Brown named new baseball coach at Franklin

Franklin High Athletic Director Brad Sidwell announced this morning the hiring of former Wheaton College assistant Zach Brown as the school's new head baseball coach.

Brown, an Ashland native and Plymouth Regional (N.H.) grad, replaces Dave Niro, who stepped down after last season.

Here is the release from Wheaton College regarding Brown's hire:

NORTON, Mass. -– Former Wheaton College baseball student-athlete and 11-year assistant coach Zach Brown '02 (Ashland, Mass./Plymouth Regional NH) has been named the head coach of the baseball program at Franklin High School.

Brown will take over the Panthers' program this coming spring after an 11-year stint as a member of the Wheaton coaching staff. Brown, who is the longest tenured assistant coach in program history, was the Lyons' top assistant for six years (2003-08) serving as the team's hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. Since 2008, Brown remained on the staff working primarily with hitters and guided the group to the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) batting average crown for six consecutive seasons.

As a student-athlete, Brown served as the only four-year captain in program history before graduating magna cum laude with a degree in psychology in 2002. Brown played in 116 career games and was a member of four NEWMAC regular season and tournament champion teams and also helped the Lyons qualify for their first three NCAA Tournament appearances. During his junior season, Brown hit a career-high .319 with 26 RBI in 29 starts.

"Zach has been a cornerstone in the development of our program since our first varsity season. As a player, he was the definition of a student-athlete, serving as a four-year captain before graduating magna cum laude. As a coach, he has been equally as effective. Not only has he been instrumental in the development of our hitters, our outfielders and our program in general, he has also been a tireless recruiter and is as good as it gets in terms of evaluating talent," said Wheaton College head coach Eric Podbelski. "More importantly, he's one of the finest individuals I have ever been associated with and I am proud to be able to call him a lifelong friend. To say he will be missed is truly an understatement."

Brown will take over a Panthers team that finished the 2013 season with a 9-9 record overall and 8-8 mark in the Hockomock League (Kelley-Rex Division). Franklin's baseball program has seen plenty of success in the last decade as the Panthers have captured four Hockomock League titles and made eight MIAA Tournament appearances. In 2011, the Panthers won the D1 South Tournament title over Xaverian, 6-5, on a walkoff home run.

"Franklin High School has made a great decision in hiring Zach Brown. They are getting a true leader who will instill in those young men a great work ethic and a true sense of accountability. His knowledge of the game is as good as it gets but in addition to that, he will be prepared, organized and competitive in a way that is not overbearing," said Podbelski. "This much I know, whatever the ceiling for Franklin High School baseball is, will be reached each and every year. His players will develop a great passion for the game of baseball, will learn to take pride in playing it the right way and will always know that no matter what, coach Brown is in this to help them reach their potential, both individually and as a team.

During his coaching career at Wheaton, the Lyons went 360-132-3 overall en route to claiming ten NEWMAC regular season titles and nine conference tournament championships. Wheaton advanced to the NCAA Tournament nine times making a pair of appearances in the NCAA Division III National Championship game. As a student-athlete, Brown earned NEWMAC Academic All-Conference honors during his junior and senior years.