When he was hired by Houston Schools in 1998 as the new baseball coach, Brent Hall returned to his alma mater to watch a practice. He said he was greatly disappointed in what he witnessed. The field was in terrible shape and the players didn’t have hats. Several were shirtless.

“It just didn’t look like a baseball environment,” he recalled.

Hall made it his mission to change that. He ordered practice jerseys and hats. And with the help of the community, begin transforming the HHS baseball field from one of the worst in the conference to one of the best.

The attention to details paid off through the years as Hall guided the Tigers into a perennial winner. His body of work reached a milestone last Tuesday as behind junior Connor Wilson’s no-hitter, the Tigers blanked Cabool 1-0 in the Plato Tournament for Hall’s 300th career victory.

To make the moment even more special, that same night – as the Tigers celebrate on the field with their veteran coach – the community passed a $6 million bond issue for a new gymnasium on the Houston Schools campus.

“That was a big night for me, Connor and the town of Houston,” Hall said. “It was a night to celebrate all the way around.”

A 1992 Houston graduate, Hall was a graduate assistant at Cabool High School when he applied for the head baseball coach position at HHS. He received it and was hired as a paraprofessional before a physical education job opened that summer.

Hall immediately turned the Tigers into winners. He began his career with 12 consecutive winning seasons, highlighted a district title in 2007 – the first since he played for Houston – and a second-place finish in the state.

Brent Hall through the years

Coach Brent Hall celebrates as senior Cory Hart slides safely into home to give the Tigers a 10-8 lead in the sixth inning of the 2007 state championship game.

Now in his 21st season leading Houston, Hall’s teams have averaged 14.8 wins per season and won both district and conference titles.

“It represents a lot of hard work over the years by our players,” Hall said when asked what 300 career wins meant to him. “The coach doesn’t win the games. The players go out and win the games. We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of good baseball players come through here.”

Hall passed along the same praise for the HHS baseball complex.

“Everything at the field was built by the hands of people whose kids have played and even people who didn’t have kids playing who helped and volunteered,” he said. “This community has built the field, and that’s something I’m really proud of.”

The Tigers quickly marched Hall toward 300 to start the season. They won their first three games as they moved one win away from the feat. But four straight losses, including a 12-inning defeat that included a state-record 26 strikeouts by three HHS pitchers, left the veteran coach waiting for the milestone.

HHS baseball

HHS baseball coach Brent Hall watches from the sidelines as his team battled in extra innings Thursday against Mountain Grove. Hall had 299 career wins in 21 seasons with the Tigers.

Wilson changed that.

The lanky right-hander threw seven dominant innings as he struck out 14 Cabool batters while walking three and throwing 56 of his 98 pitches for strikes. His no-no was the program’s first since Sterling Jackson accomplished the feat as a freshman in April 2017. It was also the first of two in the same week.

One day after the Tigers rallied to score five times in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat Liberty 10-9 last Thursday, senior Braedin Groff threw three no-hit innings Friday against Stoutland to conclude the Plato Tournament. Houston then made it four wins in a row with a 2-1 home victory – highlighted by 17 strikeouts from Jackson – Monday against Cabool.

Now sitting on 303 career wins, Hall said he has no plans for an end to his career. He said he is enjoying every moment with the program he turned from a disappointment into one he is proud to lead.

“I’m not very good at doing anything else,” Hall said. “I’m a ball coach, and I want to coach as long as I can. Every time I put on that uniform I feel like a kid.”

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