WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – Jim Bacca has been hired as the new head softball coach at West Liberty.

A California native who most recently spent three seasons as head softball coach at Davis & Elkins, Bacca replaces long-time Hilltopper diamond mentor Herb Minch.

Minch won nearly 400 games in his 17-year coaching career before stepping down following the 2011 season in order to devote more time to his family and his duties as head athletic trainer for the university’s 15 intercollegiate sports teams.

“I was very impressed by the atmosphere at West Liberty when I was coaching at Davis & Elkins and had several conversations with coach Minch after he decided to step down,” Bacca said. “He told me the university administration was very supportive of the faculty and staff and my wife and I really liked the location. There’s a great tradition in place here and the new facility is a real showcase.”

Bacca worked for 20 years in law enforcement with the Turlock (Calif.) Police Department. Bacca started Turlock’s K-9 program and moved up through the ranks from patrol officer to detective to sergeant in charge of the detective bureau before being injured and taking a medical retirement. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Excelsior College in Albany, N.Y. and a law degree from Humphrey’s College in Stockton, Calif.

Bacca cut his coaching teeth on the California amateur circuit, coaching all levels of travel ball from 10-Under to 18-Gold. One of his travel teams won a 14-Under NSA California state championship. He also coached at Riverbank (Calif.) High School and had a five-year stint as head coach at Denair (Calif.) High School, leading Denair to an undefeated conference title in 2007

He was hired as head softball coach and assistant professor and coordinator of the Criminal Justice program at Davis & Elkins in 2008. During the course of his three seasons, the Senators tripled their overall number of wins and doubled their total of West Virginia Conference victories. He coached three All-WVIAC players and one all-region performer.

Bacca and his wife, Kristina, are a team on and off the field as Kristina will serve as an assistant coach.

“Kristina and I have coached together for more than 10 years now and she has been an invaluable asset,” Bacca said. “We believe in our student-athletes being students first and encourage them to keep their academic goals as their primary focus, followed closely by their athletic goals.”