Nineteen years ago, then Petal athletic director Larry Watkins approached Wendy Hogue with the idea to bring a fast-pitch softball program to the school. An assistant slow-pitch coach at Petal since 1998, Hogue jumped at the opportunity to help found the program, and she served as its first head coach from 2000 to 2004.
Now, after head coaching stops at her alma mater, William Carey, and Southern Miss, Hogue is back where it all started. Less than a week after resigning from her post at Southern Miss, she was introduced Wednesday afternoon as Petal’s new softball coach.
“Anytime you enter a new season of life, it’s certainly accompanied by excitement,” Hogue said. “For this one, it’s kind of a homecoming. I did not attend Petal schools, but this was my first job. This was my first coaching job, this was my first love as far as teaching and coaching goes.”
In 10 seasons at William Carey, Hogue posted three seasons with 50 or more wins and six seasons of 40-plus victories. She spent the last five seasons at Southern Miss, where she guided the Golden Eagles to a pair of 30-win campaigns, including one this past season.
“It’s been such an honor and a blessing to coach at Southern Miss these past five years,” she said. “The administration, the fans, the team, it’s been great, but I have a 15-year-old and a 7-year-old. And man, I sure do miss spending time with them. To coach Division I softball to the best of your ability, you gotta be on the road a lot, and it was just to the point where if we were gonna continue to succeed the way everybody wants us to succeed, you just had to make some decisions. With Kinley and Keaton in the picture, this job was a much better fit for our family, so we’re excited about the future.”
At Petal, Hogue replaces Jonathan Robertson, who spent three seasons leading the program. The Lady Panthers are coming off a successful 2019 season that saw them reach the second round of the Class 6A playoffs, and they’re set to lose only three seniors, according to MaxPreps.
“They’ve got a great team here and some experience,” Hogue said. “But the thing I’m most excited about is helping these girls through these next few years. I’ve been on the other side of it with the recruiting process. I know what college coaches are looking for, and I know what it takes to be successful at the next level. I’ve been a high school athlete, I’ve been a college athlete, and now I’m fortunate enough to make a living coaching the sport. I’m just excited about partnering with these girls and having an opportunity to provide a little guidance and some direction for them.”