Gunter’s Hellman has interim tag removed after semifinal berth

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Gunter's Daryl Hellman has been named the program's head coach after leading the Tigers to the state semifinals.

Gunter has named Daryl Hellman as its head baseball coach after he took over on an interim basis during the final week of the regular season and guided the Tigers to their best season in 20 years with an appearance in the state semifinals.

“I am so thankful for this opportunity and feel undeservedly blessed,” he said. “It has been a privilege to watch these boys succeed these last few weeks and I can’t wait for what is to come.”

Hellman replaces Kerry Clement, who resigned before Gunter’s final three District 11-3A contests, after spending the previous three years serving as an assistant for baseball, football and basketball.

Gunter went 14-4 after Hellman took over, winning a pair of games in an 11-3A tie-breaker tournament to get the top seed after the Tigers shared the district title with Bells and Pottsboro before getting to the state tourney for the first time since 2001 and losing to eventual champion Malakoff, 4-3, on a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh in their semifinal contest.

“Coach Hellman is a veteran coach who embodies the principles of GT Athletics: discipline, mental toughness and extra effort,” Gunter athletic director Jake Fieszel said. “He is a coach that understand all aspects of an athletics program and I couldn’t be more excited to see how he continues to add to the rich tradition of our baseball program!”

Hellman has been either an assistant or head coach for either football or baseball during most of a 28-year career with stops at Celina twice, Lake Dallas twice, a 13-year stretch at his alma mater, Aubrey, and four years at Pilot Point before moving to Gunter.

He was Aubrey’s football coach from 2002-08 with a 37-38 record and three playoff appearances before serving in an athletic-director only role. He did fill in as the head baseball coach due to a late coaching change and as part of that move led the Chaparrals to the region final in 2010.

“Coach Hellman has proven that he has everything it takes to lead a team to success,” Gunter superintendent Dr. Jill Siler said. “His unyielding focus during the playoffs coupled with his passion for coaching young people and his love of the game allowed our players to come together and perform at their very best.”

Clement had been the head coach since 2015 following a 16-year stretch as an assistant coach for the program.

In those seven years, the Tigers qualified for the playoffs every season and made the third round all but one time with region semifinals trips in 2015, 2017 and 2019. He had a 165-55 overall record when he stepped down, including a 22-5 mark this spring.

Last season the Tigers were 11-5 when the season was stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, Gunter went 26-10 and lost to Big Sandy Harmony in the region semis.

Gunter ended 17-12 with an area round loss against Sunnyvale in 2018.

Clement's best season was in 2017 when the Tigers went 32-9 and lost a series against Beckville with both region semifinal losses, including Game 3, coming by a run.

In 2016 Gunter went 30-8 with a region quarterfinal loss to Bowie in three games.

The Tigers went 27-6 in his first season in charge with a region semifinal loss in three games to state semifinalist Edgewood.

As an assistant coach, Clement helped the Tigers make the playoffs every season except for one — in 2011 when Gunter was part of a four-way tie for first place in 11-2A and they were the odd team out as three teams advanced to the playoffs.

It was the first, and remains, the only time since 1985 the Tigers have missed the postseason.

Clement was an assistant on the back-to-back state semifinalists in 2000 and 2001 as well as a region finalist appearance in 2004 and four other trips to the region semifinals.

He was the head coach at Tom Bean for three seasons before taking over at Bowie, his alma mater, for nine years and then moving to Gunter for the 1998 season.