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One more season for Binney

Months after coaching what was supposed to be his final softball game, coach Larry Binney is back at Southern Oregon.

Binney announced in December of 2004 that he would step down following the 2005 season and two months later former Oregon State shortstop Shawna Feldt was named his successor. But in August, Feldt was offered a job too good to pass up as an assistant coach at her alma matter. She took it, leaving the SOU softball program in a bit of a pickle.

Southern Oregon athletic director Dennis Francois, already heading up a search for a new head football coach, asked Binney to come back for one more season and Binney, who was retiring to spend more time with his family, said &



He asked and it&

s just that I have a lot of loyalty at (SOU),&

Binney said. &

I played here and I was a (North Medford High) Tornado for a long time, but I&

m also a Raider and we have some great kids coming back, really, really good kids, so it was the right thing to do and we&

re looking forward to the season.&


s decision was a relief for Francois.


With (Binney) already being in the position it made it pretty easy for us to find somebody in the interim,&

Francois said. &

He was kind enough to accept those duties for another year and I&

m very delighted that he was because he brings some continuity and consistency to the program.&

When Feldt was hired the move was portrayed by SOU as a sure sign that the program was headed in the right direction. The &

02 Oregon State graduate had an impressive resume and Binney called her &

a rising star&

in the coaching world.

Predictably, Binney wasn&

t thrilled when Feldt called to say that she had taken another job elsewhere.


When (Feldt) first called me and talked to me initially I was disappointed and angry, but the (Oregon State) job paid significantly more than what the pay is here,&

he said. &

Probably flying to Phoenix and Tucson as opposed to taking a bus to La Grande is a decision that a lot of us would make.&

Binney has since been as busy as ever. The team worked out together through the fall, played seven practice games and had its first official team meeting on Monday. Regular spring practices start today and Binney says he&

s now looking forward to one final go round.



m starting to get a little long in the tooth, but I can certainly go out and compete and show that I still have enthusiasm,&

he said. &

I love the game and I love our kids.&

The 2006 season has the potential to be Binney&

s best at SOU, and that&

s saying a lot. Binney led the Raiders to 79 wins and back-to-back Cascade Conference championships in &

04 and &

05. The &

04 Raiders finished with the best record in program history (40-12) and rose to No. 16 in the NAIA national ratings.

Last season was even better. The Raiders beat perennial national powerhouse Simon Fraser at the Region I tournament to force a one-game championship matchup, which Simon Fraser won. SFU went on to win the national championship.

Returning for the Raiders will be senior center fielder Leann Foster, a Region I all-star, senior infielder Megan Rock, a two-time Cascade Conference honorable mention, and Tanisha Burch, SOU&

s single season home run record holder.


I think our team chemistry is really good this year and we&

re hoping to make it four conference championships in a row,&

Binney said.



he added, &


re hoping to knock off Simon Fraser and get to nationals.&

Sports editor can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 3020 or joe.zavala@dailytidings.com.