Matthews moving on to C.B. Aycock
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 8, 2007 2:02 AM
DUDLEY -- Scheduling quality opponents, devising lineups and compiling scouting reports caused little trouble for Brad Matthews during his tenure as Southern Wayne head varsity softball coach.
His toughest decision came after the season. When David West announced his shocking resignation from perennial powerhouse Charles B. Aycock in early May, Matthews quickly became the No. 1 choice as West's successor.
"Do I stay or go?" wondered Matthews.
Matthews' decision, like West, came down to family. Both of his boys are enrolled in elementary school in the northwest part of Wayne County and will eventually attend C.B. Aycock.
"Aycock is my home and that's where I wanted to be," said Matthews, who also coached women's tennis. "It was a very tough decision."
In eight seasons, Matthews posted 103 victories and guided Southern Wayne to three straight trips to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A playoffs from 2005-07. The Saints compiled a school-record 23 wins this past spring and came within one win of reaching the final four.
Eight starters are expected to return, including sophomore right-hander Lauren Darden, who earned all-ECC honors and was selected the 2007 News-Argus All-Area pitcher of the year.
Assistant coach Michael Wiggs assume the head-coaching role for the Saints.
"They're in good hands. I can promise you that," said Matthews.
A former player in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, Wiggs deliberated on accepting the position. The Mount Olive College graduate owns a yard business on the side, and wondered if he could sacrifice the extra income to become a full-time coach.
"I love them both," Wiggs said of landscaping and coaching softball. "But I decided with the group of girls we've got and things that have been set in stone with Brad there, I would continue the program.
"That puts me in a good situation because I won't have to make a lot of changes. The fundamentals have been put in place. We may add some things to keep it alive for the future."
Matthews leaves a women's tennis program that has grown competitive over the past two seasons. All six starters, including four rising juniors, should put the Saints in position to challenge for their first-ever NCHSAA dual-team playoff berth.
Southern Wayne principal Tim Harrell is undecided on Matthews' replacement.
"I hate to lose him because he's done an excellent job with the softball and tennis program," said Harrell. "I do understand the move is better for him and his family. I think he'll do a great job over there and keep that program going strong like it's traditionally been over the years."
Matthews will face a challenge at Aycock, which has captured five consecutive ECC regular-season championships. Nearly half the team graduated, including two-time ECC player of the year Julia Lancaster. One pitcher and a couple of infielders should return next spring, along with a talented corps of underclassmen from Norwayne Middle School.
The Cobras haven't lost a regular-season game since 1999 and haven't been scored upon since the 2005 season.
"Aycock has always had a good program and will always have a good program because they have good feeder programs," said Matthews, a 1992 graduate of CBA. "They love the game and that's what it takes. David lost a lot, so we're going to start from scratch.
"I have no nerves about taking over the program. I'll give them all I've got to get them prepared. When it comes game time, they've got to get the job done."
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