Jeff Norris

SAND ROCK - Over the past few years, the Sand Rock baseball program has lacked stability at the top. Veteran Wildcat coach Jeff Norris is looking to change that.

Norris, who begins his 28th year at the school this fall, was recently tabbed the Wildcats' head baseball coach. He becomes the program's eighth since 2005. It's Norris's second tenure as head baseball coach at Sand Rock. He spent 11 years building the program back in the 1990s.

Norris spent the past few seasons as an assistant to former head coach Tyler Driskell, who resigned back in April.

"It's been a long time since I've stood at third base," Norris joked. "There have been six or seven guys since I've been here. We need a little bit of stability. You can't build something if you're replacing the foundation every couple of years. I've been here forever, and I don't plan on going anywhere until I retire. "

Sand Rock principal Ben East said Norris is "a good fit" for the job.

"I was looking for some stability, somebody I know who would come in here and do a good job," East said. "That's one thing the baseball program has been lacking, somebody to come in, run with it and be consistent with it. That's the things Jeff brings to the table.

"He's good with the kids. He's very thorough. He pushes them far. I think he'll do a great job. He's already met and talked with them to set up workouts and calendars. He's been helping a lot throughout the transition anyway, getting things together for our spring sports banquet, tying up end-of-the-year stuff. The kids are real excited."

The Wildcats finished 9-14 last season under Driskell. They were runner-up to Westbrook Christian in Class 2A, Area 12 and were swept at Section in the first round of the state playoffs. They lose just three seniors from that squad.

But being young isn't going to be an excuse for the way the Wildcats play on the field next season, Norris said.

"I kind of gave them that out the other night at the athletic dinner. I'm not going to give them that out this year," Norris said. "Some of them have one year under their belt, and now they're a veteran. If you're going to start, you've got to play like an older guy. I'm going to try and make that clear to them."

The Wildcats' first workouts for the 2018 season begin next week.