After finishing the 2017 season, Anarie Duckett decided to take a step back from the Ninety Six softball team, allowing assistant coach John Coster to take over as the team’s head coach.

In his five years as the Wildcats head coach, Coster led the Wildcats deep into the playoffs every year, bringing home the team’s first state championship in 2019.

Just as Duckett did for him, Coster decided to take a step back from the team, paving the way for his assistant Malik Goodman to be the next Wildcat head coach.

“I’m very excited,” Goodman said. “I think the biggest thing is just building on the foundation that is already there. Obviously, there has been recent success. There were hiccups last year, but they turned it around at the end. That shows they care. The thing I’m most excited about is the family atmosphere and how we’re all intertwined.

“I’m really excited to be able to take over. This is a bit opportunity for me, and I’m embracing this with open arms.”

Goodman just wrapped up his second year as a teacher in the district, teaching computer science at Edgewood Middle School. He inherits a team that lost five seniors to graduation but returns an extremely young core that won’t graduate any seniors in 2023.

With his experience at the middle school, Goodman built a relationship with most of the team’s core in the classroom before moving to the softball field.

“Having that relationship before becoming their coach is big,” Goodman said. “I think they’ll all respond well to a little younger vibe from me. I think that really helps out a lot. ... I think they’re excited, and I’m excited as well.”

Goodman just completed his first season with the Wildcat softball team, where he earned the team’s pitch calling duties midway through the season.

“I try to catch the pitchers at practice as much as I can so I can see the movement of their pitches,” Goodman said. “Obviously, I do a lot with Meghan (Kimberling) and her lessons. Some of the other ones that are closer, I’ll try to go to and catch. Once I’m behind there catching, I get a better sense of what pitch to call. The support from the whole team in what I called was huge.”

Contact sports writer Cody Estremera at 864-943-2530.