BASEBALL: Kirkland steps down, Taylor takes over

By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports

Newly hired Port Charlotte High School baseball coach Johnnie Kirkland has stepped down, athletic director Bob Bruglio told The Sun on Thursday.

Kirkland, who took over in June, left the new position due to a string of unfortunate circumstances away from baseball.

The 2017 Pirates will feature Rodney Taylor as its new head coach. Taylor most recently has been the Port Charlotte boys golf coach, but “new” is also a relative term because he has years of experience with Port Charlotte baseball both as a player and coach already.

“It caught me off guard a little bit, but Bruglio talked to me last week, and I (took some time to think about it),” Taylor said. “When I was talking about it, I started getting goosebumps and getting excited, and I thought that was a sign I should take it, so we made the decision as a family.”

Taylor graduated from Port Charlotte in 1985, and was a middle infielder for the Pirates. He was also on Bruglio’s staff back when Bruglio was the head coach..

“It’s something you always want to do, come back to your lama mater, give back to the kids, and help them out the same way people helped you out,” Taylor said.

Taylor will now have to fill out a coaching staff, and names like Brett Wilder and Mike Fullington are being said as possible options. Wilder and Fullington were both on Bruglio’s staff as well, and have since retired, but have considered a return. It’s also possible the existing staff remains in some capacity.

“They’re looking at 60 years of combined experience coaching high school baseball,” Buglio said. “With the knowledge they’re going to bring, and their Rolodex of contacts at colleges, it almost kind of put together a little bit a dream team without expecting to.

“None of them were looking to get out of retirement, but they weren’t going to let the school go down.”

The Port Charlotte baseball season begins in February.

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