Helena promotes Mark Sanders to varsity softball coach

Published 12:18 pm Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

HELENA – The Helena Huskies announced Mark Sanders as their new varsity softball head coach on Wednesday, May 24.

The move came less than a week after Helena played in their third straight Class 6A state tournament in Oxford. They lost both of their games to Hazel Green and Oxford after an unbeaten run through the area and regional tournaments.

Sanders comes from Helena Middle School after leading the softball program since their inaugural season in 2009. In the last seven years, Helena Middle went 205-12 under Sanders.

That 205-12 record included a stretch from 2017-2018 where the Huskies only lost one game, going 34-1 in 2017 and undefeated in 2018. The Huskies were also unbeaten in 2022.

He began coaching at Riverchase Middle School in 2001, and between his stints at Riverchase and Helena Middle, he has 22 years of coaching and teaching experience in the Helena area.

He taught seventh grade civics and geography at Helena Middle and also served as a bus driver on top of coaching softball.

Overall, Sanders’ teams have recorded 21 straight winning seasons. Sanders has over 450 career wins, and over 300 came at Helena Middle School.

Historically, Sanders has been an expert at taking softball programs with little or no history of success and building a dynasty. Riverchase Middle hadn’t won a game in two years before Sanders started, and they won 11 games in his first year and built from there. Helena Middle School had just started when Sanders arrived in 2008 and only had half of the players from Riverchase because of the school split.

He will walk into a much better situation at Helena High when he takes the field in 2024, as the Huskies have been in strong hands under Scott Lowery. Lowery took the Huskies to each of the last three state tournaments, including a runner-up finish in 2022.

The Huskies recorded 33 wins on their way to the 2023 state tournament. They dominated on both offense and defense this year, outscoring their Area 7 tournament opponents 34-6 and their Central Regional Tournament opponents 28-14.

Lowery posted a statement on Twitter after Sanders was promoted, and he was grateful for his time as Helena’s softball head coach and football assistant coach.

“God has lead [sic] me and my family down a different path and my time at Helena has come to the end,” Lowery said. “I am very thankful for the last 5 years. I was fortunate to work with a lot of wonderful people, families, students, and athletes that blessed me every day.”