Summerville baseball coach Burt Bazzle steps down after 28 seasons

Summerville baseball coach Burt Bazzle celebrated his 500th victory last season. (Roger Lee/Journal Scene)

Summerville High School coach Burt Bazzle is stepping down as baseball coach after 28 seasons at the school.

Bazzle, 56, recorded 515 victories at Summerville and led the Green Wave to the Class AAAA state championship in 2003.

Bazzle cited the increased time demands of coaching baseball and expressed a desire to spend more time with his family. The coach recently lost a brother-in-law to brain cancer.

"I think it's the right time for me," Bazzle said Friday. "There are some family considerations and family has always been most important to me. I really need to spend more time with my family and with all of the work involved in preparing for a baseball season, I just felt overwhelmed.

"I've had 28 great years as the baseball coach, but now is the time to move on."

Bazzle will remain as the school's B-team football coach. He said the new rules regarding open fall practices for baseball, as well as the time he spent taking care of the baseball facility, became too much for him to handle.

"Baseball has become almost a year-round deal now and the time demands on coaches are so different than they were when I started," he said. "It used to be we would finish with football in November and have until February to get ready for baseball. It's not that way anymore. It's a very daunting task and I didn't feel I could give it the time and effort that it needed."

Bazzle leaves the Summerville program in great shape. The 2014 squad will likely begin the season as a top 10 team in class AAAA and should be a state title contender. The coach admits he is not sure how he will feel when tryouts and practices start in three weeks.

"I will really miss the day-to-day contact with the kids and the fellowship involved with all of the great coaches in this area," he said. "I will miss the competition. I won't miss the work involved in preparing the field and playing three games a week. I won't miss the time it takes me from my family.

"I hope to see a few games now and then, but if I do, it will be from a distance. I really want to step away and let the next guy have the program."

Allen Bridges, who has been a part of the baseball program for a number of years as the junior varsity coach, will coach the varsity team this spring. His son Sawyer, a junior right-handed pitcher, will anchor a strong returning pitching staff. It has not been determined if the school will seek another varsity coach after this season.

"Coach Bridges has been a part of the program for a long time and he knows the kids and the kids know him," said Bazzle. "It should be a smooth transition and I think they have a great chance to compete at a very high level this season."