Brett Hotchkiss talks to prospective baseball players after being named new head coach of the Coosa baseball program at Coosa High, May 15, 2013. (Brittany Hannah/RN-T)

Brittany Hannah

Brett Hotchkiss was named the new head coach of the Coosa baseball team on Wednesday — and the man he’s replacing couldn’t have been more pleased with the choice.

Gus Bell, who resigned as Coosa’s head coach earlier this month when the Eagles’ season ended, said Hotchkiss is a great fit for the program.

“He is deserving to be the head coach,” said Bell.

Hotchkiss was an assistant coach on Bell’s staff for the past three seasons, and the Eagles made the playoffs each year.

“Hotch is the reason for the success our program has had the last three years,” Bell said.

Under the direction of Bell and Hotchkiss, the Eagles made the Class AA state playoffs this past season and advanced to Sweet 16 the previous year.

Now, Hotchkiss will look to continue that success.

“I’m real excited,” Hotchkiss said on Wednesday.

“I think it’s been a great opportunity for me to have a few years to work under Coach Bell who is a very veteran and respected coach in the area.

“I’ve taken a lot of the learning opportunities that he’s provided for me and I’ve taken a lot away from that.”

Bell stepped down from his baseball duties in order to focus exclusively on his softball duties after being named to that position last fall.

The Eagles made the playoffs the last four years under Bell, making it to the Sweet Sixteen two of those years.

This year, Coosa was the region runner-up, going 10-3 in 7-AA.

The Eagles stepped up to the challenge of continuing their program’s success after a slew of seniors graduated from last year’s roster, and it’s that tradition that Hotchkiss hopes to build on.

“Overall, I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “We’re kind of in a transition period in our program right now.

“We’ve had some excellent classes go through in recent years and right now we’re really looking forward to having the opportunity to try to go ahead and continue the level of success and the level of play that we’ve been at and maintaining the type of program that Coach Bell has really started out here,” added Hotchkiss.

In other baseball action news:

PEPPERELL PREPARING FOR WESTMINSTER: Having won six consecutive playoff games, the Pepperell Dragons are now preparing for their next challenge: Facing Westminster in the Class AA semifinals.

The best-of-three series — which will be a match-up of No. 1 seeds — starts Monday at Pepperell with a doubleheader that begins at 1 p.m.

If a third game is necessary, it will be Tuesday at Pepperell.

The Dragons advanced to the semifinals by sweeping Jeff Davis, 9-1 and 6-5, on Tuesday in the third round of the playoffs.

Pepperell opened the postseason with a Game 1 loss to Greater Atlanta Christian, but bounced back to win the final two games of that series.

The Dragons then swept Union in the second round before downing Jeff Davis to clinch their spot in the semis.