For 27-year-old Cass Hargis, the days playing second base for Holy Cross seem like just yesterday.
“Well, it did until this morning when I found out I was going to be the new head coach,” Hargis said with a laugh Friday.
Hargis was named the baseball coach at his alma mater on Friday, replacing Greg Battistella.
Hargis’ hiring came just three days after Battistella told The New Orleans Advocate the school was making a coaching change. Battistella, who will remain at Holy Cross as a teacher and eighth-grade football coach, had spent a decade as baseball coach.
Battistella didn’t give specifics of why the change was made, deferring those questions to Holy Cross Athletic Director Barry Wilson, who hasn’t be able to be reached for comment.
Hargis, who played his senior season at Holy Cross under Battistella, said he talked to his former coach for about 30 minutes Friday.
“It’s been nothing but positive things,” Hargis said.
It will be the first head coaching job for Hargis, who spent one season as an assistant baseball coach at Southeastern Louisiana sandwiched between two one-year stints as an assistant at St. Thomas Aquinas.
He spent this past school year coaching football, serving as wide receivers coach at Holy Cross. He was also the head track coach.
“I’m legitimately fired up,” Hargis said. “I can’t wait to get started. I am truly excited about where we can take it. It starts this year really. This isn’t going to be a thing where we say three years from now, we’re going to do this. It can happen right now.”
Making the job even more special for Hargis is that he gets to do it at the same school where he garnered all-district honors twice two before going on to play at Southeastern Louisiana, where he remains the school’s all-time hits leader.
“Getting to coach here is unbelievable,” he said. “A lot of people don’t get that opportunity, especially their first head coaching opportunity. I’m honored and humbled. The amount of calls I have gotten from alumni, not just the ones I graduated with but going all the way back, the support has been unbelievable.”
Hargis doesn’t expect being just nine years removed from high school to be a factor in his success.
“I don’t feel 27. I actually feel younger,” Hargis said. “But experience-wise, with the experiences I have from playing and coaching at Southeastern, it helped me get ahead. It sped up the process so much more and I’m grateful for that.”
It also helps that he coached several of the baseball players who doubled as football players for the Tigers.
Holy Cross rising senior Kyle Schexnayder, who plays right field in baseball and quarterback in football, said he was pleased with the hire.
“It’s awesome,” Schexnayder said. “We are going to miss coach Batt because he did a lot for us. As soon as I heard the job was open, (Hargis) was the first person I texted and I told him he had to interview for the job. He was a great player here. He was a great player at Southeastern. He is a great football coach here. He just fits the program. I wanted to play for someone I knew my senior year.”
Hargis takes over a Holy Cross team that was one of the biggest surprises in the Catholic League in the spring. The Tigers started league play 5-0 before finishing in third place. The Tigers were No. 18 seed in the Class 5A playoffs and beat No. 15 seed Rummel in the opening round before getting swept in a best-of-three series against No. 2 seed and eventual runner-up Catholic High. They finished the season 20-15.
“When people come watch us play, they are going to see a team that plays the game hard and that has a whole lot of fun doing it,” Hargis said. “We are going to enjoy competing, but we are going to do it with a smile on our faces. We will enjoy the game and each other. When people leave, I don’t care what the scoreboard says, I want them to say Holy Cross played hard and they had fun.”
Hargis expects the success from 2015 to spill over into the 2016 season.
“I 100 percent believe we can,” he said. “Obviously the Catholic League is tough. But I don’t see any reason we can’t be up there with anyone else. I expect a lot out of the guys and the good thing is they expect a lot out of themselves. I think that will enable us to make a jump fairly quickly. We can do it with the kids we have.”