By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
ENGLEWOOD — Fresh off the school’s first state semifinal appearance, Casey Hanrahan is stepping down as Lemon Bay’s baseball coach after four seasons on the job.
Lemon Bay athletic director Ryan Lavallee announced the decision Monday afternoon and said that alumni Dan Flaherty will replace Hanrahan, who will remain on staff as an assistant coach.
Hanrahan says he made the decision to focus more on his family and career. He works as a field manager for Pulte Homes and also has a one-year-old daughter.
“Really what it came down to was right now with my new job I don’t have the ability to give it 110 percent, and I think the players deserve somebody that has the time to put in to help the program move in the right direction,” Hanrahan said. “I knew it would be tough. I didn’t know my job would be this demanding but I’m happy that we found somebody that was more qualified than myself to be the head baseball coach and I think it’s a move in the right direction.”
Hanrahan led the Manta Rays to their first state semifinal berth this season before losing to Bishop Moore. Lemon Bay won back-to-back district titles under Hanrahan and went 17-10 in his final season.
It was the best season in school history and Flaherty knows he has big shoes to fill.
But he says that excites him.
“I think we’ve got a lot of kids returning that are special,” Flaherty said. “I think the excitement that’s kind of surrounded the program and the school right now is awesome. I’m excited to keep that alive and keep that going. The community just rallied around this team and just packed that place out as they made that run to the playoffs. I want to keep that excitement going and that’s what I’m most excited about.”
Flaherty is very familiar with the program, graduating from Lemon Bay in 2000 before serving as an assistant coach in 2006. He actually coached Hanrahan during his senior season at Lemon Bay.
“He’s going to be tough. He has the right idea of how players should act and how baseball should be played so it’ll be good for the community and everybody involved,” Hanrahan said. “I have 100 percent faith in him and his knowledge of the game and his ability to lead this program because I learned from him. He was one of my coaches.”
As a student at Lemon Bay, Flaherty played under former coach Cary Humphrey and led the Manta Rays to a district title and regional final berth in 2000. Flaherty was one of the better players to come through the program, setting school records for most home runs in a season as well as runs scored.
After graduating from Lemon Bay, Flaherty played college ball at Florida A&M from 2003-2005 before signing a free agent contract with the Cincinnati Reds organization in 2006. While with the Reds, Flaherty also served as an assistant coach for Lemon Bay.
Flaherty’s head coaching experiences dates back to earlier this decade, when he took over the Charlotte program from 2010 to 2014.
Flaherty will be a teacher at Lemon Bay in addition to coaching the baseball team. He has a wife, Tanya, and 3 sons, Logan, Caleb and Dylan.
“When I stepped away from Charlotte, my wife and I had just had our third son and my other two boys were still pretty young so I had a house full of boys that were six and under basically and I just needed some time to spend with them,” Flaherty said. “That was three years ago now, my boys have gotten older and this opportunity to come back and coach at Lemon Bay was just an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I love coaching, I wanted to get back into it and this is just a perfect fit and opportunity to come back home and get going again.”