North DeSoto hires national-champion softball coach
DeSoto Parish superintendent Clay Corley didn’t wait long to find a replacement for retiring North DeSoto softball coach Lori McFerren.
Corley announced on Friday that one of the most decorated coaches in the state will take over the Lady Griffins’ program. Ouachita head coach Tim Whitman has made the decision to make the move to Stonewall.
Whitman coached Pineville High to three state titles, Louisiana College to an NCAA Division III national title and Ouachita High School to a pair of LHSAA Class 5A state crowns.
“I wasn’t looking to leave Ouachita because they’ve been very good to me there,” Whitman told The Times. “But having the opportunity to have my entire family in the same school complex was very appealing. North DeSoto is one of the few places where elementary through high school are together — and that’s especially unusual for a school that size.”
McFerren was glowing about the thought of the program she built in 25 years under the direction of the veteran coach.
“I am very excited for the future of North DeSoto softball,” McFerren said. “I’ve always admired Tim as a coach. I can’t wait to watch the Lady Griffins under his realm. It’s an exciting time at NDHS.”
Whitman spent nine seasons at Pineville where he won three LHSAA state titles before moving on to Louisiana College and building that program into a national D-III power. He coached the Lady ‘Cats to the 2003 World Series crown and the team was third in 2008.
He guided the Lady Lions to the 2018 state title and his wife, Ashleigh, is a former Oak Grove and LC standout. She will join him as an assistant coach for the first time in their careers.
“It’s a pay raise for us at North DeSoto, but that really wasn’t a factor,” Whitman said. “When I’m involved in softball, I do it at 110 percent. This will be the first time I’ll be able to do that and still be close to my family. Plus, we can find a place close to the school to live. North DeSoto is a big school in a small-town atmosphere.”
Whitman inherits a program that won three consecutive state titles under McFerren and the Lady Griffins advanced to the LHSAA Class 4A state semifinals two weeks ago. But 10 seniors departed the program with McFerren.
“We’ll only have 14 kids total in the program, including incoming freshman, so I joked the other day that we’ll need a bunch of bubble wrap to make sure none of them get hurt,” Whitman said. “This softball has a great tradition thanks to the players and Lori, and it has great facilities. We’re already talking about adding to that.”
Whitman was a quarterback at Grant High School where he also played basketball with Northwood softball coach Greg Swearengin.
"Tim is the most competitive person I've ever been around," Swearengin said. We coached against each other when I was at Tioga and he was at Pineville and I was lucky to beat him twice in district. He's a heckuva coach."
Whitman said his main goal is fairly simple.
“I want to reach out to the elementary and middle schools to put a system in place that will allow us to continue winning consistently like Lori has done,” he said.