After Joe Henderson retired as head coach at the end of the 2021 season, Battle softball has a leader for its program.
The Spartans have hired Ashanti Caine as its new softball coach, the school announced Tuesday afternoon.
Battle director of athletics Alex Huck said Caine stood out with her familiarity of the program, having been an assistant coach with the Spartans last year.
Huck said he interviewed four finalists for the position, with candidates being both internal and external. Huck said he chose Caine as her priorities and vision for the program were clear throughout the interview process.
"We knew exactly what coach Caine is about," Huck said. "She's super excited to continue the legacy that coach Henderson started."
Caine has been a physical education and health teacher at Battle High School for the last five years. Prior to coaching softball, Caine was the head volleyball coach before moving on to being an assistant softball coach.
Ashanti taught in the Boonville School District before moving to Columbia, teaching and coaching at Tina Avalon High School. Caine played college softball at Central Methodist University.
That career playing softball has given Caine the passion that stood out to Battle through the interview process.
"She's had a lot of good and valuable experience in previous locations," Huck said. "She's super excited to get the ball rolling for this fall."
Last season, Battle tied for its best season in program history with an 18-11 record, which was the same as the Spartans' record in 2015. Battle had its highest runs per game average in 2021, scoring an average of 6.5 runs.
The change for Caine starts right away, as the Spartans have to find a way to fill the shoes of graduating seniors Brooke Nutter and Brooklynn Spillman.
However, that's where Huck said Caine wants to start.
"She's not only looking to increase the level of competitiveness within the program, but is also passionate about increasing the numbers," Huck said.
With her goals in mind, Huck said Caine will also approach the job with a balance in mind, too.
"She's all about the kids," he said. "She wants to provide the best experience for them possible, one that's going to be fun but at a competitive level. Continue the environment of holding our kids accountable both on the playing field and in the classroom."
Chris Kwiecinski is the sports editor for the Columbia Daily Tribune, overseeing University of Missouri and Boone County sports coverage. Follow him on Twitter @OchoK_ and contact him at CKwiecinsk@gannett.com or 435-414-3261.
This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Battle High School hires new softball coach, Ashanti Caine