Southwestern head baseball coach Derik Hutton (in glasses) has resigned his position to take the principal job at at South Ripley Junior High School. (Courier file photo)
Southwestern head baseball coach Derik Hutton (in glasses) has resigned his position to take the principal job at at South Ripley Junior High School. (Courier file photo)
Derik Hutton may not have been able to bring home that elusive sectional championship to Southwestern, but his impact on the school’s baseball program cannot be measured in simply wins and losses.

Hutton officially resigned as head baseball coach at Southwestern High School on Monday night to accept the principal position at South Ripley Junior High School. Hutton led the Rebels for nine seasons, a time span that saw the program rise from the ashes to a legitimate conference and sectional contender.

“Our goal from the beginning was to make this program a contender,” Hutton said. “We knew that it would take a long time to get where we wanted to go but we feel like we succeeded and we were getting there the right way.”

Prior to Hutton’s hiring in 2010, Southwestern had six coaches in 11 years since winning the sectional title in 1999. That extreme turnover left the program without much of a base and it quickly became Hutton’s primary goal.

The Rebels won 11 games in his second year but spent his first six years well behind the field in both the Ohio River Valley Conference and a very tough sectional. It wasn’t until 2017 when things began to come together and Southwestern posted three-straight winning regular seasons.

Last year, Southwestern nearly reached the top. The Rebels went 19-10 to post its best record since 2000 and lost a heartbreaker to Austin in the sectional championship game.

Southwestern lost ace pitcher Bailey Elliott to graduation but returned virtually its entire lineup this year and was poised to have a spectacular campaign. But the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the season and the Rebels never had a chance to show their stuff.

“It was definitely a deflating moment for the coaches and players when it was announced that the season was canceled. We were one run away last year and we really felt like we were going to win it this year,” Hutton said. “I especially hate it for our seniors because they’re a really talented group and we were hoping to send them out on top but it wasn’t able to happen.”

Overall in nine seasons, Hutton posted a 95-138 record, but the Rebels went 46-35 over his final three seasons.

“Derik was a blessing for us. He was a highly qualified candidate when he took the job. He has done an excellent job in both creating and building a program and in making major improvements to our facilities,” Southwestern athletic director Tom Scroggins said. “He is a great teacher and coach and we are going to miss him.”

Hutton’s move to South Ripley was not an easy decision. A standout baseball player for the Raiders, he played collegiately at the University of Southern Indiana after graduating from Ripley in 2002 and began working at Southwestern High School shortly after graduation.

Several years ago he began to turn his eye towards administration and when the principal job at South Ripley opened up, he knew that it was a rare opportunity that he had to take.

“It was really two-fold; a chance to be closer to my family and chance to come back home. I wasn’t sure if I had a chance but I knew that I had to apply and give it a shot,” Hutton said. “This is a special place to me and South Ripley Junior High is a 4-star, Blue Ribbon school with so many accomplished teachers. It’s a young, vibrant school and I really couldn’t ask for more.”

Still, he struggled with the decision.

“I think a lot of people may think that it was an easy decision but it really wasn’t. I’ve been in Hanover and Jefferson County for 12 years and you make a lot of relationships that you treasure,” Hutton said. “The hardest thing I did was calling all of those players and telling them one by one my decision. And I’ve got to say, they were 100 percent behind me. That really made it easier knowing that they had your back like that.”

Hutton’s resignation will become official once the working year ends and he will then transition to his principal duties in Versailles. And although his coaching career is now over, he said to not expect to see him stay away from the baseball field.

“I’m sure there will be some games where people will say, ‘who’s that big guy watching from the outfield?’” Hutton said with a laugh. “And I’m not just talking about South Ripley games. I’ve been around those guys at Southwestern since they were in sixth grade, I know them well. There is no way that I’ll miss their games. I’ll still be cheering them on.”