HERMISTON — After a fifteen day search, Hermiston baseball has a new leader.
The school announced on Friday afternoon that Kevin Moore has been hired as the program’s newest head coach, pending approval by the Board of Education at its meeting on July 10. Moore replaces Lance Hawkins who stepped down from the position on June 1 after three seasons at the helm.
Moore, 40, comes to Hermiston from Idaho, where he has spent the past 12 years as an assistant baseball coach for Parma High School, Caldwell, Vallivue and Fruitland. He has strong ties to Eastern Oregon, though, as Moore grew up in Pendleton and graduated from Pendleton High School in 1995.
And even though the former Buckaroo is now going to be coaching for his high school rival, he is more than excited to finally get a chance as a head coach and get started with the Bulldogs.
“This was an opportunity for both my wife and I that we couldn’t pass up,” Moore told the East Oregonian on Friday. “I’ve heard nothing but good things about Hermiston baseball and the opportunity to come in and enjoy the success that they’ve built and expand on that is exciting.”
Moore’s baseball background is pretty extensive, starting with a successful high school career with the Buckaroos that landed him a chance to play college baseball and eventually two seasons playing professional baseball in the Independent Frontier League before coming back to Pendleton.
From there, Moore spent two summers coaching Pendleton Legion baseball from 2000-2001 for the then-Dave’s Chevron team with current Pendleton assistant Travis Zander before landing a teaching job in the Parma School District. His last two seasons in Idaho he spent assisting the Fruitland High team that won back-to-back state championships.
Hermiston athletic director Larry Usher said on Friday that Moore’s baseball coaching background, along with experience in coaching football and golf. was a perfect fit for what the school was looking for.
“He comes from a great baseball pedigree and has had success everywhere he’s been,” said Usher. “One thing good coaches should do is learn the most they can from competitive programs and I’m humble enough to admit that Pendleton baseball has been fantastic and that’s where he started, and then what he did in Parma spoke volumes to us.”
Moore inherits a Bulldog program that finished 10-15 overall this past season and 4-8 in the Columbia River Conference, just missing out on a postseason spot. The Bulldogs do return some experienced pieces, though, as five positional starters and all three starting pitchers will return to the field.
But Hermiston has just one more season to leave a lasting mark on the OSAA and the four-team CRC before it moves to the tougher Mid-Columbia Conference and the WIAA starting in 2018-19. Usher admitted that the move to the WIAA was a reason for the district going in a different direction and outside of the program to try and jump-start the stagnant program.
“We don’t want to go up there and not have a good showing,” Usher said. “We think Kevin brings a bit of fire and will bring some charisma to the high school program.”
Along with revamping the high school program, Moore will be tasked with helping the development of Hermiston’s Little League and middle school programs to help funnel more kids into the high school level and make things more competitive amongst the kids. Moore believes that he way to start is perhaps easier said than done.
“My opinion is winning brings along a lot of interest from kids,” he said. “If you’re winning, kids want to be a part of the program and will come out. I’m a firm believer of teaching kids how to play hard and how to play right and get kids to believe in themselves.
“If you treat kids with respect and get them in the right direction and get them believing that they’re going to be better then their opponent, then we can start to build a highly competitive program.”
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