05/24/05 — Daily double: Rosewood introduces two new coaches

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Daily double: Rosewood introduces two new coaches

By Neil Fuller
Published in Sports on May 24, 2005 2:13 PM

A hometown boy.

A longtime assistant.

Patience and loyalty have a way of paying off -- and two coaches hit the daily double at Rosewood High School on Monday afternoon.

"Growing up, I always wanted to come back home. ... I love this place," former Eagles player Josh Smith said after officially inheriting the Rosewood baseball program. "I'll probably be here for the next 30 years. It's just a dream come true. I can't describe how I feel."

New softball coach Debbie Bailey -- a seven-year assistant at Rosewood -- was more business-like after being introduced to the media.

She has one thing on her mind: building a winning program.

"The (Class 1-A Carolina) conference title could be left to whoever decides to go after it the hardest," Bailey said. "It is reasonable to expect instant improvement."

Any improvement will likely be generated by the Rosewood batting order in 2005. A light-hitting Eagles squad produced just three wins against Carolina 1-A competition this past season.

But Bailey will have a solid corps of veterans returning -- including four seniors and five juniors.

"Fundamentally, I think our team will be very sound," she said. "We held our own defensively, but hitting is a concern. We lacked a lot at the plate.

"If the girls feel successful, that will be the main goal."

Smith has little rebuilding to do. The Eagles remained in contention for one of the conference's two available N.C. High School Athletic Association playoff spots until their final game in 2004.

Rosewood finished with a 12-8 overall record.

"We're in great shape," Smith said. "I don't ever see the competition level in our conference dropping off. But we have a strong tradition here, and I expect to continue that."

The Eagles are losing staff ace Dustin Overman -- and his microscopic 1.31 ERA -- to graduation. Still, Smith feels he has the knowledge of both the area and its athletes to fill in any holes for next season.

"You can't really fill the shoes of a player like Dustin right away," he said. "But I've had a chance to get to know these kids. I've gotten to see the strengths and weaknesses of the people in this program.

"I watched all these kids grow up."

Judging by his excitement at the podium inside the school's media center, Smith is likely to be around to see one or two more generations of kids in the Rosewood community grow up around him.

And the job begins now.

"I want us to continue to improve," Smith said. "I want us to continue to be a family."

Notes: Rosewood last qualified for the N.C. High School Athletic Association baseball playoffs in 2002. ... Former softball coach Jennifer Cochran will remain at the school and retain her role as head of the volleyball program.