Serving as the HPT HiToms pitching coach for the 2020 Coastal Plain League Mid-Atlantic Champions, Russ helped the HiToms to a 24-7 overall record. Leading a pitching staff that produced both the 2020 CPL Pitcher of the Year and a 2021 MLB First-Round Draft pick (Ryan Cusick – Wake Forest/Atlanta Braves), Russ managed the HiTom hurlers to a team earned run average of 3.13 and an average of 11 strikeouts per nine innings. In addition, four of Russ’ pitchers earned first team ALL-CPL honors: Cusick, Matthew Siverling (Virginia Tech), K.J. Wells Jr. (Louisburg) and Brody McCullough (Wingate) and three garnered second-team recognition: Shane Smith (Wake Forest), Avery Cain (King) and Will Lancaster (USC Upstate).
“In the very uncertain and tumultuous 2020 summer, Coach Russ served as both a calming force and sage teacher,” HiTom president Greg Suire said. “Piloting our pitching staff from day one, DJ kept our hurlers focused on the task at hand and emphasized that sometimes the obstacle is the way. Coach Russ has invested tirelessly in his craft and his experiences as a pitching coach at HPT, hitting coach at Morehead City and top assistant at Guilford Tech hav prepared him to lead our franchise.”
Joining the Morehead City Marlins in 2021 as the hitting coach, Russ made the transition along the Carolina coast to offense seamlessly. Producing another CPL Player of the Year (Hitter of the Year) in Jack Harris, Russ coached third base and spearheaded the Marlins offense to TOP 5 finishes in hits, home runs, runs batted in, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).
“Being a Guilford County native that grew up playing in the greater High Point-Thomasville area, it is truly an honor to become the head coach of the HiToms,” Doug Russ Jr. said. “Having previous coaching experience in the CPL, I understand the talented competition we face daily. I look forward to embracing these challenges and putting our team in the best position possible to bring another championship to Finch Field and HPT.”
Currently the top assistant at Guilford Technical Community College, Russ has been on the Titans staff since 2018 serving as both the hitting and third-base coach. A native of Guilford County, Russ starred at High Point’s Westchester Country Day under Joey Hammond and then went onto Emory & Henry earning four varsity letters (2011– 2014) and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Spanish.
“DJ was an invaluable piece of the 2020 HiToms squad that finished the year ranked by Baseball America as the nation’s 4th best summer team,” 2020 HPT HiToms Head Coach Mickey Williard said. “His experiences as a pitching and hitting coach leave him well positioned for a successful transition to manager. His communication skills, baseball intellect and steady demeanor will serve the 2022 HiToms well in their pursuit of another championship.”