Long-time Associate Head Baseball Coach Casey Underwood has been named the new head coach of the Snead State baseball team. The announcement was made Tuesday by Snead State Athletic Director Mark Richard.
"I have complete confidence that Coach Underwood will do an outstanding job of moving our baseball program forward here at Snead State," said Mr. Richard. "He's been a dedicated, hardworking coach for us for several years now, and I have no doubt that will continue. He's loyal, always a positive team player and is a true ambassador for our college."
"This is an outstanding hire for our college. Casey's passion and energy will make for a great student-athlete experience for those fortunate enough to play for him. I'm excited for both Casey and the future of Snead State baseball."
Underwood's promotion comes after having spent the last 13 seasons as an associate head coach for the Parsons. He replaces the highly respected Hall of Fame coach Gerry Ledbetter, who recently retired after serving as the Parsons' head baseball coach for 26 years. Casey had served as the acting head coach since May 8.
"We went through a thorough process and interviewed several quality candidates. Casey did an excellent job of sharing his vision for the program," said Snead State President Dr. Robert Exley.
"Coach Underwood has been a huge part of the success that our program has had over the years and is a proven advocate for our college. I fully expect him to take the program to new heights."
Underwood, 33, came to Snead State to play for Coach Ledbetter as a walk-on baseball player from Glades Day School in Florida in 2003. He earned a baseball scholarship after one semester. He graduated from Snead State and became the assistant baseball coach.
"Casey was the best thing that happened to me. He's just like my son. When he played for me, former Jacksonville State baseball coach Rudy Abbott told me I needed to hire him. He was consumed with baseball," said Ledbetter.
Ledbetter believes the new position, which is full-time, is a tremendous step forward and will be a difference maker for the baseball program.
"I've had the privilege of watching Casey evolve not only as a player but as a coach and a leader. He loves the game of baseball and loves the players. He's been very loyal to our program, and without him, I don't think we would have had the success we've had. He's going to do a really good job."
From 2005-2018, the Parsons picked up 265 wins and have had four Alabama Community College Conference Tournament appearances over the last seven years. Underwood has coached two All-Americans, 25 Academic All-Americans, had four Academic All-American teams and has had over 80 players move on to play baseball at a four-year school after playing for Snead State. One player signed with Washington Nationals affiliate the Hagerstown Suns following two years of playing professionally in independent baseball with the Joliet Slammers.
"I am excited and honored to have the privilege of being the next head baseball coach at Snead State," said Underwood. "I would like to thank Snead State President Dr. Robert Exley and Athletic Director Mark Richard for entrusting me to lead the program Coach Ledbetter and teams before us have taken years to build. I'm looking forward to continuing the strong tradition that everyone has come to expect from Snead State baseball and moving the program forward while honoring its past."
"Snead State is a special place to me. It's home to me and the place that gave me an opportunity to fulfill my dream of playing college baseball and the opportunity of coaching college baseball. I'm thankful for the support my parents and family have always shown me, and I also want to thank Coach Ledbetter. He gave me a chance and believed in me. And, he and Mrs. Led have taken me in all these years."
In 2014, Underwood was named the Assistant Coach of the Year by the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association and was also a recipient of the Alabama Community College System's Chancellor Award. He is a member of the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association and a former ALABCA Committee Member.
A native Floridian from Belle Glade, Casey graduated from Glades Day School in 2003. He earned an Associate of Science degree in physical education from Snead State and a Bachelor of Arts degree in sports management from Ashford University.
As the associate head coach, Underwood was responsible for recruiting high-quality student-athletes, scheduling games, fundraising, field work, camps and service learning and overseeing the team's practice organization, hitters and academics.
"As a student, I was impressed by the true commitment of the faculty to work with student-athletes to reach the goal of graduating. The encouragement from the athletic department to achieve academic success also impressed me. Now, I get to show our student-athletes that same commitment and give them the encouragement they need to finish their degree," said Underwood.
For the first time in the history of the Snead State baseball program, all 20 sophomores graduated in 2014. Every year since then, the Parsons have averaged a 94-percent graduation rate or better.
Underwood believes athletics on the community college level offers students the opportunity to become part of the college community.
"As a coach who is a former Snead State student-athlete, I am able to talk first-hand about my experience as a student-athlete here. I am able to encourage them regarding the quality of our program, the college, our conference and the dedication to excellence that exists in all areas of the athletic program. I can tell their parents from experience about our priority and commitment to academics."
"I'm ready to build on a program full of integrity that will continue to represent the State, College and athletic department in a first-class manner in all areas of operation," said Underwood. "I am confident that our talented group of sophomores and our newcomers we have this year will be ready to work towards our goal of competing at the highest level on the field and in the classroom."