New hometown leadership will be at the helm of the Lexington County Blowfish next summer.
The team announced Thursday the hiring of Lexington native Matt Padgett as head coach.
The current Ben Lippen head baseball coach replaces Marshall McDonald, who went 32-65 in two seasons with the Blowfish. This past season’s 15-34 mark was the worst record in the Coastal Plain League and the team’s worst showing since moving from Columbia in 2015.
“I’m really excited to coach the Lexington County Blowfish,” Padgett stated. “I take pride in Lexington baseball. I lived less than a mile from ballpark road growing up. Playing baseball at Lexington High under Tommy Williams, he taught me how to respect the game and playing right here in Lexington is where it all started for me.”
“We’re excited to have someone who grew up in Lexington leading our home team,” Blowfish general manager Theo Bacot said. “His experience in the coaching profession speaks for itself, and we’re looking forward to watching Matt lead our team back to the Pettit Cup Playoffs.”
“In the conversations we’ve had, I can see how good of a person Matt is, and I know that his character, leadership, and passion to win will permeate our locker room in 2020.”
Padgett earned All-State honors in both baseball and football at Lexington High School. After graduating in 1996, he attended Clemson University and player under then-head coach Jack Leggett and assistant coach Tim Corbin, now the head coach of College World Series champion Vanderbilt.
“I still have a close relationship with Tim Corbin,” Padgett said. “I still lean on him. He taught me his work ethic and how important the game of baseball is.”
“(While at Clemson) Coach Leggett instilled the details while I was at Clemson, how to do the little things the right way inside the white lines.”
In Padgett’s final season with the Tigers, Padgett collected 58 RBI with 14 home runs while tallying a .376 batting average. He was named First Team All-ACC in his final season as well.
Padgett was selected in the fifth round of the Amatuer Draft by the Florida Marlins in 1998. In 2004, for AAA-Albuquerque, he hit 24 home runs and tallied 93 RBI in what would be his best season in the minor leagues.
During his playing career, Padgett also played winter ball in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela. At the time the Blowfish were holding its coaching search, he was coaching at Ben Lippen High School where he replaced former Lexington County head coach and special team advisor Jonathan Johnson.
“A TRUE PROFESSIONAL”
“We reached out to former Blowfish head coach Jonathan Johnson,” Blowfish co-owner Bill Shanahan stated. “Jonathan is a special advisor for the team and he recommended we talk to Matt Padgett. When the winningest coach in Blowfish history puts his support behind someone, we take notice.
“After talking with Matt extensively, we truly believe he will bring a winning mindset to our team, both on and off the field. Both Vicki and I were very impressed not only his tremendous baseball background but as local owners, adding a homegrown Lexington County Head Coach is truly exciting!”
“Matt Padgett is a true professional,” Johnson said. “His time spent in professional baseball has given him knowledge beyond most coaches’ comprehension. These young men will be fortunate to play under Matt next summer.”
When asked about the quick hire, Shanahan said it was important for Lexington County to get a jump on the early recruiting of players for the 2020 season after making the recent decision on a coaching catch. The team’s goal is to have a winning season in Lexington for the first time since its inaugural season in 2015 and contend for the Pettit Cup.
The Morehead City Marlins repeated as CPL champion after defeating Lexington County’s South Division rival the Macon Bacon.