Montevallo High School names new baseball coach

By TURNER GRIFFIN | Staff Intern

MONTEVALLO – A new era in Montevallo baseball has begun with the hire of former Huntingdon player and coach Joshua Bennefield taking over as the team’s next head coach.

“When I heard about the job, I asked myself, ‘Why not me?’” Bennefield said. “I go about life trying to do things that get me out of my comfort zone, because that is how you truly experience great things in life. This job felt like it was out of my comfort zone, and that made me want to pursue it. I like to talk about being comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

The 34-year-old is back in the high school baseball scene for the first time since being an assistant coach at Pinson Valley High School in 2012, where he helped lead the Indians to a Class 5A quarterfinal run.

“The game at the high school level is completely different in its own unique way. When you’re coaching or playing at the collegiate level, you almost take the little things in the game of baseball for granted. You don’t really have to go over small stuff frequently,” Bennefield said. “With these high school players, you have to spend more time with them one on one and focusing on doing the little things over and over to help them advance in baseball and to the next chapter of their lives.”

Bennefield also coached at his alma mater of Huntingdon beginning in the summer of 2012. After graduating from the school in 2011 with a B.A. in Elementary Education, he became an assistant with the Hawks, where he was a part of 104 wins, one USA South Athletic Conference Title and Huntingdon’s first two births ever in the Division III South Regional in 2013 and 2016.

Before his coaching career ever started, the Pleasant Grove native was a player at the collegiate level, first starting out at Bevill State Community College for his first two seasons, and then transferring to play for the Hawks at Huntingdon.

Putting up great numbers while with Huntingdon helped lead the Hawks to the Great South Athletic Conference finals twice during his only two years there.

He also performed his way into two All-Conference selections. Bennefield posted a career average of .340 in 81 games with Huntingdon, along with 93 hits, 97 runs, 16 doubles and 39 RBIs.

Now taking over the job at Montevallo, Bennefield is handed a team that is returning a lot of players from its 2020-2021 season roster after losing 6 seniors, including Huntingdon signee Robbie Gallagher.

The new head coach said he is optimistic and excited to take the reins of this program and has much enthusiasm for what he believes this team can do.

“I’m not going to put a number of wins or a certain round of the playoffs out there as a season goal, because I don’t want my players to get satisfied,” Bennefield said. “I want these kids to have day-by-day goals, and that will lead to the goals they want to accomplish overall. I’ve been talking to these kids already about how each season is going to be similar to a dog sled race—they’re all pulling the sled and my job is just to keep them on course. They determine how fast we go and if we win the race based on the work they’re willing to put in.”

He is taking over for former Montevallo head coach Chris Shelton, who went 41-32 in three seasons as the Montevallo head coach, including a 10-1 start to the COVID-shortened 2019-2020 season.

The Bulldogs are coming off a 13-18 season, finishing with the second-best record in Class 4A Area 5 at 4-2 behind Bibb County. Montevallo is also coming off a playoff appearance, losing to the Handley Tigers out of Roanoke in the first round.

The new Montevallo coach is hoping to build off of what was done last season and is thrilled to start his first season as a head coach.

“The things that have made me prepared for this moment in my career are not necessarily baseball moments, but things that have happened throughout my life that molded me,” Bennefield said. “There’s also been several coaches throughout my career that have played a huge part in the coach I have become. Coach Conville from Huntingdon, Coach Johnson from Pinson Valley, and especially my high school coach, Coach Lloyd. All of those guys are a direct reflection of the man I am today.”

Glad to be back on the diamond, Bennefield had been taking a short break from coaching since 2018.

A teacher at Montevallo Elementary School before becoming the school’s high school baseball coach, he was named the Shelby County First Year Teacher of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year.

“Going into teaching at Montevallo Elementary School was such an easy transition because it allowed me to do something that I loved with an administration that made me love my job even more.”

Bennefield also described how he had always had a calling for teaching kids, and that being able to remember all of his old teachers after so many years made him realize that he wanted to have that same impact.

Bennefield now hopes to have great success on and off the field in his time with the Bulldogs.

“I want to teach these players that if you work every day to be the best young man you can be and work hard, the game will come easy,” he said.