Former Lamar Community College all-region outfielder Eric Dorton will return to the Lopes as the new assistant baseball coach.
Newly hired head coach Ben Buck brought Dorton aboard for his experience as a teacher, recruiter and leader.
"We are thrilled to have Coach Dorton running the offense here at LCC. He is one of the best young offensive minds in the game," Buck said. "He is also a proven recruiter and should really thrive here at LCC. When I was thinking about what skills I would want in an assistant coach, I thought I would like to have a master developer of baseball players and humans, and a master recruiter. Coach Dorton is both of those and we are excited to see how it will come together this year."
Dorton joins two of his former coaches in the LCC athletic department. Buck was Lamar's assistant coach during Dorton's 2010 season as a Lope, and returned this summer to take the reins from longtime LCC head coach and current athletic director Scott Crampton.
Dorton, a native of Alamogordo, New Mexico, said the familiarity with both coaches and a shared coaching philosophy will ease his transition and increase the overall success of the program.
"It makes it a lot easier working for and being with the guys you know. We all have the same mindset, that it's not so much about winning – obviously we want to win – but it's more about developing kids and turning them into men, and helping impact their lives," Dorton said. "That's always been all three of our goals. And then you do things the right way hopefully winning comes along with that."
Dorton rejoins the Lopes after two years as the lead assistant at Cloud County Community College (2016-17, 2017-18), one year as an assistant coach at Tarleton State (2015-16), one year as a graduate assistant at West Texas A&M (2014-15) and one season as a volunteer at West Texas A&M (2013).
As with his previous coaching stints, Dorton's role in Lamar will be largely focused on the Lopes' ability to generate runs. Dorton said it was his job to teach "every detail of the offense" at Cloud County, and Lamar's batters will be expected to embrace the particular nature of the LCC offense.
"Last few years, every program I've been a part of has been very detailed," Dorton said.
From swinging the bat to rounding the bases, the Lopes will do everything with specific intent for a deliberate purpose.
"A lot of places don't put an emphasis on baserunning like we do. We spend a lot of time on baserunning," Dorton said. "A lot of teams spend time just focusing on BP (batting practice), just hitting the ball out of the yard. There's detail with every single thing we do. There's a process on how we bunt. There's a process how we run to first base, how we take our leads. Tons of detail, tons of teaching, rather than just rolling the balls out and playing."
Speaking as a recruiter, Dorton believes Lamar can offer what many other junior college programs can't, both in terms of the program's obvious, material advantages, as well as the invaluable intangibles in which coaches like Dorton and Buck take pride.
Any recruit will be impressed with Lamar's first-rate facilities and high-level technology. To turn talented recruits into effective baseball players, the Lopes will utilize an abundance of training tools such as a two-story, field-adjacent indoor facility, Rapsodo hitting and pitching systems, and Driveline trainers and plyo balls.
"All that stuff is going to separate us from other JuCos around," Dorton said. "A lot of places have an indoor facility, but they don't have four cages. And on top of that they don't have an area where you can take ground balls, a pitcher's area up top, and be right there at the field.
"We got it all right here, right across from the school."
If the players come for the promise of improved ability, they will stay for the leadership and guidance provided by a quarter-century of tradition and care.
"The facilities here attract kids right away. What we have a lot of junior colleges don't have," Dorton said. "But even more so, once they're here -- and I know this happened for me -- Crampton and Buck both cared about players' lives. They cared about what we were doing with our lives and how we were as human beings. This place means a lot to me because what they did for my life."
Dorton pursued baseball and his education after Lamar, graduating from West Texas A&M in 2012, and in between coaching gigs Dorton took a year off from baseball to earn his master's degree. It was during this time that Dorton knew his intended career of personal training wasn't his true calling.
"I missed the game and needed to get back to the game any way I can," Dorton said. "Luckily enough West Texas A&M's GA spot opened and they let me come back. This is no doubt what I want to do."
Dorton's career highlights:
- Cloud County more than tripled its win total (28) in Dorton's first season with the program
- West Texas A&M won its first ever conference championship in 2015
- All-Region and All-Confernece center fielder at West Texas A&M
- Earned regional tournament berth as outfielder for Lamar in 2010
- All-Region outfielder for Lamar in 2010
- Male scholar-athlete of the year for West Texas A&M for 2011-12
- Academic All-American for Lamar 2009-10
For more information on Dorton, including more coaching and playing accomplishments, read his coaching bio here.