Cascade baseball coach steps down after 10-year run

Thursday, May 17, 2018
Brandon Bassham said one of his favorite memories was the 2015 Cinderella run to the Class 2A state tournament. His sons Koltt and Keydon greeted him on the field after Cascade defeated Knoxville Catholic. He stepped down from head coaching responsibilities earlier this week.
T-G File Photo by Chris Siers

For 10 years, Brandon Bassham has been at the helm of the Cascade Champion baseball program—and he’s built up a pretty good resume along the way.

But with the conclusion of the 2018 season, Bassham announced to his team and the Cascade administration he would be stepping down from head coaching responsibilities with an opportunity to return to his roots.

Being a family man, Bassham made his decision for the benefit of his entire family.

“It was a key factor. Trying to find something that’s the best fit for not only me, but the kids as well,” he said.

“A lot of it came down to I just thought it’s time. I thought the kids (at Cascade) needed a new voice. It will be easier on us and a little closer to home. Hopefully its the best fit for my family.”

Years of respect

Throughout his decade run at the helm of the Cascade baseball program, Bassham built one of the most respected programs in the area, which included a pair of district titles, two region titles and three state tournament appearances.

When asked about his favorite memories, Bassham was quick to reference each of the state tournament teams he coached at Cascade.

While he eventually found successes, Bassham says the tradition of Cascade baseball put an immediate pressure on his team to deliver.

“David Parker took the program to sub-state in 2001 and Chris Parker took them to the state in ‘07 and back to the sub-state in ‘08. There was a lot of pressure on that team to be good again. I think that team exceeded everybody’s expectations by going through the regular season with 30 wins, one loss and one tie.”

That same 2009 team carried a little extra significance as Bassham defeated Mt. Pleasant, which was coached by his father, in the state sectional.

That season, Cascade finished with a 36-3-1 overall record.

Back to state

He made a return trip to the state tournament in 2012 with a senior-laden team that was expected to produce.

“We had nine seniors, so everybody expected us to be good. It was probably an under-achieving regular season. We finished tied for second in the district and really lost all the tiebreakers and were the No. 4 seed,” Bassham said.

Even with a disappointing finish to the regular season, Bassham’s Champions found a way to knock off Eagleville in the District 9-A title.

“Something happened that night at Eagleville where we went over there and beat them. That team kind of flipped the switch and went from there. We were one game away—had to beat Riverside twice in one day, which was the eventual state champion in 2012,” he said.

Cascade forged through the postseason and eventually found itself among the final three teams left standing in the state tournament.

Needing to beat Decatur County-Riverside twice to advance to the Class A state title, Cascade was able to take Game 1, but fell short in Game 2.

When it came time for the TSSAA realignments in 2014, Cascade found itself in Class 2A, in arguably one of the toughest baseball districts in the state, consisting of the likes of CPA, Spring Hill, Giles County, Marshall County and Page.

Seniors step up

But once again, a group of seniors bought into Bassham’s coaching and resulted in one of the best Cinderella runs in school history.

“In 2015, it was a good group of six or seven seniors. That’s probably the closest team I’ve ever been around in coaching,” Bassham said.

In the regular season, Cascade finished in a tie with Marshall County for fourth place and managed just a 4-6 District 12-AA record.

In the second round of the 12-AA tournament, Cascade found itself in an epic pitcher’s duel at Spring Hill, with the season on the line.

“That game in Spring Hill reminded me of the game in Eagleville from three years before in Eagleville. It was an epic battle where Sam (Gardner) and their kid (Zach) King. I had to take Sam out because his pitch count was up. We got a two strike, two-out hit to take a 3-2 lead. Then (Chandler) Monajjem gets them out in the ninth,” Bassham said.

“I remember telling them that night this would either be the highlight or the beginning,” he added.

Beginning, indeed.

That 2015 run included a Region 6-AA title over eventual state champion CPA.

“There’s just all kinds of things that come to mind as we end up this 10-year run—one that I’m really proud of and I think it’s been really successful,” he said.

Bassham leaves Cascade with a 216-140-4 record as the Champions’ coach.

Last game

Bassham’s final game coaching the Champions came in the Region 4-A semifinals against Grace Christian and was held on the campus of Lipscomb University.

While parents and family members joined in the stands to support Cascade, several of Bassham’s former players were in attendance as well, including the majority of the 2015 state semifinal team.

Players such as Sam and Seth Gardner, Chandler Monajjem, Drew Taylor and others made the trip to Nashville to see Bassham’s final game.

“I saw Sam in pregame. He came down and said hello, as did Coach (Maurice) Carkuff and that meant a lot. Somewhere in the game, I looked up and saw Drew Taylor. As we finished up, for all of those guys to be there, it was just a really touching moment,” Bassham said.

As Bassham prepares for the next chapter of his career, he gave a few parting words advice for his successor. “There’s good kids here. There’s talent here. You just have to come in and go to work and always envision us with a little underdog mentality,” he said.

With his departure from Cascade, Bassham will be returning to MTCS and will be coaching at the middle school level, which he hopes will allow him to spend more time with his family.

Looking ahead

And while it’s a departure from high school competition, Bassham hopes he’ll make a return to high school coaching down the road.

“I do feel like I’ll coach again at this level—I hope I do. If not and if this is a career, then that’s OK,” he said.

Stepping away from coaching at the high school level, Bassham hopes to free up more time to spend more time with his sons, Koltt and Keydon.

“Hopefully it allows me to spend more time with them through their high school and middle school years. It became hard over the last year to miss games and birthday parties. That was always kind of part of it, but it’s kind of weighed on me more in the past couple years than it has before,” he said.

With a return to where he got his start, Bassham feels his decision to leave Cascade is the right decision at the right time—the same as it was a decade ago when he took over the program.

“Someone asked me the other day, “Does this mean you made a mistake 10 years ago?”. Absolutely not. I made the right decision 10 years ago and I hope and pray I’m making it now,” he said.

When asked what he’ll miss most about coaching in the Cascade community, Bassham reflected on the memories of three state tournament runs, including a pair of district titles and two region titles.

But above all else, Bassham says he’ll miss the relationships built and memories made with his teams.

“We’ve met good people and made great memories and relationships that no matter where I work or what I do—that’s what I’ll miss,” he said.