South Medford High lost a pair of veteran coaches recently with the resignations of long-time boys tennis coach Jackie Barker and softball coach Dan Marshall.

South Medford High lost a pair of veteran coaches recently with the resignations of long-time boys tennis coach Jackie Barker and softball coach Dan Marshall.

Barker had served as the Panther boys' coach for 11 years, while Marshall guided the Panther girls for eight seasons.

"They've done a great job for us and just decided it's been long enough and time for somebody else to take over," said South Medford Athletics Director Dennis Murphy. "We hate to see them both go, but I understand."

In Barker's final season, he helped guide sophomore Matt Pronesti to the Class 6A state quarterfinals.

"He gets kids out and they all get better and have fun and he teaches them how to play tennis," said Murphy.

Despite never coaching fastpitch softball prior to taking over the Panther program days before the team's first practice in 2003, Marshall had an immediate and lasting affect. South Medford shared the Southern Oregon Conference championship in that first year with North Medford, going from 1-13 in league play to 12-2 in only two seasons.

The 2003 title was the Panthers' first since 1992 and only the second in school history, and it allowed South to advance to the state playoffs for the first time since the 1994 season. Marshall was quick to praise his players for the turnaround — Jen Mendenhall's perfect game that year snapped North's 28-game winning streak — but his leadership and motivation have been just as vital through eight seasons.

"He does a great job with kids and connecting with kids and teaches them how to compete and gets the most out of his kids," said Murphy. "It's been a great experience."

The Panthers advanced to the state playoffs in five of Marshall's eight seasons, including this past spring when South Medford's young squad placed fourth in the Southwest Conference with a 7-8 mark to go with a 15-12 record overall.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com