Leslie Efferson-Yellott named Denham Springs softball coach; St. Amant interviewing finalists for its softball coach opening _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Zachary softball coach Leslie Efferson-Yellott meets with her players after Zachary's 5-0 win over Natchitoches Central in a Class 5A playoff game.

One softball power hired its new coach and another is entering the final stages of its coaching search.

Denham Springs High announced the hiring of Zachary’s Leslie Efferson-Yellott on Tuesday. Meanwhile, St. Amant Athletic Director David Oliver said his school plans to interview “five or six” finalists for its head softball job by the end of the week. Oliver a said a decision could be made by Friday or perhaps early next week.

Efferson-Yellott’s move from one District 4-5A school to another comes a month after she led Zachary to a runner-up finish in Class 5A.

“First of all, I want to thank Zachary for the support I received during my years there from the administration and the families,” Efferson-Yellott said. “I love those kids with all my heart and am so proud of everything we accomplished. The last thing I want to do is disappoint them.

“This is as much a family decision as it is a softball decision. I look forward to the new challenge and to get the chance to build on the tradition Denham Springs has. My daughter has decided she wants to attend Central, which is where we live. This move puts me 10 minutes from where she’ll be in school.”

A former Baker and Nicholls State standout, Efferson-Yellott spent 10 seasons as head coach at Zachary. The second-seeded Broncos finished 26-6 and lost to Alexandria Senior High in the 5A title game in late April. It was Zachary’s first appearance in a softball title game since 1994. ZHS and Live Oak tied for the District 4-5A title.

The move is a package deal. Efferson-Yellott’s husband, Robbie Yellott, also is moving from Zachary to Denham Springs to teach and will be an assistant softball coach.

“I feel like we’ve got one of the best coaches in the state,” DSHS Principal Kelly Jones said. “I can’t wait to get her here on campus. I won’t say that we have the best program in the state, but we feel like we have one of the best.

“That’s why we wanted to bring somebody in who had already not only coached, but had been a head coach at a high level. Leslie has done that. Adding Robbie to our staff made a hire we thought was a home run a grand slam.”

News of Efferson-Yellott’s job change circulated rapidly after she told her Zachary team she was leaving Monday. She was one of about 12 applicants for the job, Jones said.

Efferson-Yellott succeeds David Bourque, who resigned after Denham Springs finished its season. Bourque is concentrating on other duties at the school, including his role as head athletic trainer. He coached DSHS to 5A runner-up finishes in 2011 and 2014.

In addition to leading Zachary to the title game last month and the quarterfinals in 2015, Efferson-Yellott coached the Broncos to the Class 4A semifinals in 2010. She also coached her alma mater, Baker, to a Class 4A runner-up finish in 1999 and pitched the Buffaloes to a 4A runner-up finish in 1991.

Oliver said St. Amant’s pursuit of a softball coach attracted about 20 applicants by the May 27 deadline. Scott Nielson resigned after 14 seasons, compiling a 415-60-13 overall record that included a 140-11 record in a district play and four state titles. The Gators lost to Zachary in the quarterfinals last month.

Nielson was a nonfaculty coach and his successor will be a faculty member, something that changes the parameters for the search, Oliver said.

“This is the first time since I’ve been at the school we’ve hired a faculty person to coach softball,” Oliver said. “So you have to match teaching schedules and open teaching spots. And our situation is much like what (Denham Springs) had. Oliver declined to list the finalists.

“When you have a program that has the expectation of playing on the last day of the year every spring, you need someone with experience. That took some younger coaches who applied out of consideration. We feel like we have some impressive applicants.”