Category Archives: high school softball

Columbia Central softball experiences coaching change

By Maurice Patton

‘Philosophical differences’, vague as it sounds, may be the best way to describe the situation that resulted in Shelby Burchell Tietgens’ recent resignation as softball coach at Columbia Central.

“There were some differences in opinions between Shelby and the administration, and it was decided between the two that it was best that they part ways,” said Hannah Thomason Cole, whose installation as interim coach was announced Friday night.

Named to succeed current Central athletics director Kevin Creech following the 2019 season, Tietgens’ tenure ended Thursday – a month before preseason practice officially begins, and after, officially, just three games in a pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.

“It was disappointing to not have a season last year. That was out of everybody’s control,” she said. “It was not ideal for anybody.”

Her impact on the program far exceeded that 0-3 record, though.

Shelby Burchell Tietgens (right) resigned as softball coach at Columbia Central this week. Burchell Tietgens took over the program in June 2019, coaching through a COVID-shortened 2020 season that limited the Lady Lions to just three games. (Courtesy photo by Rob Fleming)

A five-year starter and a four-year all-state selection at Columbia Academy – where she and Thomason Cole were teammates, and where she is an Athletic Hall of Fame honoree – Burchell Tietgens went on to play in two Women’s College World Series over four seasons at the University of Tennessee. After ending her playing career in 2012, she returned to the area and worked as a personal instructor and coached travel ball prior to taking over the Lady Lions’ helm.

“I don’t feel like there’s a lot to comment on because I don’t want there to be anything crazy,” she said. “I just feel like this was the best for everybody, everyone involved. I do know the program is in capable hands with Hannah. I think she’ll do great.

“I just think it would probably be best if I just kept my mouth shut. I don’t have to be involved with it any more. It won’t affect me, the things that I say, but it will affect others. That’s what I’m trying to steer clear of, is not making it any harder on anybody else.”

Central principal Roger White was reluctant to discuss the issue as well.

“I’m disappointed that that’s what Shelby has decided to do,” he said. “We wish her well in whatever she does in the future.”

Despite the change, and its timing, Cole expects the foundation laid by Tietgens over the past 18 months to pay dividends this spring.

“I’m excited to take on the challenge,” she said. “I know that there will probably be some difficulties moving forward. I’ve only been an assistant coach; I’ve never been in the head coaching role, but I have a great support system. I think with the team we have, we will do well this year.

“Since I’ve been with Coach Tietgens, starting in the summer tryouts and the fall, being present with her, we have a lot of the same values and outlook on team sports and softball. We’re going to continue to keep those moving forward. The girls of course are upset about the loss of Coach Tietgens, as we all are. They’re also ready and excited to move forward with us.”

In her absence, Tietgens hopes for the best for her now former players.

“I do want the program to be successful,” she said. “I love those girls. They’re going to do well.”

Maurice Patton is the editor for SM-Tn Sports. He can be reached at or @mopatton_sports on Twitter.

Zion announces Adcox as new softball coach

SM-TN Sports

Zion Christian announced Monday morning the hiring of Russ Adcox as its new head softball coach. He spent three years as an assistant coach for Zion’s middle school softball team and the last six years as an assistant coach for varsity softball under Tommy Fox.

“I know I’ve got big shoes to fill following Coach Fox, and we’re definitely going to miss (Fox’s daughters) Caroline and Ella on the field, but I think we’ve got the right elements in place to have a really good team,” Adcox said in a release from the school.

Russ Adcox / Courtesy Photo

Adcox takes over a program that was 5-1 before the 2020 season was ended due to COVID-19. They replace three seniors — Lauryn Kinser, Sarah Joiner and Sewanee signee Kathryn Kennedy — from that team, but Adcox is confident the program will continue to thrive under his leadership, along with assistant coaches Jeff Hazard and Eric Coble.

“(Hazard) and I have coached together for the last six years. We understand the system (Fox) implemented and plan to keep as much of it as possible,” Adcox said. 

Coble was an assistant coach with Zion’s middle school team that went undefeated last season, and has previously coached at Mt. Pleasant. Adcox is excited to add both coaches to the staff, and believes the 2021 team will be competitive.

“We’ve got a great group of girls, including four returning seniors and a really good freshman class coming off an undefeated middle school (season),” he said. “The girls have been playing together a while, half of them are playing with travel organizations, and Coach Hazard and Coach Coble are going to be a big asset to the program.

“I can’t wait for the season to get started. The girls love the game and each other. It’s going to be fun year with this group.”

Adcox has been a member of the Zion coaching community for nine years. He is also the President of the ZCA Booster Club, and has been an active volunteer in Zion athletics since in 2004. He also serves as the Lead Pastor of Maury Hills Church in Columbia and on numerous non-profit boards in the community.

Fox trot leaves openings at Zion

By Maurice Patton

One departure leaves Zion Christian Academy with three athletic staff vacancies.

Tommy Fox, who has served as boys basketball coach, softball coach and athletics director at the school, has accepted similar roles at Wayne Christian School in Goldsboro, N.C. Fox will rejoin former Zion football coach, AD and interim head of school Paul Brenner at the K-12 institution.

“Obviously we’re close from when we were back at Zion. I had the opportunity to hire him there and work with him there,” said Brenner, school head at Wayne Christian. “I just think the world of him. He’s great with kids, he’s a super head coach, I love his family – his wife (Tara) is a great teacher as well. We’ve just stayed in contact with each other. Not only did we work together, but we’re good friends. We went to church together.”

Fox, hired as boys basketball and softball coach prior to the 2013-14 school year, took on AD duties in 2017 — succeeding Brenner in that role – along with the girls basketball coaching position. He relinquished the latter this past season with the hiring of Emory Ujano, who was recently dismissed as well.

“I really wasn’t looking at all,” said Fox, 44. “We got presented with a really good opportunity. Any time you’re presented with an opportunity, you’ve got to take a look at it and do what’s best for your family. I didn’t know it was the best thing for my family when I got the call, but after a tremendous amount of prayer and some wise counsel, it sounded like a great opportunity.”

Adam Thomas, upper school principal, said the plan for filling four staff positions is taking shape.

“We’re discussing how all that plays out right now,” he said. “Finding a person that can do as many different things as Tommy is not an easy find. He did a lot of things and he was good at a lot of things. As much as I’m happy for him, I’m sad for myself and all the folks that are going to miss him. He’s a tremendous person to have at Zion and a tremendous loss.

“We’d obviously love to have an AD that could coach; that’s something we’ll look at. But a lot will be determined by who are our opportunities, and then who best fits the mission of Zion.”

Fox said he will remain at Zion through the end of his contract, which expires July 31, before he, Tara and their seven children head east.

“Zion’s a very dear place to my heart,” he said. “My kids love Zion, I love Zion. I’ve dedicated a lot of time and a lot of hard work, and I’ve coached some great kids. I’ve definitely been blessed by being here.”