Head Baseball Coach
In August, Rick Hitt began his 19th year at SFSC and ushered in his 18th baseball team when the season began in January. During his 29-year coaching career, Hitt has had the distinction of coaching many talented players.
“My expectations of the players are simple: dedicate yourself to being an outstanding young man and representative of SFSC, commit youself to academic accountability and graduation, and play the greatest game in the world as hard as you can play it whenever you get the chance. The growth that occurs within this process has the opportunity to stay with you as you venture on in life. “
As a pitcher at Santa Fe Community College, Hitt helped the Saints to a third place finish in the 1985 National Junior College Athletics Association (NJCAA) Word Series playing for NJCAA and American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Hall of Fame coach Harry Tholen. Hitt completed his baseball playing career at St. Thomas University, where he played for current Louisiana State University (LSU) and 2014 ABCA Hall of Fame inductee Paul Mainieri. “I was blessed to have played for two highly respected coaches and outstanding people during my collegiate career. It is not often on can say they played for two coaches who are hall of famers. I am very grateful for the opportunity they provided me.“
Hitt is in his second full term as the NJCAA Coaches Association President and in his 13th year as a member of the Florida College System Activities Association (FCSAA) State Baseball Committee. Hitt recently completed his third year as a member of the prestigious ABCA board of director, serves on the ABCA executive committee, and is a member ABCA’s standing committee. In November he was inducted into the FCSAA Hall of Fame.
When not at the ballpark, Hitt enjoys spending time with his family, the occasional round of golf, and morning walks with the family dog Willy. He and wife Jayma recently celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary. Their daughters Sydney, 21, and Cassady, 19, are graduates of SFSC.
Hitt and his players look forward to the ride in 2017. “It is a great game, and one of the reasons why is the enjoyment of taking the ride with a great group of people around you. My hope is our players will embrace that and enjoy the opportunities this season presents.”
Assistant Baseball Coach
In his first year at SFSC, Assistant Coach Mark Ward is looking forward to working with Coach Rick Hitt in developing a pitching staff that will take the Panthers to the next level.
Ward is a graduate of Indian River State College where he was a member of the 1988 and 1989 baseball teams. He transferred to Lynn University, where he pitched and went on to serve as an assistant coach. Ward was the pitching coach at Indian River in 1997 and 2011-2016 where 14 players signed professional contracts. He coached Florida Gator Jonathon Crawford who was drafted in the first round by Detroit Tigers.
In 2005, Ward’s pitching staff guided Okeechobee High School to the state finals. Ward has coached 15 plus years at the high school level with over 12 pitchers going on to pitch in college. “Mark Ward is a winner and has a track record for developing pitchers. We are very fortunate to have him at SFSC leading our pitching staff.”
Ward has been married to Jenny Ward for 22 years with 3 daughters Britani, Krista, Lexi and a son Bryce. Ward has taught economics at Okeechobee High School for the past 25 years.