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Coming Home:  Salk Baseball Alumni Return to Lead the Next Generation



When you look at the coaches on the USC Salkehatchie baseball field this season, they all have one thing in common.  They’ve been here before. Head Coach Jeremy Joye and assistant coaches LeBon Joye, Frank Cannon and Jackson Ridgeway have all spent time on the Salkehatchie baseball field as players.  Now they've all returned home to lead the next generation of Salkehatchie baseball players.


The amount of baseball knowledge I’ve got in my dugout now is simply amazing,” Jeremy Joye said.  “I have a young coach who is coming into his own and really discovering himself as a coach and leader, thriving to soak up as much knowledge as he can. Then I have two seasoned veterans with more years of experience coaching than I have had on this earth…who possess a sincere passion for the game. I look around at any point during practice or games, and I don’t have to worry about what is going on in the batting cage or the bullpen, anywhere that I am not. I know the players are in good hands and I know they are being taught the game the right way. But more importantly, I know that they are being coached hard and are developing in the way that they should. This is a special staff this year. The best part about it though, is that you have four guys that can honestly relate to playing here, but all at different times. Dad and Coach Cannon played for Jess Dannelly, I played under Joe Baxter, and Ridgeway played under me. You can’t say that we just love Salkehatchie because of who we played for. While that may be true, it’s more than that. It’s USC Salkehatchie that called us all back.”


LeBon Joye:

After playing at USC Salkehatchie under Jess Dannelly, LeBon Joye went on to play at Austin Peay University in Clarksville, TN.  That move would be a pivotal one in relation to this dynamic, as it was here that Joe Baxter was an assistant coach and Baxter would later recruit Jeremy Joye while serving as the head coach at USC Salkehatchie. Following his time APSU, LeBon Joye moved to Goose Creek, SC to take a job as a recreation director for the city of Goose Creek. During this time, he also served as a volunteer assistant coach at Goose Creek High School, off and on. He would later move on to take a county recreation director position in Manning, SC, shortly after which he took on an additional role of associate scout in the Atlanta Braves organization.


“Dad has always been right there supporting me throughout my playing and coaching career. He’s been tough on me at times, but it’s always been when I needed it. I know he thought I was crazy at first, but he was right by my side still. Four days before my debut (our annual season opener with Walters State Community College), he called to tell me he and my mom would be there an asked me if I needed anything,” states Jeremy Joye. “Without hesitation, I just said ‘I could really use a bench coach’ and the rest is history. His experience and guidance in the dugout and even via phone calls after games he has had to miss are something I cherish. And I’m not only very grateful, but honored, to have him on my staff.”


Frank Cannon:

Frank Cannon served a number of roles under Jess Dannelly—Right-handed pitcher, utility player, and even DJ (running sound and handling PA responsibilities) on days he was not playing. Following his playing career, Cannon began working at the Savannah River Site and coached a couple of seasons at Wade Hampton High School (Varnville, SC) but stepped away from coaching to raise a family. However, in 1999, he returned to the game as a pitching coach at Wade Hampton High School where he remained until accepting a role under fellow Salkehatchie alum Will Gee at Barnwell High School. He served as the pitching coach at Barnwell High for the 2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons. In March 2023, Cannon retired from SRS and was enjoying a full season of deer hunting in the late fall of that year when he received a call from coach Jeremy Joye.


“It’s funny how big a role timing has played in all of this,” said Joye. “Coach Cannon had happened to be talking with one of my current players (a former Wade Hampton player 3B/RHP) about how things were going at Salk. The young man came to me the following day and informed me of the conversation, and it was kind of a no brainer. We needed an experienced pitching coach, and I had watched how he [Cannon] handled Barnwell’s pitching staff. Fortunately, I was able to persuade him to join our staff. I was a little nervous about bringing someone new in at the start of the spring semester rather than the start of the school year, but the pitchers and Coach Cannon both handled it phenomenally. It’s been really great to see him learning them and watching them learn and adapt to his coaching style. I’m the guy that can tell you if you’re throwing high to change your focus point. He can not only tell you why, but also how to correct it. He sees what I don’t, and far more.”


Jeremy Joye:

Joye, like his father played at USC Salkehatchie and also played for Joe Baxter. He combined both experiences though, playing for Baxter during his tenure as head coach at USC Salkehatchie. Following his playing career at Salkehatchie, Joye returned home to take classes at USC Sumter and began helping out with Manning High School’s varsity baseball team. He worked as a volunteer assistant with varsity for the 2004 and 2005 seasons and served as the head junior varsity coach in 2006. In the summer of 2006, Joye began coaching with the Diamond Devils travel ball organization with his former coach, John Rhodes, for whom he had played in the summer of 2000. It was during this summer, that Joye learned of USC Sumter’s plans to start a baseball program. Through several connections made via Diamond Devils, Joye began working as a volunteer assistant at USC Sumter, while simultaneously working with campus grounds/maintenance to earn a paycheck.


“USC Sumter was, and still is, in the same region as Salk. My very first season at Sumter, we played our series with Salkehatchie in Allendale, and it was like coming home after being away for several years. As soon as I stepped off the bus, I knew I wanted to come back. I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to do so as a head coach,” said Joye of his first time returning to the USC Salkehatchie baseball facility.


After spending 4 seasons with USC Sumter, he eagerly accepted an opportunity to work under coach Tim Wallace at Spartanburg Methodist College.


“It was at SMC that I really began to develop and thrive as a coach. Coach Wallace informed me day one that I could do as little or as much as I wanted, understanding that coaches often look to use junior college to get to the next level as well.  I already knew what I wanted, though, and Coach Wallace began giving me more and more responsibilities as time passed. That was huge for my career. Not to mention, I got to know Coach Bubba Dorman (USC Salkehatchie head baseball coach from the 2006-2019 seasons) and discuss USC Salkehatchie quite frequently, as he and Coach Wallace are good friends.”


 In May of 2019, Coach Dorman announced that he was resigning as head coach. Joye took over the reins in June of that same year.


“About two weeks after I was officially hired, I was mowing the field and looked up to see Coach Dorman walking my way with a binder. It was years of practice plans and notes that he was passing along to me,” Joye said.


Jackson Ridgeway:

Catcher/First Baseman Jackson Ridgeway played at USC Salkehatchie under Coach Jeremy Joye. Following his playing career, Ridgeway, like Joye, returned to his former high school (Barnwell High School) as an assistant coach.


“I had been trying for a couple of years to convince Jackson to return to Salk as a coach, as he has a very likeable personality and always displayed a thorough understanding of my philosophy, as well as my coaching style. It was just never the right time for him,” said Joye (Jeremy). The stars finally aligned, though, and Ridgeway was able to join the staff in the late summer of 2023.


“I think it actually worked out better this way,” added Joye. ”Some of the players he would have been coaching before now were former teammates and it’s really difficult to establish yourself as a coach among guys who previously related to you as a player/teammate. I’m very grateful it worked out. He has shown a lot of initiative and has grown quite a bit as a coach in the last several months.”

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