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Jim Wells to lead Northridge baseball


TUSCALOOSA | Jim Wells, who directed the University of Alabama baseball team to three College World Series appearances, has landed a new head coaching job at Northridge High School.

The Tuscaloosa City School Board of Education approved Wells’ hiring during its Tuesday meeting. Wells was hired as a "volunteer head baseball coach" for the 2013-2014 school year.

Efforts to reach Wells by phone were unsuccessful, but David Akins, Northridge’s director of athletics, was pleased with the hiring.

"We are absolutely ecstatic for Coach Wells to have the opportunity to be working with our young kids," Akins said. "The knowledge he brings to the table is second to none. We’re very excited about it.

"He wanted to come back to Tuscaloosa and work, and it just made good sense for us to give him that opportunity if he wanted it. We feel like we have a very good baseball team coming back, and we’re hoping he will be the key to push us over the top and get us to the level where we need to be."

Wells, 58, replaces Travis Garner, whose teams won at least 20 games for five straight years and an area title in 2012. Wells was a volunteer pitching coach on Garner’s staff last season.

Garner was an Alabama outfielder on Wells’ 2002 and 2003 teams. Alabama won SEC Tournament championships both years. Garner left Northridge to become the head baseball coach at Starkville High School in Mississippi.

Akins said he umpired some Alabama games when Wells was the head coach.

"I’ve known him for years," Akins said. "I’ve watched him work. His daughter and my daughter were good friends growing up. I’ve had the opportunity to develop a very good relationship with Coach Wells. We’re getting a class act and a person of the utmost standards as a role model."

Wells retired in 2009 after compiling a 625-322 record in 15 seasons at Alabama. In recent years he was an assistant coach at a high school in Louisiana and at a junior college in Mississippi.

A former LSU assistant and head coach at Northwestern State, Wells was hired as Alabama’s coach in 1994. His first Crimson Tide team won the 1995 SEC Western Division Tournament and advanced to an NCAA regional at Clemson.

His 1996 team won the SEC Tournament championship. Alabama claimed an NCAA regional crown in Tuscaloosa and went to Omaha, Neb., to play in the College World Series for the first time since 1983. Alabama returned to Omaha in 1997 and finished second to national champion LSU. The Crimson Tide went back to Omaha in 1999.

Wells was named the SEC Coach of the Year as his teams tied for the regular-season titles in 1996 and 2006. Alabama won SEC Tournament championships in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2002 and 2003. He coached the Crimson Tide to 12 NCAA regionals, and his teams won titles in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2006. His 1999 and 2006 teams appeared in NCAA Super Regionals in Tuscalooosa.

Wells compiled a record of 817-411 in 20 seasons as a Division I coach.

 

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.