SYRACUSE — A familiar face will return to the dugout for the Wawasee softball team this spring. Mike Barger was approved as the next head softball coach for the Warriors at Tuesday night’s school board meeting following a recommendation from athletic director Cory Schutz.
“To be honest, it was just time to come home,” stated Barger. “Once my kids started school here, Addison started at the elementary this year, I decided it was time for me to closer to home. This job gave me that opportunity. This is where my foundation is at. I’m excited about this chance. I’ve got some big shoes to fill, but I’m ready to put those shoes on.”
Barger, a 2001 graduate of Warsaw Community High School, has plenty of Wawasee ties. He’s called Syracuse his home for the past eight years and served as an assistant coach at Wawasee High School for softball, baseball and football before leaving to take on his first head coaching role.
The past two seasons Barger has served as the head coach for West Noble’s softball program. He took over a 3-20 team in 2015 and improved the team to six wins in his first season. Last season the Chargers were eliminated from the sectional by Wawasee.
Barger takes over a Warrior squad that has won back-to-back Northern Lakes Conference titles and posted a 22-6 record last season. Wawasee hit .361 as a team and had a .934 OPS, for those interested in the sabermetrics side of Barger’s new team.
Wawasee also boasts several of the conference’s best returning players in Meghan Fretz, Amber Lemberg, Hannah Haines, Ale Brito, Kayla White and Madie Wilson.
“I know I’m getting a good team, my job is to make them great,” said Barger. “They were a team of standouts, I want to take them to an even higher level. That’s not just at the high school level either. I want us to build this program from the youth programs all the way up through the varsity team.
“This upcoming summer I want everybody playing. 14 and under, high school, everyone. They’re going to be committed and understand that what we’re after is putting on a ring.”
Barger lives in Syracuse with his wife, Jessica, a 2003 Wawasee graduate, his daughter, Addison and son, Carter.