Rhodes takes over Baux­ite soft­ball

The Saline Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By Tony Le­na­han tle­na­[email protected]­ton­courier.com

BAUX­ITE – The Baux­ite Lady Min­ers soft­ball team will have a new face at the helm for the up­com­ing sea­son. Af­ter state cham­pi­onship win­ning (2018) Coach Sara Tew moved on to coach at Carlisle, for­mer Ben­ton sev­enth grade vol­ley­ball coach Madeleine Rhodes re­turns to her true love of soft­ball, lead­ing the Lady Min­ers for the 2020 sea­son.

“Every­body kind of knows that soft­ball is my thing and my love, so when the job got posted, I hon­estly didn’t see it,” Rhodes said. “A few peo­ple told me about it and I went and ap­plied and did the interview process.”

The rest was his­tory, and though this will be Rhodes’ first high school head-coach­ing po­si­tion, the 25-yearold has had plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence in the sport she played at Ri­son High School and then at Central Bap­tist Col­lege in Con­way.

“I’ve coached pri­vate lessons and done tour­na­ment soft­ball for years, but this is my first high school head­coach­ing job,” she said. “Soft­ball has been my thing for­ever. I went and played in col­lege for a lit­tle bit, and then when I was done with that and teach­ing, I still wanted to be in­volved with it. My fam­ily is a soft­ball fam­ily, so it’s re­ally ex­cit­ing to be back on the soft­ball side. I love vol­ley­ball and bas­ket­ball, I’m just ex­cited to be back with soft­ball.”

Rhodes also as­sisted in sev­enth grade bas­ket­ball and track at Ben­ton and knows she has some big shoes to fill with Tew’s ab­sence as the Lady Min­ers went 137-28 the past five sea­sons, which included the school’s first state cham­pi­onship in 2018 and also a runner-up fin­ish in 2015.

“At Baux­ite with the tra­di­tion of ex­cel­lence and the stan­dards there,” Rhodes be­gan, “they al­ready have a great pro­gram that Coach (Sara) Tew had al­ready built, so it’s re­ally nice to come in and know there’s al­ready a great pro­gram set up and I can help build on to that. I’m re­ally, re­ally ex­cited to be there.

“I’m re­ally thank­ful to be part of a school that’s go­ing to sup­port this team. They al­ready have a strong pro­gram built and a strong sys­tem of sup­port for the girls, so I’m re­ally ex­cited to build on to that.”

And Rhodes said the fu­ture looks bright for the Lady Min­ers.

“There’s a lot of young tal­ent that’s al­ready there and for the next few years, just from me coach­ing in the area with tour­na­ment soft­ball, I know the next few years there’s kids com­ing in ev­ery year that love this game,” she said. “With only los­ing a few se­niors and the young tal­ent that is com­ing in, I ex­pect us to have a re­ally great sea­son. Past that, I be­lieve with the girls at Baux­ite that will be com­ing through the pro­gram over the next few years, we will be able to just con­tinue to build and grow the soft­ball pro­gram.”

Rhodes isn’t the only Baux­ite newbie. Spencer Gay, who went 24-4 for Stuttgart last sea­son, was named Baux­ite’s girls bas­ket­ball coach tak­ing over for Josh Harrison. Tommy Britt takes over the boys soc­cer team, Tyler Shaw is the new coach for the boys track team, Clark Smith will be at the helm for the cross coun­try team and Rus­sell John­son will as­sist with base­ball and foot­ball.


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