By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer
Baylor softball is in the midst of change.
Longtime softball assistant and Baylor legend Mark Lumley will retire after 20 years with the program. Lumley, who has had cancer four separate times, found that the cancer had spread to his vertebrae in March, and understandably decided he was no longer fit to coach.
Baylor softball head coach Glenn Moore was left with the nearly impossible task of replacing Lumley, one of the best assistants in the game.
“It’s not easy,” Moore said. “We keep our focus on Coach Lumley. He’s a fighter and has certainly written the Baylor softball story with us. He’s had an effect on us that will last for many years.”
Replacing Lumley was not easy, but Baylor announced on Monday that it would be making two staff moves, a promotion and a hire, to help fill the hole that Lumley left.
The first was hiring Steve “Hoot” Johnigan, who served as an assistant coach for Baylor baseball for 20 years and was most recently the associate director of athletic facilities and operations for Baylor. Moore felt like the move was a no-brainer, as Johnigan has already been around the Baylor softball program, filling in as the hitting coach in 2019 for Lumley after he suffered a hip injury.
“Just look at his resume and you can tell we are very blessed to have him,” Moore said. “At the end of the day, when everything was said and done, we all agreed that the credentials, the experience and the wisdom, the definition of what a Baylor coach should be about was Hoot Johnigan.”
Johnigan said he was incredibly excited to return to coaching, saying the itch had always to be in that position had remained.
“Words can’t describe how excited I am to be back,” Johnigan said. “Two years ago, I got a chance to fill in and my adrenaline got going. I didn’t realize how much I missed it.”
Johnigan said his experience filling in will be “invaluable” as he takes on the new coaching position.
“It got me acquainted with a lot of the girls and to the game,” Johnigan said. “I love the strategy of it. There’s a lot of things to think about and I love that challenge.”
The second move Baylor made on Monday was to promote longtime Baylor assistant coach Britni Newman to the position of associate head coach. Newman, who serves as the Lady Bear’s pitching coach, has fostered a reputation as one of the best coaches at developing talent in the nation.
“Pitching is the name of the game,” Moore said. “Her role is vital, and we have one of the best in the country, if not the best.”
“I’m humbled and honored for this promotion,” Newman said. “Thanks to Coach Moore for the daily opportunities to teach the game I love and share my faith with the team.”
Softball will start their fall season on Saturday, provided that they have enough players available, and Moore believes that despite the changes to the coaching staff, the team can still continue to improve.
“It’s going to be a tremendous fall season with competition for playing time,” Moore said. “The talent that we have is as good as any year that we’ve had. The level of softball is going to be tremendous this year to watch.”