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RHS welcomes new softball coach

Coming off of a season of new experiences and success in 2019, the Russellville High School varsity softball team will have a new head coach for the 2020 season.

At a meet-and-greet held at RHS, the public had the opportunity to welcome Josh Graham as the new head coach of the Russellville program. Graham comes to RHS from Lawrence County High School, where he was leader of the Lady Devils from 2015-2019.  

During those five seasons, LCHS sat atop the area standings for three straight years starting in 2015. That season, his team made it to state in Montgomery. The Lady Devils also won the area tournament to advance to the Class 5A North Regional each year from 2015-18.  

In 2018 the Lady Devils won the area tourney at East Limestone and made it to regional play for a fourth straight year under Graham before that streak came to an end last season.

Kathryn Montgomery led the Lady Golden Tigers to the regular season area championship and the area tournament title for the first time in program history during a memorable 2019 season, but she has since moved on to take the head coaching job at Brooks High School. Montgomery spent three seasons at RHS, and all of her teams made it to regional play during that time.

The squad Graham inherits is full of talent and experience. Six seniors, all with multiple years of starts under their belts, anchor the roster for the upcoming 2020 season. Additionally, many experienced younger players also return after already seeing action on the varsity team in previous seasons.

“I’m excited to be here,” Graham said. “There’s a very exciting atmosphere here.  You can tell there’s a lot of tradition and a lot of pride in this place.

“I’ve competed against some of these girls for their whole careers, so it’s going to be good to be in the same dugout and compete with these girls now instead of against them,” he added.

Graham is a 2003 graduate of Pontotoc High School in Mississippi. He went on to play baseball at Itawamba Community College and UNA. His coaching background also includes time as a graduate assistant at UNA and a year as a baseball assistant coach at Bob Jones.  

Along with being the head softball coach at LCHS, he also was on the football coaching staff there.

RCS Superintendent Heath Grimes shared about how the process of bringing Graham to Russellville got started.

“The first thing I did was reach out to the softball booster club, and I asked them to give me three names and let me go to work from there,” Grimes explained. “Obviously, I’ve known Coach Graham and would have loved to have reached out to him, but I wanted it to be something our community could support and our softball boosters could support. When I found out he was one of the three they were highly interested in, I was able to go to work.  

“He had a very mutual interest, so, I’m just excited.”

A large number of softball parents and supporters were joined by members of the RCS faculty to welcome Graham, his wife and young daughter at the event.

“Josh is a very humble guy with a lot of character and a lot of class. Nobody is going to outwork him at any softball program in the state,” Russellville athletics director and head football coach John Ritter said. “It’s a great hire for our softball program.”