Van Alstyne announces volleyball, softball coaching changes

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat

The Van Alstyne ISD announced a pair of head coaching changes in the girls athletic department for the upcoming school year.

Kelly Hutchinson has been hired to lead the volleyball program while Jeni Voris was elevated from an assistant role to be in charge of softball.

Hutchinson replaces Veronica Mendez, who is now the girls athletic coordinator and volleyball coach at Little Elm.

Mendez led the Lady Panthers for the previous four seasons, making the playoffs each time and totaling a 104-37 record.

Van Alstyne had the best season in program history when it finished as the Class 3A state runner-up in 2019 with a 37-5 record and a loss to Vanderbilt Industrial in the title match.

It was the second time the Lady Panthers made the state tourney and the first since 1997.

This past fall Van Alstyne moved up to Class 4A in the latest University Interscholastic League realignment and went 14-10 overall and fourth in District 9-4A. The Lady Panthers lost to state semifinalist Kennedale in the bi-district round.

VA also made the region quarterfinals in 2018 when it went 33-7 and lost to eventual state champion Callisburg in that third-round match.

In 2017, the Lady Panthers were beaten in the first round of the playoffs by Callisburg, which was on its way to a state runner-up finish, and had a 20-15 record.

Hutchinson was an assistant at Midlothian and this past season the team went 21-4 and reached the Class 5A Region II semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Lovejoy.

It was the second straight season the program advanced to the region semifinals.

Voris has been a softball assistant for the Lady Panthers the past four years in addition to being the Middle School Girls Athletic Coordinator.

Jason Brogdon stepped down after eight seasons as the head softball coach but will remain at Van Alstyne. He will continue to serve as the bass fishing team coach and increase his time with the district’s outdoors and adventure class, which includes an archery team and is planning on adding a skeet shooting squad for the upcoming school year.

Brogdon leaves after one of the most successful seasons in program history despite the move up to Class 4A. Van Alstyne went 22-8, got the second seed in 9-4A after winning a pair of tie-breaker games and made the 4A Region II semifinals before losing to eventual state runner-up Bullard.

It was the program’s first appearance in the fourth round since 1998 and the Lady Panthers were trying to tie the 1994 team with the best playoff appearance had they advanced to the region final.

Van Alstyne also made it past the area round for the first time since 2016.

That 2016 group won the program’s first playoff game since 2002 to reach the second round.

Van Alstyne made the postseason five times in seven tries under Brogdon, including three straight from 2014-16 and again in 2019, when VA ended 14-15 with a bi-district loss against Gunter.

The Lady Panthers were 6-9 and about to start district play when their season was stopped in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.