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St. Mary’s hires Hardaway as coach

St. Mary’s has filled its baseball coach vacancy by hiring Darian Hardaway.

Leading the Crusaders program will be the first varsity job held by Hardaway, who in 2016 was the head junior varsity and assistant varsity coach at Pinecrest Academy in Georgia, where the JV team went 9-4 after finishing the previous year winless and the varsity squad participated in state playoffs for the first time in school history.

Last summer, Hardaway served as head coach for Team Rawlings with the 16U Stars and was mentored by the academy’s manager/owner, Todd Green, who was a catcher in the major leagues for 12 seasons.

Hardaway played college baseball at Division I Alcorn State and Division II St. Augustine University in Raleigh, N.C., where he earned second team all-conference honors in the 2012-13 season and went on to graduate in 2013 with a bachelor’s in criminal justice.

“We have hired the right coach to lead our baseball program,” said Jamie Young, St. Mary’s athletics director. “Darian understands what it takes to prepare kids to play at a high level, and we are thrilled to have him at St. Mary’s.”

Hardaway will have a big pair of cleats to fill: He takes over for departed head coach Sean Gallagher, who after the end of a triumphant last season headed to West Virginia to coach baseball at Davis and Elkins College.

Gallagher took over a struggling program in 2013 and built a consistent winner, culminating with a Class 3A state championship last season with a victory over Glide in the finale to claim the program’s first state title since 1982.

Prior to Gallagher taking over, St. Mary’s was coming off five- and six-win seasons. From 2006-12, the Crusaders were 54-92 and had two winning campaigns.

In the five years under Gallagher, they went 106-37 and never won fewer than 17 games in a season. In the last two years, St. Mary’s finished 52-6.