching at Cassville, Hemphill said there are a lot of people who have contributed to his coaching success over the past 11 years.
"I would like to thank all the people who made my coaching career at Cassville an enjoyable one," said Hemphill. "We had a pretty good run, and I would like to thank all the administration, coaches, parents, and most of all, the players for the last 11 years.
"Thank you Cassville for making my wife and family feel at home for the last 11 years," Hemphill added.
Both Hemphill and his wife, Tina, will continue to teach at Cassville.
More Big 8 honors
In addition to Hemphill's Coach of the Year honors, players on the 2009 squad also received All-Big 8 Conference recognition.
Senior Aaron Jamieson was named Big 8 Player of the Year, which is the first time a Cassville Wildcat player has received this honor. Jamieson was also named to the first team as a utility player.
The Wildcats had four other players make the All-Big 8 first team. Junior Travis Northern was a first team pitcher and senior Aaron Brooks was a first team shortstop. Seniors Cody Pierson and Jake Nolan were also honored with first team honors as outfielder and designated hitter respectively.
"Coach Kyle Wood and I are very proud of these players and our whole team for the successful season," said Hemphill.
He did add that he was expecting to have more Wildcat players named to the All-Big 8 second team and honorable mention team.