Laurence Manning Academy baseball Coach Barry Hatfield is always quick to point to his players' successes and not his own.
But after back-to-back State Championship wins from the Swampcats in 2016-17, it was hard for High School Sports Report to name anyone else as its 2017 South Carolina Independent School Association Coach of the Year.
Hatfield joined the LMA family as a teacher and assistant coach in the 2009-10 school year, he said Wednesday. He served for three years as the assistant coach before taking the reigns starting in the 2014 season after former coach Billy Sylvester chose a post closer to his hometown of Darlington.
Hatfield had an 118-77 overall record during his time as the head coach at Lakewood High School in Sumter, winning district titles in 2006 and 2008 and made the playoffs for nine straight years before he moved to LMA.
In his current position, he's led the Swampcats to the aforementioned two state titles and another State Championship appearance.
"My first year as head coach, we went to State and lost," he said. "The second year, we lost in the semifinals, and the last two years, we won State."
Close with Sylvester during their time working together, Hatfield said he couldn't turn down the opportunity to lead the Swampcats when his predecessor left.
"It's an opportunity I could never turn down," he said. "We have a tradition at LMA of being a really good baseball team. It's a challenge to live up to. I work hard at that each season."
He said his coaching philosophy is simple.
"We try to be fundamentally sound," he said. "We're not looking for great plays. We just want to make the routine play every time."