By Joseph W. Gex, II
Bay St. Louis native Correy Gex, the third son of the late Mr. & Mrs. Joseph W. Gex, Sr., was recently named 'Coach of the Year' by The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tennessee, after leading St. Benedict at Auburndale's high school softball team to a third place finish in the Tennessee state tournament. St. Benedict plays in the largest private school division in Tennessee.
This past spring completed Gex's first full year at the helm of the program. During the spring of 2018, he took over after the school relieved the previous head coach of her duties with a 4-9 record.
Once Gex took over and adjusted the lineup and approach of the team, St. Benedict went 12-3 en route to a fourth place finish in the double-elimination state tournament in 2018.
Gex commented, "This is a humbling honor that is directly related to the girls and their stellar play on the field. The prior year when I took over halfway through the season, it was a weird situation. The girls worked extremely hard to get through that. This year they kept their focus through a difficult schedule that saw us play top quality teams throughout the region and out of state. It helped us get ready for the playoffs. I was extremely proud of the girls and all they accomplished this year."
In 2019, St. Benedict went 18-11, won the West Division, the West Region and placed third in the Tennessee state tournament after falling to Girls Preperatory School (GPS) of Chattanooga 3-2. In one-plus seasons of coaching, Gex has a record of 30-14 with two top-five finishes. Many of the teams that St. Bendict played this year include teams from Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Tennessee. The teams from Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi that St. Benedict played this year were from those state's highest classification and finished in the top three in their class.
Gex also had some outstanding players on his squad that were rewarded for their play on the diamond following the season.
He had five players that were named to the All-Division and All-Region teams including senior EC Taylor, sophomore Jessi Smith, sophomore Josie Gex, sophomore Lexie Griffin, and freshman Neely Taylor. The All-State team has not been released.
EC Taylor was a preseason MaxPreps second team All-American and was recently named a postseason Premier Girls Fastpitch All-American. Taylor has a lifetime average of .586 at St. Benedict and is a Florida signee.
Josie Gex is Gex's oldest daughter and was a sophomore pitcher this past spring. She has thrown every pitch for the last two seasons for St. Benedict and hit .405 with 23 doubles this past spring.
While Gex has coached the last two seasons for St. Benedict, he is not a full-time faculty member at the school. He is Vice-President of Operations and Business Development for Kpower Global Logistics.
Gex added, "Not being a full-time faculty member, my boss allows me the time in the spring to coach the softball team. I am extremely fortunate to be granted this special time with not just the team but my daughters, as well. Many of the girls on the team, I have coached during the summer since they were eight or nine years old."
Now that summer has arrived, Gex is back on the field with the majority of his team in travel ball. Gex continued, "Josie and her teammates have played in Memphis, Olive Branch and Chattanooga so far this summer. Chattanooga is the mecca of fastpitch softball in the Tennessee for both public and private schools. There is a tremendous amount of talent in that area. If teams expect to get a state title, it will have to go through a team from Chattanooga. The girls will soon head to Denver soon for a 16-game schedule that will allow them to play in front of more than 130 college coaches. After that, they head to Atlanta for a tournament. We will finish our summer in Gulfport at the newly formed National Fastpitch Association national tournament July 15 through July 20."
Josie and her team will begin their junior year in August and after September 1st college coaches will be allowed to contact them.
Josie has been a starter for two years at St. Benedict. She was the Region MVP her freshman year. She has maintained a weighted 4.2 GPA while being inducted into the Latin and English National Honor Societies.
Gex is not new to athletics as he was a three-year starter for the football and baseball teams at Saint Stanislaus College where he graduated in 1996. Following SSC, he signed to play football for the University of Mississippi where he was a teammate of current Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke.
While there he was introduced to the former Amanda Fine who was the star pitcher for the Ole Miss Lady Rebel softball team.
Amanda was a national recruit out of Brentwood High School in Nashville and threw the very first pitch in the history of the Ole Miss Lady Rebel softball program in the spring of 1997. She remains in the top five of the majority of career pitching categories at Ole Miss.
Following his four years of football at Ole Miss, Gex and Fine married and have remained in the Germantown area since. They both played competitive fastpitch softball following college for several years. Gex played on two world championship teams during that time.
Gex returns six of his starting nine from this past spring. He ended, "I fully expect our girls to be ready to pick up where we left off. We lose three seniors that were huge pieces of our team. However, we have some talent moving up from the junior varsity and middle school teams. We are hoping to get past GPS and get a shot at Baylor of Chattanooga. Baylor seems to be in it every year. They are a coed boarding school with talent from several states. We will get some help pitching coming up from the middle school which should allow Josie an opportunity to be a little better at the plate on offense and not have to throw every pitch."
Moving up to the varsity will be Ginny Gex, Correy and Amanda's middle daughter, who is a left-handed pitcher. There is a caboose in the Gex family of girls and her name is Joanna. And, her time is coming soon enough.
Gex will begin his second full season at the helm of the diamond program at St. Benedict in January. St. Benedict has advanced to the state playoffs 24 consecutive years in softball but have never won a state title. It is the longest such streak in the state of Tennessee.
In half a season, Gex led St. Benedict to a fourth place finish. In a full season, he led them to a third place finish. With a second full season at the reins and six of nine starters returning, could the first state title in program history be within grasp? The track record is there, now it is all about making the pitch.