But he may have to stand waiting at the plate for awhile. Asked to explain this stunning turn of events, Mount Paran officials have balked.
Mount Paran Headmaster David Tilley, in a terse, one-sentence email Wednesday, said when asked about Cochran’s impending dismissal, “We do not comment on employment issues.” Athletic Director Mitch Jordan also did not answer or return repeated calls from the Journal on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Cochran was informed via a telephone call from Jordan on Tuesday that he won’t be back next season, with the only reason being the school is heading in “different direction.”
This leaves Cochran, and many others, wondering just which path the “different direction” travels from 21-2.
At this point, Cochran just wants to make sure everyone of the Eagles’ players, parents and fans know one thing.
“I told Mitch (Jordan), ‘Just make sure people realize I didn’t do anything wrong,’” Cochran said.
As it turns out, Cochran is not the only baseball personnel matter Mount Paran is going to have to deal with.
Pitching coach Dave McDonald, a former long-time Wheeler coach, has already said he will not return. Cochran said assistant coach Jim Rismiller, who is a current school administrator, is planning on retiring at the end of the school year.
Kenny Palmer has been offered a new contract to remain at Mount Paran, but Cochran did not want to speculate whether Palmer will remain with the baseball team.
In the end, it could leave assistant coach Kyle Reese by himself in the dugout.
Reese, a former player for Cochran at North Cobb, was hired before the season from St. Francis High School in Alpharetta, with the plan that he would succeed his mentor as coach. However, that wasn’t supposed to happen for another season.
“When I was hired, I told Dr. Tilley, ‘I’ll give you five years,’” Cochran said.
“We talked about it again last year, and I told him we didn’t really have anyone on the current staff that was ready to be a full-time head coach. That’s why we brought in Kyle.”
Cochran expects the school still intends to have Reese, who was drafted by the Atlanta Braves out of high school, to take over the program next year.
Mount Paran has steadily improved since Cochran took over the program in 2009.
The Eagles went 14-14 in Cochran’s first season, then fell back to 10-15 in 2010 before improving to 20-11 last year and advancing to the second round in their first state playoff appearance since 2006.
Mount Paran, whose only losses have come against Class AAAA Kell and Region 6A rival Darlington, has also beaten three Class AAAAA teams and two out-of-state opponents.
“He’s certainly put his mark on the program,” said Marietta attorney Fred Bentley Jr., who also played for Cochran at North Cobb and helped bring his former coach to Mount Paran. “He was brought in to create a winning program, and that’s what he’s done.”
Led by Ryan Murphy, who began the week second in the county in batting average (.473) and first in RBIs (23), and a pitching staff of Logan Haner, Jordan VerSteeg and Andrew Maxwell, who each have five wins and ERAs of 1.01 or lower, Mount Paran Christian is a legitimate contender for the state championship.
Cochran talked with his players for the first time about the situation before practice Wednesday. Despite the turmoil, he said he does not believe this will become a distraction on the field.
“It shouldn’t,” he said. “These kids are all young enough and resilient enough that all they have to do is go out and do what they know how to do.”
Cochran has compiled a 675-354 record in his four decades as a high school baseball coach, including a 64-42 mark in his four years with the Eagles.
He made his biggest mark at North Cobb, where he won 571 games and led the Warriors to seven region titles. .