GRANGER TWP. — The reigning Suburban League champion didn’t have to leave the dugout.
One month after Highland baseball coach Jeff Rollyson resigned, his assistant, Jay Grissom, was selected as the replacement.
The 30-year-old Norton native inherits a program that won 130 games, two Division II district championships and one Suburban League title in nine years under Rollyson.
“I think it’s a good fit because I know the program,” Grissom said Thursday. “I know where they’re at. The comfort level on both ends is very good. I have big shoes to fill, but certainly a really great situation to me.”
Grissom spent his first two years as Rollyson’s freshman coach and the last three as a varsity assistant.
The property manager for the Park Corporation doesn’t have a staff in place, but insisted the Hornets will still feature an aggressive style of small ball and fundamentally sound defense.
“I learned a lot from Jeff about everything baseball-wise,” Grissom said. “I think I communicate differently, but as far as learning the fundamentals from him and a style of baseball that we play there, that worked so well for so long. I can build on it and put my own twist on things.
“Hopefully, we can continue on a similar amount of success he had.”
Highland returns a vast amount of talent from last year’s team that went 22-6 and lost a nail-biter to Brunswick in the Hudson Division I District semifinals.
All-Gazette first baseman Luke Raley (.474, 37 RBIs) and All-Gazette pitcher Jacob Pries (8-2, 2.62 ERA) highlight the returning starters, who also include shortstop Ricky Esker, designated hitter Anthony Ondrejcak, catcher Grant Loeding, pitcher Kenny Sanford and third baseman Ryan Hepner.
While the losses of four-year starters Chad Sedio and Jeff Scholle will be hard to fully replace, Grissom is confident the Hornets won’t have much of a drop-off.
“Everybody is excited, as am I,” he said. “I’m just looking forward getting to work as soon as we can.
“I expect to continue winning games, for sure. I do understand there is going to be a transition period here. My goal is no fall-off when it comes to things like that.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.