Chris Kirtland enters his sixth season as Jones' head baseball coach in 2021 where he has won 79 percent of his games.
Kirtland and the Bobcats play in the finest facility in Mississippi junior college at Community Bank Park and boast one of the nation's top attendances year in and year out.
Kirtland is 181-47 overall and 92-20 in conference play, winning 20 league games in each of his first four seasons. The Bobcats have been nationally-ranked in 43 out of 47 NJCAA Division II polls under Kirtland and spent the entire 2017 season at No. 1.
In 11 seasons with the Bobcats as head coach and an assistant, he's helped lead the Bobcats to 10 postseason appearances, three MACJC Championships (2011, 2014, 2017) the 2016 NJCAA National Championship and a national runner-up finish in 2011.
Kirtland led JC to a 37-12 record in 2019, a playoff series win over Hinds and region tournament berth. The Bobcats were nationally-ranked in 11 straight polls and closed the season with one of the country's top ERA's (3.66) and batting average (.326).
The Bobcats finished 46-4 and were rated No. 1 for the entire 2017 season en route to a conference championship and runner-up finish in the region tournament. Jones went 38-11 and finished as MACJC runner-up in 2018.
In his first season as head coach in 2016, Kirtland guided the Bobcats to a sterling 54-9 record and their first-ever NJCAA Division II National Championship. It was also the first baseball national championship for a team from the MACJC. He was named the Coach of the World Series, Region 23 Coach of the Year and was also a finalist for the prestigious Skip Bertman National Coach of the Year Award.
Since being named head coach, Kirtland has helped 37 players continue their careers at the four-year level, with 28 of those signing with Division I programs.
Kirtland served six years as an assistant coach under Christian Ostrander, working primarily with catchers and outfielders and serving as the lead recruiter. The Bobcats posted a 255-109 record with two MACJC championships, one Region 23 title and a national runner-up finish in the 2011 NJCAA World Series.
Kirtland has helped develop many successful Bobcat players over the years, including NJCAA All-American catchers Tyler Graves (2014) and Mason Irby (2015-16). Graves was named the NJCAA DII Defensive Player of the Year in 2014. Other notable players include All-American Tyler Gardner (2010), 9th round MLB draft pick Chris Lofton (2010), Carter Polles (2014) and Chris Morgan (2014).
Kirtland came to JCJC from the University of Southern Mississippi, where he served as Director of Baseball Operations for the Golden Eagles in 2009. Southern Miss won the 2009 Atlanta Regional, Gainesville Super Regional and advanced to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., for the first time in school history.
Kirtland was a utility player for legendary coach Corky Palmer and received his bachelor's degree in sports administration from Southern Miss in 2008, with a minor in business. He earned his master's degree in sports management from Southern Miss in 2009.
A New Orleans native, Kirtland is married to the former Amanda Nettles of Hattiesburg and the couple have two sons, Blake and Jordan
Former Bobcat standout infielder Zach Allen, who has the unique distinction of winning an NJCAA national championship ring as a coach and making it to the national finals as a player at Jones, returns to coach alongside Chris Kirtland for the 2021 season.
"We are very pleased to have Zach joining our coaching staff once again," Kirtland said. "He is the perfect fit for what we are looking for in a coach for our program. Zach played and coached at a very high level at Jones in the past, and I know that our players will benefit from his knowledge and experience."
The Pascagoula native spent the 2019 season as an assistant at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and 2018 season at Harrison Central High School.
Allen last coached at Jones during the 2015-17 seasons, helping the Bobcats to a combined 130-31 record (.807), including the program's first national championship.
Working mainly with infielders, hitters and baserunners, the 2016 team won a school-record 54 games, batted .352 with 60 home runs and stole a record 195 bases. Every Bobcat starting infielder finished the season with an NCAA Division I offer.
Allen played at Jones during the 2011-12 seasons under Christian Ostrander, winning a pair of division titles, a conference championship and region championship. As a freshman, he was the team's leading hitter (.366) and starting second baseman and guided the Bobcats to their first-ever NJCAA World Series.
He extended his baseball career at both Point Loma Nazarene University and William Carey before re-joining Jones in 2015 as a graduate assistant. He received his masters from USM in 2016.
Allen also served as a volunteer assistant at Stone High School in 2013-14.
Allen is married to the former Devin Allen and the couple welcomed their first child Elizabeth in August.
Former Bobcat shortstop Graham Odom returns to Ellisville for his second season as an assistant coach.
Odom, the 2018 MAIS Coach of the Year, spent the previous three seasons as the head coach at Tri-County Academy, compiling a record of 57-24 and helping the Rebels to back-to-back district titles and consecutive berths in the State Championship Series.
Odom spent the 2015-16 seasons at East Mississippi Community College where he served in a variety of roles, including coaching infielders and hitters. During his first year on the Scooba campus as a graduate assistant, Odom helped guide the Lions to a third place finish in the conference and the school's first NJCAA Region 23 Tournament appearance since 2004.
