Kurt Goluba, an assistant coach for the River Ridge softball team the past two seasons as well as the father of ace Makenzie Goluba, has been hired to replace longtime coach Ernie Beck, becoming the program's third coach.
Goluba, who has coached little league and travel ball teams in Pasco County, inherits the best softball program in the county from Beck, who begrudgingly retired at the end of last season after concluding his fifth year in the Deferred Retirement Option Program.
In 19 seasons, Beck won the district championship or finished runner-up 16 times. The Royal Knights won 20 or more games 12 times, and Beck finished with a career record of 429-137.
"Absolutely there's a little bit of pressure,'' said Goluba. "The team making the regional final last two years in a row, that creates a little bit of added pressure but I'm confident we'll get there and go further this year. I don't want any drop off in production."
Goluba inherits a team that returns almost everyone, include the Tampa Bay Times' Player of the Year Kenzi Maguire, first-teamer Madisyn Palmer and his daughter, who last season became the school's all-time leader in victories. Makenzie Goluba will enter the 2014-15 season with a 56-8 career record and a 0.91 ERA.
"We lost some top players, like Morgan Tolle, but I still have a pretty good group returning,'' the new coach said.
Despite the program's success, River Ridge (26-4 last season) hasn't had enough players to field a junior varsity team the past two seasons. Kurt Goluba said he hopes to change that this season.
"We definitely want to keep this going,'' he said.