Parrish coach Chris Harris and Lynn coach Philip Smith have been suspended due to an altercation that involved both schools at the Aggie Classic in Hamilton last month, according to a source close to the situation.
Players and assistant coaches from each team were involved in an incident on the field during the championship game of the tournament.
Though neither head coach was directly involved in the altercation, the Alabama High School Athletic Association suspended both Harris and Smith through the end of the 2012 season. Both assistant coaches involved were also suspended for the season, according to the source.
Parrish has not played a game since the altercation and cancelled its Best in Bama Tournament scheduled for March 23-24 as well as a game against Addison last week.
The Lady Tornadoes, ranked No. 3 in 1A, are now under interim head coach Heath Burns while Lynn, ranked No. 5, is being led by Adam Gray, who is already 3-0 since assuming head coaching duties.
Burns, Parrish’s head boys basketball coach who is in first year as assistant for the softball team, will be aided by Kaley Gurley, the Parrish girls basketball coach.
Gray coaches both the boys and girls basketball teams at Lynn and led the Lady Bears to the Northwest Regional Tournament championship game in February.
Parrish plays its first game without Harris today at Hubbertville. The Lady Tornadoes return home against Berry at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Burns said he doesn’t plan on changing much. “When you are 17-2, you aren’t doing many thing wrong,” Burns said at practice on Monday. “We are going to try to continue what we’ve been doing. Through these first 19 games, I’ve learned a lot from coach Harris, the way he runs things.
“It’s tough on the girls losing a guy who has been here with them so long. It’s tough for me, because he’s one of my best friends. I miss him being out there. We are just going to try to tough this out and do it for coach Harris.”
Prior to the suspensions, Burns worked with Parrish’s infielders and served as a hitting coach for the Lady Tornadoes.
“To go from that to being a head coach is a little bit different,” said Burns, who played baseball in college, finishing his career at Trevecca-Nazarene in Nashville.
“It’s fun coaching a group of girls like this. They always get after it. There is a standard that has been set with this program. This team could make a run at a state championship, I think they are that good. The sky’s the limit for this group. I just hope I can step in and make this a smooth transition.”
Lynn has already reeled off three straight wins under Gray.
The Lady Bears improved to 25-3 with a 5-1 victory over Winfield, the No. 5 team in Class 3A on Monday. Lynn travels to Marion County today.
“I’ve got a lot of the same girls for basketball. I know them all,” added Gray. “I’ve coached baseball for 10 years total. I haven’t in the last few years. This is my first with softball.
“This is a good group of girls. When we come to play, we are pretty good. When we pitch well and field well, we have a chance to win.”
Both Parrish and Lynn advanced to the Central Regional Tournament in Vestavia Hills last season with the Lady Tornadoes knocking Lynn out of the tournament. Lynn has been to the state tournament multiple times under Smith.
Both teams are on track to return to the regional again this season. Parrish and Lynn have been ranked in the top 5 in 1A all season.