Jake Loper hired to lead Lake High School Softball

In his two seasons as an assistant with the Newton County softball program, Jake Loper saw what it took to win a state championship.

Loper was an assistant on the Lady Cougars team and agreed to become the new head coach at Lake High School on the same day Newton County won the Class-4A state championship.

Loper saw first-hand the amount of work that NCHS head coach Justin Chaney put into winning that title, and that is something that Loper hopes to bring to LHS Softball.

“I think all of them have really bought in, and that goes into how hard they have worked,” Loper said. “They see the direction that I want to go. We are working harder than they have ever worked. There is no 2A program that is going to work as hard as us, and they have taken that and ran with it.”

Loper replaces Keith Essary, who left LHS after one season to take the softball head coach position at West Point High School. The Lady Hornets are two years removed from playing for the Class-2A state championship but lost in the first round of the Class-2A playoffs this past season to Eupora.

Loper got to spend the summer with his new team and has been impressed with what he has seen so far.

“I have been really impressed with how hard they work,” Loper said. “Being at Newton County, people know how hard they work. It’s like the same thing here at Lake, they want to win. We have had a good summer. I know I am fortunate to be able to start my first head coaching job with so much talent.”

Loper said when he heard the job at LHS was coming open, he was urged to apply and liked the fact that he would inherit a team with talent and wouldn’t have to move his family.

“I knew they had a lot of talent here,” he said. “I think we have a chance to be really good this year if we can stay healthy. I think we have a chance to compete for a state championship. We can be really good in fast pitch. We are going to be able to hit it pretty good, and we have good pitching coming back.”

Loper graduated from Sebastopol High School, attended East Central Community College and later graduated from Mississippi State University-Meridian. He then became the assistant under Chaney at NCHS for the last two seasons.

“Probably the No. 1 thing I learned about what it takes to win and all the hard work that goes into it,” he said. “We worked hard at Newton County and that’s what got us a step ahead of other teams. That’s what I plan to do here at Lake and that’s to out work everybody.”

Loper will be assisted in slo-pitch by baseball coach Jake Nester and Bethany Hunter, who played collegiately at Hind Community College. In fast pitch, Zach Hanna will assist Loper.

Loper is married and has two small children, a 2-year-old daughter and a newborn son who was born on July 3.