WSCC’s Barnett named head baseball coach at Milligan

Walters State first base coach Skyler Barnett, right, congratulates Jacob Jennings after his eventual game-winning hit during Thursday’s NJCAA East Central District Championship Series clinching win at Ken Campbell Field. Barnett, who is in his first year at Walters State as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, was named Milligan College’s new head coach on Friday.

MILLIGAN COLLEGE — For the second straight year, a Walters State baseball assistant coach is leaving to be a head coach at a four-year institution.

Skyler Barnett, who is in his first year as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Senators, was named the head coach at Milligan College Friday afternoon. He joins last year’s recruiting coordinator, Dan Skirka, in the head coaching fraternity.

Skirka was named head coach at Murray State following the 2018 season in which the Senators finished national runner-up with a 60-8 record. Barnett will coach with Walters State at the Alpine Bank JUCO World Series beginning next weekend. The Senators currently have a 52-9 record and are ranked third in the nation.

“I’m excited for this opportunity to work for Milligan College, a school with a purpose and mission I can get behind,” Barnett said. “Growing up in Johnson City, this is a great opportunity for me to come back home, impact lives and help students earn a degree. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to be here. I believe it’s my calling.”

Barnett, a Johnson City native and graduate of East Tennessee State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in sport management, was a highly successful catcher during his collegiate career. In his playing career, he was the ETSU team captain in 2012 and was also a defensive mastermind behind the plate. He received All-Academic honors from the Atlantic Sun Conference in his final three seasons as well as being a recipient of the commissioner’s medal for academic achievement. His best season was his sophomore year, where he batted .296 and had a .486 on-base percentage.

Barnett spent the 2018 season at ETSU as a volunteer assistant coach. In between his playing career and working for ETSU, Barnett coached as a graduate assistant at Lincoln Memorial, helping the school win the South Atlantic Conference for the first time in 54 years. He then joined the staff at Austin Peay State University in 2014 where he coached the catchers and served as a first base coach for one season. In 2015, Barnett joined Carson-Newman University and served as the recruiting coordinator until 2017.

“Obviously I think this is a great hire for Milligan,” Walters State head coach Dave Shelton, a Milligan alumnus, said. “Being an alum myself, I think Skyler is exactly what Milligan needs right now. He will bring stability, work ethic and outstanding knowledge of the game. We’re disappointed to lose Skyler, but this is a great opportunity for him to become a head coach. I couldn’t be happier for him.”

Milligan College Vice President for athletes and student development Mark Fox said, “We are excited to announce the addition of Skyler to our athletic department as head baseball coach. We interviewed multiple candidates, all of whom will become excellent head coaches at some point in their careers, but we believe Skyler is the top candidate and will be a great fit for Milligan. His passion for recruiting and the development of players will lead to sustained long term success.”