For the first time in 16 years, Lompoc High is in the need of a varsity baseball coach.
The Lompoc Record has learned that Jim Allen, who made the playoffs in nearly all of his 16 seasons leading the Braves, will not return for a 17th season.
Allen's club jumped out to a solid start in Los Padres League play this year, battling Santa Ynez for the top spot in the league standings midway through the 21-game LPL campaign, though the Braves did falter midway through their league slate.
The Braves did finish strong, sweeping rival Cabrillo in a decisive two-game series and clinching fourth place and an automatic playoff berth in the process.
In the playoffs, Lompoc rallied to beat Carpinteria 4-3 to win a wild card game and advance to the first round, where it lost to La Canada 6-3 on the road.
Allen's dismissal is another blot on the eventful timeline of the 2017 season for Lompoc High on the diamond.
Mckenna Martin, who began the year as Lompoc's softball coach, was also dismissed, but during the season. Lompoc's softball team, behind the dynamic pitching of Lauren Wade, reeled off seven straight wins to close the season before falling to Arroyo Grande in the first round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs a year after winning a Division 5 title in Martin's first season as coach.
With Allen's teams qualifying for the playoffs in 15 of his 16 seasons, the decision to not bring him back for another year may be aimed at refreshing the program.
"Jim has done a fine job during his tenure but we will be moving the program in a new direction and reestablishing it from the ground up," said Lompoc athletic director Don Cross. "The process has already begun for me and I will be pursuing several candidates to be the new head coach."
Allen, a native of Colton in San Bernardino County, has taught at Lompoc High during his tenure as the school's baseball coach. Cross said Allen remains a teacher within the district but may opt to teach elsewhere within Lompoc Unified.
It's been rumored that Allen may join the coaching staff at Allan Hancock College, as the baseball team's pitching coach. Allen has also coached the Santa Maria Valley Packers, a summer collegiate team, the last several years.
At Lompoc, Allen's team consistently made runs deep into the playoffs, typically winning close, low-scoring games. This year, the Braves went 16-16 overall and 12-9 in the LPL.
Between 2004 and 2017, Allen's team compiled a win-loss record of 219-151-4.
But the Braves have lost at least 15 games five seasons in a row. Allen's best recent stretch with the Braves lasted from 2010 to 2012. In 2010, the Braves advanced to the Division 5 quarterfinals. The next year, the Braves went 19-12-1 and advanced to the Division 5 championship game, eventually falling to Oak Hill 3-2.
The Braves then went 22-7 in 2012 and made it to the Division 5 semifinals, where they lost to Lancaster Paraclete 3-2. The Braves continued to make the playoffs, despite averaging about 15 losses over the last five years. In 2014, Lompoc went 10-15-1 and lost in first round after a wild card win. The Braves went 17-15 in 2015 and lost to Monrovia in the Division 5 quarterfinals. Lompoc went 15-15 last year.