Prep Baseball

Coach of the Year: Rigg helps Suns stay on course for first regional title in 21 years

Southeastern baseball coach Cyle Rigg helped the Suns overcome an uneventful start to the season to win nine of their final 12 games and capture their first regional championship in 21 years. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 9, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Jun. 11, 2019 12:45 am

AUGUSTA, Ill.

Cyle Rigg had plans as soon he got the bus parked and the equipment unpacked.

A visit with Dave Swisegood beckoned.

The Southeastern baseball team, the one Swisegood coached to eight regional championships during his illustrious 50-year career, won its first regional title in 21 years when it knocked off Liberty 5-2 in the championship game of the Class 1A Central Regional on May 20.

Once the celebration subsided and the Suns made the short drive back to Augusta, Rigg headed directly to Swisegood's house.

"I knocked on the door and he poked his head out and said, ‘Well, how did you do?'" Rigg said. "I showed him the regional plaque and his excitement was just unbelievable. It was such a cool moment.

"We sat in his kitchen and he held that regional plaque and just looked at it for a good five or 10 minutes. He said, ‘I just knew you guys could do it.' It was a cool moment for him to share in our excitement."

Rigg had one other surprise for Swisegood. He presented him with a game ball.

"It was such a special moment for this community that he had to be part of it, too," Rigg said.

That seemed only right considering Swisegood led the Suns to their last regional title in 1998 and handed the reins of the program to Rigg when he retired in 2015.

It turns out he put the program in good hands.

Rigg pushed the Suns to fulfill the promise their talent and determination suggested they had. After beginning the season with five consecutive losses, three of which were by three runs or less, the 2019 Herald-Whig Coach of the Year implored the Suns to stay the course.

"I felt we were a team that was right there," Rigg said. "If we make a few more plays and we get a few more big hits, we were going to win some ballgames. I know it was kind of frustrating for the team, but I told them eventually it was going to pay off for us and good things were going to start happening if they kept with it."

Sitting at 2-9 when they went to Payson Seymour on April 10, everything changed.

The Suns won three straight games, then shut out Illini West when the calendar turned to May and became a legitimate regional contender.

"Things could have gone either way," Rigg said. "The confidence could go way down or you could turn it around and things could start going good. Our guys made the decision amongst themselves that they could still salvage the season. That was the positive point for us."

Rigg did his best to stay upbeat.

"We had to look at big picture," Rigg said. "We had to look at what are the things we're doing well and what are the things we're not doing well. The things we were not doing well were things we could fix. We stayed positive through it all."

That's as much a credit to the players as it is the coaching staff.

"We stayed together," said Rigg, whose team finished with an 11-13 record by winning nine of its final 12 games. "It would have been easy for them to say, ‘You know what, it ain't working out this year.' We had good leadership from the upperclassmen. They were not OK with losing, and we turned the corner."

It led Rigg and the Suns down a historic path and right to Swisegood's front door.