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Kirby tasked with restoring baseball glory in Houston

Derick Kirby wants Houston baseball back on top.

He’ll get his chance, having been named head coach last week. Kirby has been the school’s softball coach the past 10 seasons.

He was a baseball assistant from 2012-14, when the Hilltoppers began an ascent that culminated in a state championship in 2015 – a year after he took the softball job.

“I think I bring something to the table over there that we haven’t had in a while. I’m from here, I graduated from Houston and played baseball here,” Kirby said. “… Just knowing what it can be and what they can do, if they’ve got somebody there that can get it out of them.”

Kirby replaces Gary-Scott Gabbert, who left to be an assistant coach at Lewisburg. Houston went 16-10 this year and lost in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs to Itawamba AHS.

After a decade of coaching softball, Kirby admits there will be a readjustment period, but he expects it to be a quick process.

“We played a summer game the other night, and by the end of the game, I was already back in that baseball mode,” he said. “It’s not going to take long. By the end of the summer I’m going to be pretty well rolling.”

Kirby began his coaching career at Hebron Christian, where he was head baseball coach. He then came to Houston to coach slow-pitch softball and eventually joined the baseball staff.

His fast-pitch teams were perennial contenders; Kirby had a record of 178-73-2 and led the Toppers to the Class 3A state title in 2018. He said while he thoroughly enjoyed his time coaching softball, Kirby felt it was time for a change – both for himself and for the baseball program.

“I think the guys have it in them,” he said. “I’ve got a great staff with me that’s been there. I think we can do it. I’m not saying next year, but the goal is Houston baseball back in a state championship.”