The big win!

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On Monday night, Lurleen B. Wallace Community College Saints head baseball coach Steve Helms was thankful for one thing.

It wasn’t the fact that he earned his 700th career win against Faulkner University in Montgomery, and it wasn’t the fact that his current team is now 27-10.

It was the many players who have played under him in his 19-year career at the helm of the Saints.

“That’s the most important thing about getting the 700 wins,” he said. “I’ve been blessed with good players through 19 years here.”

Helms was 26 when he took the head coaching job at LBWCC after serving three years as the assistant baseball coach at Huntingdon College. He also played there four years.

His total record is now 701-340, after sweeping Faulkner University in two games. His 700th came on the 18-7 first game win.

Helms, along with his assistant coaches, has helped lead the Saints to two World Series appearances and several conference and division championships.

The Saints have been ranked No. 1 in the country five times.

When asked if there were one special season or memory that comes to his mind leading up to his 700th win, Helms said it happened last Friday when T.J. Fleming came to the game, the first in which he had an opportunity to set the 700 record.

Fleming has been battling cancer and was going to play for the Saints this season.

“People have asked me about the 700 wins and I’ve told them that on Friday, T.J. Fleming coming to the game and walking in our dugout meant more to me than any number of wins because he is what I think the truest teammate is,” he said. “I believe it’s about your team. If I could trade anything — that was worth more than any ball game I’ll ever coach. It’s just who he is. That meant more to me than any win or ring we’ve won from a championship.”

In high school, Helms played three sports, but he fell in love with baseball when he got the opportunity to play college ball at Huntingdon.

“I just fell in love with the mental part of the game and I was blessed,” Helms said. “The good Lord was looking out for me and gave me an opportunity to stay at Huntingdon to be a graduate assistant and the opportunity came up here. So, the good Lord opened some doors and I’ve been blessed ever since.”

Helms admits, after coaching more than 1,000 games, that he still gets nervous before games, just like he did at 26.

“I want our kids to be successful,” he said. “I want them to do well and I get nervous for each and every one of them. If you come through our program, you have paid a price.

“Wins for me is to see a kid work on something and overcome some failures in a game we may lose,” he said. “You would think after 1,000 games you can relax, but I’m just as nervous as I’ve ever been, and to me that’s good. It means something.”

Helms lives in Andalusia with his wife of 27 years, Carla. They have a 15-year-old daughter, Ander; and a 13-year-old son, Chase.