ALBEMARLE — Prepping for their second season after an inaugural campaign that wrapped up in July, the Uwharrie Wampus Cats will return to Albemarle’s Don Montgomery Park next May with a new head coach.
Stanly County’s wood-bat collegiate baseball team has announced that Josh Kent, 26, will take over as the Wampus Cats’ new skipper.
Previous coach Houston Wright led Uwharrie to an 18-17 winning record in the team’s first season where over 6,000 fans attended home games.
“I am super excited for the opportunity to get my first summer underway as the head coach of the Wampus Cats,” Kent said in a Nov. 29 press release. “I can’t wait to represent the city of Albemarle and give the Albemarle area a great season to look forward to. We are going to have an amazing group of guys that the fans are going to love.”
With a new coaching opportunity arriving, Kent has said he’s looking forward to helping the Wampus Cats improve as a team and as individual players.
“I want our players to get better every day, compete and have fun. I want to give players the opportunity to become leaders on our team so they can go back to their schools in the fall ready to add to their programs.”
Kent spent the 2023 baseball season as a graduate assistant coach at Carolina University in Winston-Salem. Prior to beginning his coaching tenure, he played as a second and third baseman at the NCAA Division II level before joining the Carolina University Bruins as a shortstop.
In his senior season with the Bruins, he hit a dozen home runs and batted .359 as his team finished second in the nation at the Division I level within the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA).
Kent also has baseball experience playing with the Galion Graders of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League, a National Alliance of College Summer Baseball affiliate.
Wampus Cats co-owner and president Greg Sullivan said he’s appreciative of Wright’s performance as Uwharrie’s first head coach and that he’s excited for another year of potential growth as Kent takes the helm.
“Coach Wright did a great job for us building a competitive roster in Year 1 this past summer and got talented, hard-working players who bought into what we’re doing in Albemarle,” Sullivan stated in a team press release. “We expect to have some returners and have also begun adding some exciting new players to the mix. We’re excited to see how Coach Kent can build on the work we’ve started here as we get set to bring in a challenging slate of new opponents this year.”
Playing independently of a league in 2023, the Cats experienced the normal ups and downs of a young team in its first season but finished strong with 10-3 home win over the Winston-Salem-based Carolina Disco Turkeys (a team also owned by Sullivan), a 7-2 home win over the Race City Bootleggers and a 5-2 road win over the Disco Turkeys.
The Cats impressed in their budding rivalry with the Disco Turkeys, winning six of 11 matchups against the more-experienced club this past summer.