RHS looks to proven winner to take over softball program

New Ruston High School softball coach Lauren Garvie (right) is pictured with one of the athletes she helped coach during her four-year tenure at Carthage High School in Texas.

By T. Scott Boatright

After the Ruston softball team went 2-22 in 2022 with no district wins, RHS Athletics Director Jerrod Baugh wanted to bring in a hungry young coach from a proven program to turn things around for the Lady Bearcats.

And he found his coach in Carthage, Texas, where Lauren Garvie was serving as an assistant coach.

“I’m very excited. This is what I’ve been working toward for years now since I entered coaching,” Garvie said. “When I was a player, I decided that I wanted to be a head coach one day. I wanted to run my own softball program.”

Baugh said that while he wasn’t necessarily looking toward Texas to find a softball coach, he’s more than pleased about the way things turned out.

“She and her husband are moving to the area and she was looking at schools — I think West Monroe tried to hire her,” Baugh said about Garvie. “When I was coaching in Gladewater, Texas, I coached in the same district as Carthage and knew it was a strong program. They had won a lot of softball games.

“I’d love to say I went there looking for a coach, but Lauren really just kind of fell into our laps. I think she’s a good young coach, and I know she’s hungry. I think she’s going to be really good for our kids, and that’s the most important thing.”

A native of Sugarland, Texas, who went on to play at East Texas Baptist University, Garvie is a five-year coaching veteran that spent the last four seasons as an assistant at Carthage High School.

“I went to East Texas to play softball but suffered a pretty bad injury. I broke my back and dislocated my hip,” Garvie said. “So my career was cut short. I decided to be bi-vocational in ministry and worked in a youth ministry in the area.”

Moving on to coaching after graduating from East Texas Baptist, Garvie played a key role this past season in helping lead Carthage to a 21-12-1 record, helping guide the Bulldogs to a two-game series sweep in the opening round of the playoffs before falling to eventual Texas Class IV state champion Lake Belton in the second round.

“I have a lot of ideas and a lot of goals for the Ruston softball program,” Garvie said. “I was very lucky in Carthage where my head coach let me take on a lot of responsibilities, more than most head coaches usually give their assistants. And I got to see some girls, seniors this past season who were my freshmen my first year in Carthage buy into my plan. One day when my shortstop made a great play and spun around and looked at me in the dugout and pointed at me, I knew that I had made an impact.

“Over the years I saw a lot of grit in my girls and a lot of excitement about being on the field. I kept telling our defense they were going to practice with purpose and play with passion, that every day they stepped on the field it was an honor.”

That’s something she plans on bringing to the Lady Bearcats.

“I want the Ruston girls to know the honor it is to be on the team, because it’s way more than just a game,” Garvie said. “It’s something that can teach them how to be young ladies. I want to see a little bit of that and a little bit of grit and heart that the girls at Carthage showed.

“When you put on a Carthage uniform there’s an expectation to be great. And that kind of expectation has absolutely just overflowed in me. I already had that expectation when I came to Carthage, but coaching there made it that much stronger and that’s what I’m going to bring to my team in Ruston.”

Garvie said her coaching style starts with the basics with a little psychology thrown in.

“I am huge about fundamentals,” she said. “I want things done in a very specific way, but at the same time you have to know your players. A mentor told me early on that a coach has to have a pulse on every player. Different players may have to be handled differently, and that’s OK. You might need to get up in the face of one player to reach her while you may have to pull another player off to the side and say, ‘Let me show you step by step about what I need from you.’ 

“That’s my plan. Yes, I’ll tailor things to the players I have, but I have a goal and a mindset on things like how we’re going to play our shifts and our cuts. How we’re going to swing, even.”

Garvie said she won’t set any kind of timetable for success without her team being part of it.

“I haven’t gotten to be on the field with the girls yet,” Garvie said. “I have a mindset of where I’d like to be by my first year and my second year. But when I get to know my girls, we’ll have a team meeting and set a team goal. We’ll tell the upperclassmen, this is where you were, where do you want to take us. Let’s set a team goal right now.

“And then hang that up in the locker room and let the girls touch it every day and feel that, ‘We’re going to get this.’ I want them to buy into where they want to go and who they want to be.”

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