MORRISON – When the Morrison baseball head coaching position was collecting dust on his desk, superintendent and former skipper Scott Vance stepped up to the plate.
He won’t be alone.
Vance and school board vice president Jim Ridley were approved Monday by the board to serve as co-head coaches of the Mustangs.
They replace Michael Budka, who resigned in July to take a physical education teaching position at Davenport (Iowa) North; he was 14-39 in three seasons.
Vance coached the Mustangs from 2003-10, and, with Ridley as an assistant, led Morrison to a Class 2A third-place trophy in 2009. The Rock Falls native had a record of 144-62-1 before his promotion to high school principal in 2010. He became superintendent in 2014.
“[Jim] has got some free time, but he’s also got some commitments that he would like to be able to do,” Vance said. “With my position, my time is limited, but I also have some freedom. Neither one of us could do it on our own, but together I think we can get it taken care of.”
Ridley also was an assistant coach at Amboy under current Morrison Junior High Principal Joe Robbins. He ran the White Rock Dragons summer team, which included members of Erie-Prophetstown’s 2011 2A third-place team.
“Nobody applied, and I wasn’t going to let a program that I’ve spent so much time with go to nothing,” Ridley said. “I told Scott, ‘If you guys don’t get anyone to apply, and nobody steps forward, then I’ll do it.’”
Budka came to Morrison after serving as an assistant freshman coach at Rock Island. His teaching position was filled before the start of the school year.
Morrison hasn’t had a winning season since 2015, when they went 22-5 with a regional championship under then-coach Ben Sondgeroth. The Mustangs had only one losing season, in 2003, since the program was resurrected in 1986 after a 53-year absence.
The swing of things picks back up today with a team meeting.
“We’ve got some nice returning players,” Vance said. “A lot of it depends on the number of arms you’ve got, so if we get some pitching, we’ve got a chance to be pretty competitive.”
“We’ve coached together and were pretty successful, so we’ll give it another go,” Ridley said.