Cass Brister fired up to lead Enterprise varsity baseball program once again

Published 1:21 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Walk into the Enterprise baseball locker room and you’ll smell the aroma of cleaning agents and new paint. The floor has a freshly painted Old English “E” in the middle of it that’s been sealed, and game uniforms sit washed, folded, and neatly stacked in the corner of the coach’s office.

There is a new leader for the program as Cass Brister was recently approved by the Lincoln County School Board to take the position of head baseball coach. The facility might have received a recent scrubbing, but it’s a place that Brister knows well as he previously led the program as its head coach from 2009-2020.

Brister replaces Austin Hood, who coached the team for two seasons, went to the third round of the MHSAA 1A playoffs both years, and twice was named Daily Leader All-Area Coach of the Year.

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A standout pitcher at Loyd Star during his prep career, Brister went on to pitch at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. He then signed to play at the University of Montevallo before transferring to the University of Southern Mississippi. An arm injury in college ended his career before he pitched for the Golden Eagles, but Brister had always known he’d stay connected to the game by coaching.

He was hired to be an assistant coach at EAC in 2008 and was named head coach a year later.

His coach at Co-Lin, Hall of Famer Keith Case, had a big impact on Brister as Case ran a detail-oriented program in a style that Brister seeks to emulate.

“The way you go about things, the standard you set, you set that for yourself and if you can’t take pride in what you’ve got, then you aren’t going to have pride in anything,” said Brister. “That translates into how you practice, how you carry yourself on and off the field, and even how you treat your locker.”

In 2012, Brister led the Jackets to the third round of the MHSAA 2A playoffs after they won Region 7-2A. EAC was eliminated by Clarkdale in a three-game series. That was also the first season for the team to play at its new ballpark, Terry Brister Field.

Enterprise again won its region in 2014 and did it again in 2019. That 2019 group of Yellow Jackets featured future college baseball players in Landon Gartman (Pearl River, Memphis, Mississippi State), Hunter Richardson (Jones, Co-Lin), and Austin Fulger (Hinds CC).

The 2019 squad lost a three-game series to Taylorsville in the playoffs and after the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, Brister stepped away from coaching the high school team, but stayed involved in baseball by giving private lessons.

Last season, Brister started helping out on game days with the team. He’s coming back to full-time coaching with a renewed sense of energy and the goal of taking the Jackets farther than they’ve ever been in the postseason.

“I’ve been here a long time and I think I needed that break to recharge my batteries a little bit,” said Brister. “You get comfortable and that’s not always a good thing. I’m getting a group of guys that have never played under me and I feel more motivated than I’ve ever been to lead them every day in practice.”

There is a long time between now and the season opener, but Brister has baseball on his brain every day.

“I’ve got a legal pad beside my favorite chair at home and I’m constantly writing down things that I know we’ll need to work on,” said Brister. “I’m already thinking about Pisgah, the team we’ll open the season against next year.”

Enterprise only had one senior on its roster last season, so Brister is inheriting a seasoned group of players to lead in his first year back.

Headlining that group is reigning All-Area MVP Kelly Burgess, a junior pitcher. Other All-Area selections coming back next season for the Jackets include junior pitcher Ryder Martin, senior slugger Prewitt “Big Rig” Falvey, junior pitcher Cooper Jordan, senior utility player Nick Harris, and junior catcher Tucker Vining.

“The talent is definitely there. I’m not sure if we’ve ever had a group this deep,” said Brister. “My job is going to be preparing them for any situation we might run into, how you’ve got to respond when things aren’t going your way, and how to play together as a team. I’m really excited to get to work.”