Prep Baseball & Softball

West softball coach steps down to take assistant principal job

Casey Garrett was a standout pitcher at Belleville West and coached the Maroons to 145 wins over nine seasons.
Casey Garrett was a standout pitcher at Belleville West and coached the Maroons to 145 wins over nine seasons. Photo provided

Casey Garrett doesn’t remember a time that she wasn’t involved in fast-pitch softball, but career goals are forcing her off the Southwest Conference’s dusty diamonds and into an office.

The former standout pitcher and longtime coach at Belleville West was hired Wednesday by the District 201 Board of Education as an assistant principal at crosstown East.

In nine seasons as head coach, Garrett led the Maroons to a 145-144 record. She had previously served as an assistant coach under her former coach, Bob Yagge.

“I love coaching, and I love teaching, but it was always part of my career goal to move into administration if the opportunity presented itself,” said Garrett, who frequently pitched batting practice to her players. “I also notice my arm gets a little numb now after throwing to those girls.”

West Athletic Director Lee Meyer said the job vacancy will be posted quickly and that current members of the softball staff may be considered. Kassandra Korte and Phillip Neal were Garrett’s varsity assistants in 2017.

Yagge led the junior varsity Maroons last spring but is also stepping down into an adjunct role, Meyer said. Brian Geluck and Kendra Rakers served as his assistants.

“The job will be posted relatively soon, and we think we’ll get some quality candidates,” Meyer said. “I have spoken to a couple of the assistants, and they know the job will be posted.”

We’ve had so many phenomenal players over the years, but I couldn’t really ask for anything more than to get that regional championship after all those years. It’s a memorable way to go out.

Casey Garrett, former Belleville West softball coach

Prior to coaching at West, Garrett — formerly Casey Hunter — was a standout pitcher for the Maroons. As a senior, she went 22-4 with a 0.15 ERA in leading West to a third-place state finish. Just the year before, she was 12-2 with a 0.48 ERA.

The Millstadt native went on to an All-American collegiate career at Florida State, then played professionally for the New England Riptide and Connecticut Brakettes — both now defunct.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever not been around softball,” said Garrett after pitching in a slow-pitch game. “I’ll still be around. Part of the duty of an assistant principal is to attend events. I’ll still be around because I know if I don’t, I will miss it.”

Garrett assumed the head coaching job from Yagge in 2009 and twice led West to 20-plus win seasons. She was hard-pressed to recall a more enjoyable team than her 17-win Maroons of 2017, however.

Belleville West junior Aleigha Corey drove home senior Kiri Evans with the tying run with two outs in the seventh inning of the O'Fallon Class 4A Regional Tournament. The Maroons scored five in the inning to defeat the host Panthers and advance to

Her final team won eight of its last nine games, including consecutive come-from-behind, two-out, seventh-inning wins to capture the program’s first regional championship in nine years.

“We’ve had so many phenomenal players over the years, but I couldn’t really ask for anything more than to get that regional championship after all those years. It’s a memorable way to go out,” she said. “This current group are really good kids. There are some great personalities, and they are solid athletically and academically.

“The new coach gets some great potential for next year.”

The Maroons will lose key seniors in outfielders Kailey Bold and Kiri Evans, third baseman Izzy Holtrop and first baseman Alyssa James. Pitcher Paige Cates, a second team All-Area pick, will return, as will a strong junior class that includes catcher Aleigha Cory.

kiri hugs
Belleville West pitcher Paige Cates is hugged by Kiri Evans after hitting a game-winning home run against Edwardsville in the regional championship game. It was head coach Casey Garrett’s first regional title and last victory. The nine-year coach will be an assistant principal at Belleville East in the fall. Todd Eschman teschman@bnd.com

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