Donegal Fergus had no intention of leaving what he calls the “premier junior college program in the Northwest.”
The plan was to build on a successful first season as the Lower Columbia College head baseball coach with a highly-rated incoming recruiting class.
“But when the Pac-12 and the UW calls, it’s hard to turn that down,” Fergus said.
And so Fergus accepted an assistant coaching position with the Washington Huskies on Tuesday night.
He will be in charge of recruiting and hitting for the Division-I squad.
“Professionally, it was too good an opportunity to pass up,” Fergus said. “When you start out in this business, if you’re ambitious, you want to always challenge yourself.
“For college coaches, that Pac-12, major-conference level is where it’s at.”
In his lone season as head coach at LCC, Fergus compiled a 34-14 record and led the Devils to the West Region playoffs. The highlight was a 22-game win streak that was six shy of the school record and vaulted the Devils into the national rankings.
Fergus had taken the reins from longtime LCC coach, and also his uncle, Kelly Smith. Fergus spent five years with the program as an assistant from 2000-05 before stints at Tacoma Community College and Seattle University.
Fergus joins a staff headed by Lindsay Meggs, who is 75-90 since taking over in 2009. More than success on the field, it was Fergus’ ability to pull in talent from all over the region that caught the eye of the Husky head man.
“As I talked to people who have been (in this area) longer than I have and asked them, ‘Who are some of the up-and-comers that can recruit this area like no other, whose ties are legitimate and can help us get to the College World Series?’ His name came up almost every time,” Meggs said.
Lower Columbia isn’t scrambling to find a replacement, LCC athletic director Kirc Roland said, though fall season is less than a month away.
This isn’t the program’s first coaching search, and the cupboard of returning talent is far from bare.
“If we were an up-and-coming program, maybe I’d be deeply worried. But the LC tradition is here,” Roland said. “... We’re gonna sit back and discuss all options and not be in a big hurry to do it.”
Roland said he does not blame Fergus for moving on to a conference that produced two of the semifinalists in this year’s College World Series.
“I’m totally understanding of this,” Roland said. “I’m proud of him. I think the happiness for him even overshadows the disappointment of losing such a great coach.”