By Robert Smith

Hartfield Academy baseball coach Chuck Box is going to be a Texas A&M Aggie.

Box has been hired by Texas A&M as director of player development and will be competing against Ole Miss and Mississippi State in the rugged SEC for players from the South, including Mississippi.

Box goes to Texas A&M after four years at Hartfield where he had two state championship runner-up finishes. He guided the Hawks to a school record 35 victories and only four losses and their second appearance in the MAIS Class 4A state championship series this season. Hartfield lost its first two games of the season to Starkville Academy and MAIS Class 5A state champion Jackson Prep before going on their school record 34-game winning streak. Hartfield fell three wins short of tying the MAIS record of most consecutive wins in a season, 37 set by Magnolia Heights in 2013. Before coming to Hartfield, Box won 283 games and six state championships in 10 seasons at Jackson Prep.

Box has more than a decade of college experience. He was the head coach at Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) University and Itawamba Community College for a combined 11 seasons where he won 363 games. Box, a 1991 Freed-Hardeman graduate and a 2010 Freed-Hardeman Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, guided his alma mater to a 44-10 record and a TranSouth Conference regular season championship and was ranked as high as No. 7 the national NAIA coaches poll in 1997. He also led Itawamba to a No. 1 national ranking in 2000 and a state junior college championship. Box joins a new staff at Texas A&M. Highly successful head coach Jim Schlosnagle comes from TCU where he took the Horned Frogs to five College World Series, including four straight from 2014-2017. Also, on the staff is pitching coach Nate Yesire, who helped Arizona get to the CWS this season, and defeated Ole Miss in the Super Regional.

“It is a great opportunity to be in the greatest conference in the country, one of the best schools in the country and work for one of the most successful head baseball coaches in the country,” Box said. “I’m excited about getting into college coaching again. I will be in charge of developing players in a variety of ways and also working with recruiting. I met Coach Scholsnagle years ago through a mutual friend and we’ve continued our friendship over the years. I’m going to miss Hartfield and the community, and we will always have fond memories of there. I’m looking forward to the next challenge.” Hartfield head of school David Horner hated to see Box go, but knows it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

“Chuck is one of the most organized and detailed coaches I’ve been around in any sport,” Horner said. “He has an extreme passion for achieving success and sets standards at the highest levels. Hartfield has benefitted greatly from his leadership and presence in our baseball program, and we wish him nothing but the best in this amazing opportunity.

“We have a great program in place and an outstanding team returning so we are excited for the next coach that will lead our kids and be a part of all God is doing at Hartfield.”

Hartfield’s next coach will return a great nucleus from this year’s team. Three Mississippi State verbal commitments return in rising senior outfielder Colton Bradley, rising senior pitcher-first baseman Lincoln Sheffield and rising junior pitcher-outfielder Brodey Walker. Bradley and Sheffield along with rising senior relief pitcher Alex McGarrh made the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Baseball Team this season. Sheffield recently made the All-Tournament Team at the 17-and-under USA National Team Championships in North Carolina. Sheffield and Bradley were the only juniors from Mississippi to be named to the Collegiate Baseball All-American teams. Eighty-three percent of the pitching victories and 80 percent of the at-bats from this season return next year. Hartfield is moving up to Class 6A and will be in the same classification with Prep, MRA and Jackson Academy next season.