The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

High School Sports

May 25, 2013

Mercer accepts baseball position at Baxter Springs

Leaving Miami High School wasn’t an easy decision for Chris Mercer.

Not only had Mercer guided the Wardogs’ baseball team to almost 300 wins and three state tournament appearances in his 13 years as head coach, he also graduated from Miami High.

Mercer recently accepted the position of head baseball coach at Baxter Springs High School.

“It’s been very emotional,” Mercer said. “I’ve had a lot of support from the community.

“Baxter Springs is probably the only job I would have left for. There are a lot of appealing things there for me.”

The Lions finished 7-11 and were eliminated in the first round of the Class 4A regional this season. However, Baxter Springs boasts quite a baseball tradition. The Lions won back-to-back 3A state championships in 2006 and 2007 and in 2002 and 2003, as well as consecutive 4A titles in 1991 and 1992. Baxter Springs has captured seven state baseball titles since 1985.

“It’s a great baseball town,” Mercer said. “They have a great baseball tradition.”

Baxter Springs High School principal David Pendergraft is Mercer’s brother-in-law and had worked as an assistant coach with Mercer at Miami.

“He’s one of the No. 1 reasons I’m there,” Mercer said. “I coached with and against him. He’s had great things to say about the school system.”

Mercer led the Wardogs to 297 wins and state tournament appearances in 2001, 2002 and 2007. He also directed Miami’s American Legion team to a state title in 2005.

“He has a real good work ethic, and he works real well with the kids,” Baxter Springs athletics director Roger Reynolds said. “That’s what we look for at Baxter Springs.”

Mercer replaces Dusty Karnes, who was Baxter Springs’ interim head coach this past season. Karnes will return as an assistant for the Lions.

“I’ve know him for 20 years,” Mercer said of Karnes. “We’re on the same page. I know what he’s about, and how he approaches the game.”

Karnes is heading up Baxter’s American Legion team this summer, and Mercer is helping out.

“I’m there to evaluate and help where I can,” Mercer said. “I’m excited to get started.”

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