After winning an astounding 74 percent of his games during his 12-year career as Hahnville’s head softball coach, Kenneth Vial will retire from the school where he has enjoyed monumental success.
Vial’s career officially came to an end on Monday with his team’s 8-5 loss to Alexandria Senior High School in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. Before this season’s abrupt end, Vial had led the Lady Tigers to five-straight appearances in the state tournament, which matches up the top eight Class 5A softball teams in Louisiana.
The Lady Tigers won the Class 5A state championship in 2011, becoming the only girls’ team in the history of Hahnville High School to win a state championship in any sport. Vial also led Hahnville to the state finals in both 2010 and 2012.
He finished his Hahnville coaching career with a 329-85 record.
Vial has spent 33 years as a coach in public schools. He began his career as a baseball coach at Central Lafourche before moving to Hahnville for a year. He then coached at Landry Middle School for 13 years before returning to Hahnville, where he spent the next 12 years.
Vial said the decision to retire was an easy one because he will now be able to watch his two sons, Brooks and Jared, play college baseball.
“It all came down to being able to jump in the car next spring and go watch Jared and Brooks play,” he said. “If I don’t go see them play now, it will be too late.”
Jared, a sophomore, is the starting third baseman for LSU-Shreveport. He is having a remarkable year, batting .352. Brooks is also having a lot of success during his freshman season with Delgado Community College. The pitcher, who was an All-State selection his senior year at Hahnville, is 7-1.
Vial credits a lot of his success to a special group of players that have come through Hahnville High School during his tenure.
“We had really good kids with a good understanding of what we wanted to do,” he said.
Though Vial will enjoy spending time with his family, he said he will always remember his team’s 2011 state championship. The Lady Tigers had lost in the 2010 state championship game, but came out on a mission to win the title the next season. They finished with a 32-3 record and entered the playoffs as the No. 4 seed. They destroyed Terrebonne by 10 runs in the first round before holding on for a 1-0 regional victory over Slidell. In the state championship game, the Lady Tigers built up a 6-0 lead over Denham Springs and fought off a late rally to claim the state title.
“That will always stick with me because I’m a Hahnville person. I was born and raised here and played here. This will always be a special place for me,” Vial said. “Being able to come here and win that state championship is something I will never forget.”
Vial also led Hahnville to three-straight state title games from 2010-2012, a feat rarely seen in any sport at any level.
“That was such a special group of kids,” Vial said. “I had a four-year run with those kids and we had zero issues. They played the game right.”
Getting the chance to mentor those players is what Vial will miss the most.
“You learn to appreciate the kids that we had here. All of those kids are very appreciative of what the coaches did, but we are very appreciative of what they did for us,” Vial said. “They were a true team that worked together well.”
While Vial will spend most of the spring watching his own sons play, he said he will still find time to watch Hahnville softball.
“I will still be there because I enjoy the kids,” he said. “In fact, I might sit in right field and yell at the coach.”
The search to find Vial’s replacement is already underway and perspective coaches will be interviewed next week.
|Hahnville head coach Kenneth Vial, shown above giving signs to a base runner, has announced his retirement. Vial finished his Hahnville career with a 329-85 record.|