A familiar face is returning to guide the Anderson County High School baseball program.
On Friday, Cory Stooksbury was named head coach of the Mavericks, replacing Ben Downs, who resigned last month.
“It’s my dream job. I decided pretty early in high school I wanted to teach and coach. I always said then on, I’d like to come back to Anderson County to teach and coach,” said Stooksbury, a native of Lake City and a 2007 ACHS graduate.
From Anderson County, Stooksbury went first to Cleveland State and finished his undergraduate studies at Tennessee-Martin. Stooksbury was a middle infielder for his college teams just as he was with the Mavericks during his high school career.
He spent a year as an assistant coach at Karns and one year (2014) as an assistant to Downs at ACHS.
Stooksbury then went to Scott High, where he spent two years as head coach before taking over the Union County High School program last year.
In his only year at Union County, the Patriots made an appearance in the region tournament. Stooksbury sets a high bar for the Mavericks.
“I have one general expectation for Anderson County and that’s where we set the bar my junior year and get to the state tournament. I’d just like to take the team Coach Downs has built — he’s done a great job with the program — and take it to the next level,” he said.
Stooksbury added that Downs, now serving as principal at ACHS, has been very supportive.
“He’s already called me a couple of to ask me if I’m still on Cloud Nine and offer his full support. That means a lot to know you’re gong to have support going in,” he said.
Stooksbury said his in game philosophy is simple.
“I like to play small ball and put pressure on the defense and be really aggressive on the bases. You can’t live and die by the home run anymore. When I was in high school, we hit 30-40 home runs as a team — that doesn’t happen anymore. I play for one run an inning. If you score seven runs, you’ve got a really good chance to win,” he said.
Stooksbury added playing sound defense is another key to success.
“It’s confidence. Baseball, more than any other sport, requires confidence. If you don’t have confidence, you’re out before you ever get in the box. And if you’re not confident in the field, the ball is going to be hit to you and you’re not going to make the play,” he said.
“I think player development is where the confidence can come from. I’m a firm believer in breaking down everything you can and make it as minimal and simple as possible. And it takes a little bit for the guys to understand what they’re doing. As a baseball player, no matter how far your career takes you, you always develop. You never hit a place where you’re good enough.”
Stooksbury is hopeful that the current coaching staff — Josh Boyton, Logan Wampler, and Taylor Foster — will remain in place.
He said if there is one person he could add as a volunteer assistant to work with pitchers, it is former Mavericks’ standout Taylor Durand, who recently retired after a stint in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.
“The only change I’d like to see would be an addition,” Stooksbury said.
He added there are so many people he would like to thank but especially the administration for giving him the opportunity to return to ACHS.