Davidson Earns Full-Time Job
Central removes interim tag from softball coach
WHEELING — Wheeling Central athletics director Donnie Murray spent all summer looking for the right person to lead the Maroon Knights softball team into the future.
Turns out, he didn’t have to look very far.
Buck Davidson took over the team early last season on an interim basis after the sudden resignation of successful coach Rick Magruder. All he did was lead the team to a third straight West Virginia Class A state championship.
Now the job belongs all to him.
Davidson was recently named full-time coach of the Maroon Knights, giving the team a new voice as it tries to make it four in a row next spring.
“I’m really excited and I know that it is going to be an adjustment, but I can’t wait to get started with these girls,” Davidson said.
Magruder stepped down March 27 after three games and Murray quickly tabbed Davidson to finish out the season.
Under Davidson, the Maroon Knights went 19-4, earning a spot in the OVAC Class 3A title game, winning the W.Va. Class A Region One title and returned to the state tournament for the fifth straight season.
The Maroon Knights went 3-0 in Vienna and secured a third straight championship.
“When we needed someone to step in and jump into the situation when Coach Magruder stepped down, Coach Davidson was a guy that we felt we could put in and manage the season successfully and finish with the end goal of winning a state championship,” Murray said.
“He had already put a system in place and we feel like he earned the opportunity to build off that success.
“Coach Davidson is a guy that we feel can challenge the young men and women to not only be successful on the field, but he also has the patience to help them become stronger individuals off it.
“He has a calm, cool demeanor and that helped put everything back together and in the right direction. This is a guy as a firefighter, when people are running away from burning buildings, he is running in trying to help people. We are excited to have him finish what he started.”
Following the state championship victory against Morefield, Davidson was unsure if he wanted the job full-time, but his hire seemed like a no-brainer if he did.
“I like the game of softball and I really want to teach the girls what they need to do to reach the next level,” Davidson said. “It really has nothing to do with wins and losses. It has to do with the little things, whether that is on the field or off of it.”
Davidson hopes to bring a more aggressive style to the Maroon Knights.
“Being aggressive is an important part of the game,” Davidson said. “Rick and those guys did a great job through the years and everything they did was successful. The game changes over time and I think being a little more aggressive will be beneficial to us.”
When Davidson took over last March, the expectations were as high as you will find in sports.
Wheeling Central was coming off two straight state championships — a 33-0 record included in that run — as well as bringing back the majority of the team’s starters.
Riley Bennington and Marissa Garlitz were two of the top pitchers in the state and the offense was loaded with power.
The team didn’t miss a beat in securing a three-peat.
However when the team takes the field next spring, it will look much different.
Gone will be Bennington, Garlitz and many of the other players that helped Central on its remarkable run.
But the cupboard is far from bare and the expectations will remain the same.
Kaitlyn Ferns enters her senior season with Division I offers coming in. Jairika Baylor was named first team all-state as a freshman. Davidson’s daughter, Ally, will also return after a solid season.
“It will be a different mentality with so many new faces,” Davidson said. “Jobs will be open and it will be interesting to see who takes those.
“Expectations will be the same. We plan to be the best we can be and work hard like always.”
In the coming months, Davidson will look to round out his staff. He will likely have longstanding assistant Ed Cihy by his side and hopes Ambrose Bober will stick around. He would like to add a female assistant.