Retiring Columbia coach Steve Dennis makes history with 400th win

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Longtime Columbia High School baseball coach Steve Dennis could hardly contain his emotions as he reflected on his coaching career after his last home game at Columbia on April 22.

“It’s been very rewarding,” Dennis said.

Columbia (25-5) defeated Decatur 9-5 in Dennis’ last game, improving Dennis’ overall record to 401-325-5 in his 29-year tenure as head coach of the Columbia Eagles baseball team. Dennis reached the historic 400-win mark on April 19 after Columbia defeated region rival Arabia Mountain 7-5.

Dennis, a Georgia Dugout Club hall of famer, is now second all-time in wins in DeKalb County behind hall of famer and retired coach Marvin Pruitt (447-252). Dennis said reaching 400 wins felt good, but said he would trade it for a region championship.

“When I challenged [the players] at the beginning of the year, I never in my right mind figured we’d get [25] wins in a regular high school season,” Dennis said. “They have done outstanding; all of the credit goes to them.”

Arabia Mountain won Region 5-AAAAA after beating Columbia 3-2 on April 20. Columbia will begin the Class AAAAA state playoffs on the road at East Paulding as the no. 3 seed. This is Columbia’s fifth appearance (1994, 2003, 2013, 2014 and 2017) in the playoffs under Dennis. The team will try to win Dennis’ and Columbia’s first baseball title.

Dennis said his team has what it takes to go deep in the playoffs.

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“If we do what we’re capable of doing—swing the bats, good pitching and play defense like we have the last two weeks—it would give us a good opportunity,” he said. “Our pitching staff has been strong. If they come out and have good games [then] good things can happen for us.”

The Eagles’ pitching staff ended the regular season with a 1.98 ERA. Columbia also did well on offense, posting a .402 batting average, a .497 on base percentage and 210 stolen bases.

“They swung the bats very well. I’m very proud of them,” Dennis said. “They set their mind at the beginning of the year to accomplish certain goals and they’ve done nothing else but reach [them].”

During Dennis’ 29-year career, the Eagles had 15 winning seasons. He credited his coaching staff throughout the years for the sustained success at Columbia.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with a lot good men,” he said. “My whole coaching staff all played for me. Coach [Brandon] Carter has been a god-send for the last 12 years since he’s been my assistant coach. A lot of our success [is due to] him, especially this year with my injury. He stepped up, took the reins and has done an outstanding job.”

Dennis suffered an injury to his right knee cap and will have surgery this summer to repair it.

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