He’s experienced success on the baseball diamond … first as a player, later as a high school coach.
Now, Jeff Evans is taking his involvement in the sport to a higher level.
Evans confirmed Wednesday he is stepping away from his position as head coach of the Pottstown High School team. He will be moving to Lehigh Carbon Community College in Schnecksville, joining manager Darrin Lenhart’s staff in a Cougar program that plays in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
“They’ll let me pick whatever (area of concentration) I want,” Evans said. “Working with hitters, giving me a bigger role at some point.
“For me, it was a no-brainer.”
The change comes as Evans completed his sixth year leading the Pottstown squad. He’s coached at the high school level locally for a quarter-century, logging 14 seasons at Wilson-West Lawn and another five at Oley Valley before joining Pottstown.
It won’t be a completely new experience for the 1982 Boyertown High graduate, however. He’s already coached college-age players, with Berkshire in the Atlantic Coast Baseball League in 2003 and a Beach League outfit in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in 2013.
“I was sort of looking at it the last 5-6 years, getting to the college level,” he said. “It was the right situation … a full-time teacher at Schuylkill Valley for 26 years … Looking at about a 40-45 minute commute.
“It’s the opportunity to get into college coaching. Who knows where it may lead?”
His tenure at Pottstown was highlighted by the school’s 2013 team, which went 11-7 in the Pioneer Athletic Conference (13-9 overall) and reached the District 1-AAA playoffs’ semifinal round.
“I would say so,” Evans said of that squad’s campaign being the best of his time there. “Obviously, before the PAC went to two divisions, it was a struggle for the small schools to compete against the bigger ones.”
At his two previous coaching stops, Evans amassed a 255-156 career record. His Wilson teams won five Berks Conference championships during his time there, and he directed Oley Valley to a District 3 Class AA title in 1992.
Evans leaves Pottstown after going 32-74 in the PAC, 37-83 overall. This past season, the Trojans were 3-13 in league play and 3-15 for the spring season.
That run notwithstanding, Evans feels the program made strides during his time.
“When I came in, the program was in disarray,” he said. “We’ve done some good things there — we’ve made Southern trips every two years.
“The cupboard won’t be empty. I started four freshman this year, and we have some sophomores and seniors. It’s a decent situation … that’s all I wanted as a coach.”
Still, Evans noted the move to LCCC wasn’t an overwhelmingly easy one for him to make.
“For me, it was a tough decision: To stay and finish what we started, or to start a new chapter,” he said.
“The administration at Pottstown has been great. I couldn’t have been treated any better. From the superintendent through the athletic director, they treated the program well.”
Evans joins an LCCC program that’s coming off a 20-17 season in the NJCAA’s Region 19, which is comprised of junior-college teams from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. The Cougars qualified for regional-tournament play, where their 1-2 record included a win over Bergen Community College followed by a pair of losses to Cumberland Community College.
The 2017 roster included a trio of home-grown talents: Freshmen Aaron Benner (Pennsburg) and Elias Gabel-Tripp (Green Lane) and sophomore Timothy Hughes (Gilbertsville).
“Most of the guys are from the Lehigh Valley,” Evans noted. “One thing that helped me get the job are my connections in Berks County.”
Evans also has success from his youth playing days as part of his resume. He was a member of the Boyertown Legion team that won its first national championship in 1982, qualifying for and hosting the World Series in the newly-constructed Bear Stadium.
“I was part of the project,” he said. “I helped place sod on the field.”
He credits the influence of coaches like Dick Ludy (Boyertown Legion), Harry Hillson (Mansfield University) and Bob Rentschler (Oley Valley) with getting him to the point he’s at today.
“They were good mentors, who molded and shaped me,” he said.
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