Hutcherson to take helm of Panther Baseball program next season
By Lance Catchings
Starting next spring, the Liberty Hill High School baseball program will be under new leadership. Steven Hutcherson was hired as the head baseball coach over the summer and will begin his coaching duties with first coaching meetings set for July 20.
Hutcherson spent the past four seasons at Grapevine High School located in north Texas. There he compiled a 93-27-3 record in three seasons as the head baseball coach. He won the Division I 5A State Championship in 2016 and his team lost in the state final in 2017. Last season, his team made an area round exit by losing to the eventual state champion.
He comes to Liberty Hill with eight years of head coaching experience having also coached in Brackettville, Ganado and Lampasas prior to his success in Grapevine. He and his wife, Kristi, are excited about joining the Liberty Hill community.
“Liberty Hill has a reputation for being a good school district,” Hutcherson said. “The baseball program has always been strong here. When you are looking for a good fit you want to go to a program that has a chance to compete year in and year out. The facilities, fields and school lend itself to be an attractive spot.
“My wife and I are not from the Dallas area and our families are not in the Dallas area. Being in Liberty Hill gets us quite a bit closer to our families. My parents will eventually retire and will be just south of Austin, which was also important to us. With all the things Liberty Hill has going, it lent itself to be the perfect place at the perfect time for us.”
Hutcherson is originally from the Houston area and has been around the game of baseball all of his life. He is a 1998 graduate of Deer Park High School where he played, and then played four years of college baseball. After a stop at Alvin Junior College and University of Central Oklahoma, he graduated from Concordia University in Austin in 2004.
His baseball philosophy is simple. He believes in playing for your teammates and being aggressive.
“We will try to get a good team concept going where guys will fight for each other,” he said. “We want them to play for something other than themselves, but rather fight for their teammates. We want the teams to fight together for their common goal. The teams I have coached have been pretty aggressive. We will force our opponent to beat us rather than going through the game hoping it goes well. If you go out and attack the game of baseball and force your opponent to defend all 21 outs then you can win a lot of games. We want to put a lot of pressure on our opponents and never feel like we are in an uncomfortable situation. We will be very situation oriented to where nothing puts us out of our comfort zone.”
Anytime a head coach starts a new job it can be a daunting task, but Hutcherson is up for the challenge. His first priority is familiarizing himself with the players and what they can do.
“One of the main focuses coming in as the new coach is figuring out how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together,” he said. “We have to find out who we can put in certain positions and who can execute things.
“Liberty Hill is a place that has talent. It is not like one of our issues will be finding good players because they have good players here. The thing is getting those players to buy into one common goal and become a cohesive unit,” he said. “With the kids being in a new situation I will have to adjust to a few things and they will have to adjust to a few things I am asking them to do. It is not about showing up with a list of demands, but about learning who they are as players.”
Liberty Hill is a place with great tradition and community support and Hutcherson believes both qualities make starting here an exciting endeavor.
“When you are in a community that supports you like Liberty Hill does you want to allow yourself to be a fan of everything,” he said.
“If our football and basketball programs are successful, then I think it’s the best thing for our baseball program to be successful. I always get excited because I like challenges and anything that is new presents its own challenges. We had good success at Grapevine and I think there was a reason it happened and I think Liberty Hill has a lot of those qualities. I believe we can get there and I believe it will be exciting for us, the kids, and the community. If you are willing to go somewhere and take a new job it’s because you want to go there and give the community something to be proud of.”
Hutcherson hopes that the community will come out and support what the coaching staff and players will be building as they move into this new era. He knows that with hard work the players will get where they want to be.
“We are excited and Liberty Hill has the potential to be a very special place,” he said.
“Nothing comes without working at it. You want it to be immediate and people to buy into it and I hope it’s pretty immediate. At the same time if it’s a work in progress then as long as the coaching staff and kids are ready to put in the work the results will come.”
He believes that part of building players is not only coaching them on the field, but a successful program comes from the other side as well. The lessons he learned throughout his baseball career have had a positive influence in his life as an adult.
“I was a good player, but by no stretch of the imagination would I call myself a great player,” he said. “I don’t feel like I had anything handed to me as a player. It forced me to understand how hard you have to work to achieve a goal. That is really what helped me carry through life. The lessons I learned as a high school baseball player on how to work and better myself have carried right into my coaching career. Coaching is not an eight month out of the year thing, it’s a 12-month commitment and I never really turn it off. Some people say your life shouldn’t be your job, but if you love what you do then your life is your job. Baseball has given me so much as a person that everyday I show up to work I try to pay the game back for what it has given me.”
Head football coach and athletic director Jeff Walker said that he felt Hutcherson was the right man for the job. Liberty Hill strives to be the best in the state in every aspect academically and athletically.
“Part of it is that he has gotten it done in this profession and unfortunately we are graded by wins and losses,” Walker said.
“He has won it at a 5A school so he knows what great baseball looks like. He played for a state championship and he has won a state championship. Last year he lost to the eventual state champion. I tell people that you have to have players to win a state championship. He has had players, but you also have to have a coach that can put it all together and make it work. He is proven and I wanted somebody to come in that’s been proven and put on a ring before. Those coaches are hard to come by and when you have the opportunity to hire a coach that has won a state championship I don’t think you can pass on them. That is our goal in Liberty Hill in everything is to win state championships. We want to surround ourselves with people who have done that so we can do the same thing here in Liberty Hill.”