MAN — There will be changes coming next season for the Man High School baseball team.
The Hillbillies will be heading back up to the Double-A ranks for the first time in more than a decade.
Man will be playing in a new yet-to-be determined sectional.
The Billies will also be looking for a new coach.
Longtime Man baseball mentor Larry Vance has resigned as head coach and will be headed to coach at Ambassador Christian Academy, a private school in Williamson.
ACA Athletics Director Donald Lafferty, also a former Man High School baseball coach, made the announcement on Friday.
“We’re thrilled to bring Coach Vance into the Eagles family,” Lafferty said. “Erwin McManus quotes ‘We are all time voyagers leaving history in our wake, pioneering into the future.’ We’re grateful for all our pioneering coaches. This is an exciting day for ACA baseball.”
Vance coached at Man for 10 seasons, leading the Hillbillies to the Class A state championship in 2014, two runner-up finishes and six overall state tournament appearances.
He will leave some tough shoes to fill at Man.
Vance said he’s happy to coach at ACA.
“I’m excited to be a part of the ACA family,” Vance said. “The school’s academics, administration and personnel are amazing. The opportunity to train young men seventh through 12th grades year-round is something I couldn’t turn down. The possibilities of this academy are endless. We hope to be a regional team, participating spring, summer and fall and compete in the WVCAT state tournament. The team will also travel south competing at Myrtle Beach and the National Association of Christian Athletes (NACA) tournament in Tennessee. I’m thankful for the opportunity Mr. Lafferty has given me to be a part of the professional staff and coaches serving now.”
Vance, a graduate of Man High School, served as head coach of the Hillbillies in the 2005 and 2006 seasons then came back to lead the Billies from 2009-16.
The 2014 season was the zenith of his coaching stint at Man.
After a season facing some stiff competition, Man went to the state tournament and knocked off St. Marys 3-1 to advance to the finals.
The Billies then won a memorable and thrilling 12-10, 10-inning game over Clarksburg Notre Dame at Charleston’s Appalachian Power Park to take the Class A state championship. Man finished with a 21-12 record.
At season’s end Vance was named as the West Virginia Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year.
Man returned to the state tournament in 2015, downing Moorefield 5-1 in the state semifinals before falling 7-0 to Wahama in the championship game. The Billies closed out with a 19-15 record.
This past season Man struggled, particularly with the bats but somehow found a way to return to the Class A state tournament with a losing record. For Man it was team team’s third straight appearance in the state tourney.
Man had a rematch with Wahama, this time in the state semifinals, as the Billies lost 3-0 to the White Falcons, closing out the season at 12-18.
The Billies had advanced with a thrilling 1-0 victory over Greater Beckley Christian in the Class A Region 3 championship game at home.
Man loses pitching ace Jake Adkins to graduation.
Coach Vance also had other successful seasons at Man, leading the Billies to state runner-up finishes in 2009 and 2010.
Vance played collegiately at West Virginia State for head coach Cal Bailey from 1981-84.
Ambassador Christian Academy is a private Christian school founded in 2014 and located in Williamson.
Ambassador Christian Academy is a consolidation of Regional Christian School of Delbarton (1999) and Williamson Christian School of Williamson (2008).