Former Callaway coach wins state title

Published 1:40 am Wednesday, May 30, 2018


Daily News

As he gathered his team together for the first preseason practice in February, Ashley Summerlin was still trying to learn everyone’s name.

“Usually when coaches come in, they have a summer, they have a fall, and then they have the spring,” said Summerlin, the long-time coach at Callaway who took over the baseball program at Port St. Joe (Fla.) earlier this year. “Well, we’re at the first week of practice, and I didn’t even know my kids’ names yet.”

Perhaps predictably, there were some bumps in the road as the players got to know their new coach, and vice versa.

“We had a situation where we had a learning curve,” Summerlin said. “The kids were trying to figure me out, and figure us out.”

Considering the team was the toast of the town during a state-championship parade on Tuesday, the relationship between the players and their new coach obviously came together nicely.

Beginning with a win over Liberty County in the first game of the district tournament, Port St. Joe went on a run that ended with a 4-0 victory over Madison County in Monday’s Class A state-championship game in Fort Myers.

After the game, Summerlin received well-wishes from a bunch of people, including some he worked with for a decade at Callaway. Summerlin was an assistant coach in baseball and football at Callaway, and he was also the head softball coach.

Late in 2017 Summerlin got the opportunity to take over the program at Port St. Joe, and he jumped at the chance, even if it meant leaving a lot of close friends behind.

On the bus ride back from Fort Myers on Monday, Summerlin expressed his appreciation for the folks at Callaway, including head football coach Pete Wiggins and head baseball coach Dusty Hubbard.

“You kind of feel like all of those people played a part,” Summerlin said. “I’ve learned so much from obviously coach Wiggins and coach Hubbard, coaching with them for so long. A lot of the things we do, and a lot of the beliefs that I’m building this program on, come straight from there. A lot of thanks goes out to those two guys to those two guys, and everybody who’s been a part of helping me along the way.”

Summerlin added that “it’s nice to be able to talk to those guys, and I know they’re proud. We’re just good friends. We were together for a long time.”

In Monday’s championship game, Chris Stockton threw a four-hitter in the 4-0 victory over Madison.

Port St. Joe went unbeaten in the district and state tournaments combined.

“He pitched a really good game,” Summerlin said. “He didn’t walk anybody. He only struck out one, but we played defense. It’s that same blue print that we had at Callaway. We’re going to pitch, and we’re going to play defense, and we have some kids that can hit on this team. We’re pretty athletic. So it’s nice to know you’ve got that in your arsenal.”

Summerlin added that “it just started clicking at the right time. You need to get hot, and we did. I remember when we did it. There were about three games left in the season, and we figured out how to compete, and we carried it through.”