A product of Pascagoula High School, Odom began his collegiate career as a two-year starter at Jones County, where he helped head coach Christian Ostrander's Bobcats compile a two-year composite record of 83-27 and back-to-back MACJC South Division titles. As a sophomore, Odom batted .275 with 31 runs scored and 25 RBIs for the 46-15 JCJC squad that finished the 2011 campaign as the NJCAA Division II World Series runners-up.
Odom continued his college experience at South Alabama, where he made 92 career starts in 101 appearances for the Jaguars. He hit .247 with 30 runs scored and 25 RBIs as a senior in helping lead the 43-20 Jaguars to their winningest season in 12 years and an appearance in the 2013 NCAA Starkville Regional hosted by Mississippi State University.
In 2012 as a junior at South Alabama, Odom hit .344 during Sun Belt Conference regular-season play. He also enjoyed success in the classroom as a member of the SBC Academic Honor Roll.
Odom earned his bachelor's degree in 2013 from South Alabama's School of Continuing Education and Special Programs before earning a master’s degree in Sports Administration from Arkansas State University.
Odom is married to the former Haley Hamlett of Dallas, Texas, and the couple have a three year old daughter, Elliot, and a one year old son, Baker.
Longtime successful prep coach Larry Knight was named the new pitching coach by the Bobcats in October.
Knight replaces Blake Beck who recently accepted a job at Tennessee Tech.
"Number one, coach Knight is an excellent leader of men," Bobcat head coach Chris Kirtland said. "His coaching record over a long career of winning championships shows his dedication and the impact he has on his players. There are many aspects of the program where he will have a positive influence, but we are thrilled to have him here to develop our pitchers, something he has a serious track record of doing."
Knight, who recently retired after serving as head coach at Sumrall High School for 14 seasons, is excited to be joining the Bobcat program.
"First of all, I've been coaching high school baseball in this area for almost 30 years and I've always had the utmost respect for the college here at Jones and the people who have worked here, especially with the baseball program," he said. "I've always been very impressed with the facilities, which are second to none. In my eyes Jones had the lead on that before any of the others and those baseball programs kind of followed up."
"They've had tremendous success over the years and, of course, coach Kirtland is a great guy and has done an outstanding job in leading the program. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to be a part of this and try to maintain the tradition here and take it even further."
Knight's record speaks for itself.
In 27 seasons as a head coach, Knight has compiled a 695-204 (.773 winning percentage) record.
Knight recently retired after serving as head coach at Sumrall for the past 14 seasons. He posted a 374-96 record with SHS, including five MHSAA state championships, eight South State titles and 13 division crowns.
Prior to going to Sumrall, Knight was head coach at Hattiesburg High School for 13 years, leading the Tigers to a 321-108 mark with four state titles, six South State crowns and eight division championships.
He was named Hattiesburg American Coach of the Year five times and Jackson Clarion-Ledger Coach of the Year three times. He was named USA Today High School Coach of the Year in 2010 and National Coach of the Year by both MaxPreps and EA Sports in 2009.
The Clarion-Ledger selected him as the 2010 Mississippi Sportsman of the Year for having the first Mississippi high school team of any sport to finish as the number one ranked team in the country, according to USA Today. He was most recently selected as Pine Belt Sports and Sports 601 Baseball Coach of the Year.
The Hattiesburg High School graduate was an All-Conference pitcher at William Carey University for three of his four seasons and was named an All-American during his senior year.
He graduated with a bachelors degree in mathematics and signed with the Atlanta Braves. After playing two years with the Braves and the Detroit Tigers organizations, he returned to William Carey and earned his ME degree in secondary education in 1990 with special emphasis in mathematics.
Knight began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at William Carey in 1989 with the nationally ranked Crusaders advancing to the regional playoffs in both of his seasons there.
He then went to Petal High School as an assistant coach for three years, helping the Panthers to a Class 4A state championship in 1991 before becoming the head coach at Hattiesburg in 1994.
Now, Knight returns to the collegiate coaching ranks for the first time since his days as a GA at William Carey.
"I'm looking forward to not only working with this type of athlete, but I'm looking forward to the recruiting side, too," he said. "Over the years, I've developed a strong relationship with a lot of high school coaches throughout the state and I'm looking forward to talking with them and seeing their guys play. To me, that's always been something that's appealing. In high school, you play the cards you are dealt and in college, you can pick and choose."
"From my standpoint, not only is Jones a great college, they also have great tradition with baseball. Hopefully, with the excitement with things around the program, we can get some winners in here and be able to play some good baseball."
He is married to the former Pam Robbins, who is also a Hattiesburg High School graduate. They have three sons: Austin (27), Alex (23) and Andrew (16).
Knight and his family are members of Hattiesburg's Temple Baptist Church where he serves as a deacon.