HERMISTON — Hermiston High didn’t have to look far for its next varsity baseball coach. He was already in the dugout at Weber Field this summer.

The Hermiston School District and Athletic Director Mike Kay recommended Doug Taylor, coach of the Hermiston Spuds American Legion baseball team this summer, for its high school coaching vacancy. The 26-year-old is just a vote from the school board away from officially taking on the head coaching title.

Taylor’s experience with the program was a major chip in his favor, Kay said. Not only did Taylor lead the Spuds, a team featuring many of the high school’s returning upperclass baseball players, to a winning record this summer, Taylor also served as an assistant with the junior varsity club for the last two seasons.

“It’s great to have somebody that’s already connected with the kids to make the transition a bit easier,” Kay said. “We saw great things from him this summer with the kids.”

Taylor has taken the same steps up the ladder with his players in the last two years after arriving in Hermiston following graduation from Oregon State with a Master’s Degree in education.

“I know the kids, especially from working with them this summer,” Taylor said. “I found ways to help drive some of the kids. Some kids work differently in different situations so how you approach those situations (as coach) is going to be different. Knowing that will be helpful because baseball’s a big mental game.”

Taylor will take over the Hermiston program from Brent Mattson who resigned from the position this summer after four years at the helm. Mattson posted a 47-58 overall record with Hermiston, including 29-37 in conference play. Hermiston was 9-17 this spring and 5-7 in the Columbia River Conference, finishing second.

Becoming a head coach at the high school level had been a goal of Taylor’s in the future but he buried the idea of taking charge of the Bulldogs until the end of the Legion season this summer to focus on his team’s immediate games.

The move to head man comes a little sooner than Taylor had anticipated, he said, but it was impossible to turn down a shot at this type of opportunity.

Likewise, Kay and the administration saw their chance for a fluid transition for the future of the program right in their backyard.

“Any time you have a person with the teaching qualities that (Taylor) has and they’re already in your community, it’s a big plus,” Kay said.

Taylor said he’ll focus on teaching the game from the ground up, starting with Hermiston’s Little League baseball. From Little Leaguers, to Legion summer players to varsity letterman, the whole bundle is the continuation of one Hermiston goal.

“We’ve got to be on the same page in how we play,” said Taylor, a sixth grade teacher at Armand Larive Middle School. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel … When they’re in American Legion ball, we want them to have the same offensive style, same signs and everything. I’d like to work with the Little League coaches even and get them running Hermiston style baseball.”

The final step in the hiring process will come in September when the school board will decide whether or not to move forward with Taylor, but according to Kay, the district has found their man.

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Contact AJ Mazzolini at ajmazzolini@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0839.

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