By Fran Hunt
Special to Greene Publishing, Inc.
Longtime Aucilla Christian Academy (ACA) Head Baseball Coach Ray Hughes has decided to step down from his position following 34 years as the program’s head coach and one year with its junior varsity.
Hughes will reverse roles with first-year Assistant Coach Drew Sherrod, who played for Hughes from 2001-2005 and will take over as head coach, effective immediately.
While playing for Aucilla under Hughes’ leadership, Sherrod and the Warriors were District Champions in 2003, 2004 and 2005. They were also Regional Finalists in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
In the ACA record books, the second highest most runs scored during one game was in 2005 against John Paul II, when the Warriors scored 28 runs.
In 2004, Sherrod scored the second highest most home runs in one season with eight.
In 2005, Sherrod also tied for the most RBIs in a season with 46, a record set by Leonard Thigpen in 1984.
Hughes, who recently retired as ACA’s athletic director after 25 years of service, felt it was in his best interest, as well as that of the program’s, to hand over the reins to Sherrod and serve as his assistant.
“I have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach a game I love for the past 35 years,” Hughes said. “Drew Sherrod was one of the most dedicated players I ever coached. I think he will do an excellent job.”
“After having led our program for over 30 years, we can’t thank Ray Hughes enough for all of his dedication and efforts in serving our school, our students and our Savior,” said ACA Principal Richard Finlayson. “He has positively impacted so many people in so many ways. We are excited about his commitment to continue to be a vital part of our coaching staff and about his enthusiasm in regard to the future of our baseball program.”
“We are also excited about turning the reins over to Drew Sherrod,” Finlayson added. “He is extremely knowledgeable about baseball and is a very positive coach that approaches coaching with a great deal of enthusiasm. Most importantly, he is looking forward to the opportunity to serve God through this new role. We have great confidence that our baseball program will continue to grow and thrive under Coach Sherrod’s leadership.”
Sherrod recently joined the ACA staff as a physical-education instructor, assistant varsity football coach and middle-school boy’s basketball coach.
“I am so excited and thankful to have this opportunity,” Sherrod said. “Coach Hughes is a legend at this school as well as in the sport of baseball. It means the world to me that I get to coach at my alma mater but it is extra special that I get to coach alongside Coach Hughes.
“It is going to be a great challenge, but one I am very much looking forward to,” Sherrod added.
Sherrod, a standout pitcher and infielder for Hughes, went on to play one year with North Florida Community College before transferring to Florida State University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation Management. Sherrod is also an instructor with the Southern Ball Academy of Tallahassee.
“Coach Sherrod has proven extremely beneficial to all of our sports programs since joining our staff in August,” said ACA Athletic Director Mary Beth Bishop. “He brings substantial knowledge of fundamentals and technique and his enthusiasm for our baseball program has our players more than ready for the upcoming season.”
The Warriors begin regular season play around the diamond, against Hamilton County at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 15, away.