The Willard Baseball Legends Club began in the Spring of 2019 as a way to honor the all-time greats of Willard Tiger Baseball. These honorees have each had a great impact upon the program and its continued success. Each spring following a varsity home contest, a new Legend is added to the club. The following biographies highlight the current members and the impact that they have had upon the program.
John Hartley (2019)
One of the all-time winningest coaches in the history of the Ozarks, longtime Willard Head Coach John Harley became the first member of the Willard Legends Club when he was inducted following the Tigers home victory over Waynesville on April 12, 2019. Hartley served as the Tigers head coach for many years until his retirement at the end of the 2007 season. He led Willard to 7 District Titles as well as State Final Four appearances in 1991 and 2003. After a long and successful career at Willard, Hartley would go on to serve as Head Coach at College of the Ozarks and later became the first head coach of the new baseball program at New Covenant Academy, leading the Warriors to the State Title game in just their second season as a program in 2016. Hartley retired from NCA as the end of the 2020 season. Hartley's son, Tyler, was an all-state outfielder for the Tigers during the 2007 season.
Justin Atchison (2021)
Former Willard player and coach Justin Atchison became the second member of the Legends Club in a ceremony following the Tigers home victory over Neosho on April 15, 2021. Atch was an outstanding pitcher for the Tigers during Final Four runs in 2012 and 2013. Known for his bulldog competitiveness on the mound, Atch pitched the Tigers to state with a 3-2 victory over Columbia Rock Bridge in May 2013 and later toed the rubber against perrenial power CBC in the State Semifinals. After arm injuries shortened his collegiate career at Evangel, Atch joined the Tigers coaching staff where he instantly became a favorite with all the players. His ability to make connections and get the best out of everyone had an immediate impact. He was especially close with the Senior class of 2020. Tragically Justin Atchison lost his life on November 10, 2018 following a hunting accident. He was just 24 years old. With memories of Atch still fresh in their hearts and minds, the 2019 Tigers made a run to the state Final Four, culminating with a 3rd place finish and a 30-7 overall record.
Kevin Neeley (2022)
Kevin Neeley became a member of the Legends Club following the Tigers home contest against Republic on April 26, 2022. He played 4 seasons of Willard High School baseball as a right handed pitcher. He was selected as a member of the 1992 1st team all state roster. Kevin’s favorite memories of playing baseball at Willard were competing with an amazing group of teammates and friends while learning both the game of baseball and life lessons from two of the best coaches, John Hartley & Ron Evans. Kevin was a dominant Willard Baseball pitcher who continues to co-own the record for most wins at 10 and stands on his own as the record holder for best E.R.A. at 1.73. John Hartley, Kevin’s former coach at Willard says “Kevin was a pitcher-only at WHS but had an effect on every game whether he pitched or not. Whether on the mound or in the dugout, Kevin’s competitiveness was infectious for all the players and coaches. The unquestioned ace of our staff for three years and he led us to our first Final Four”. After graduation, Kevin continued his baseball career at Texas Christian University where he graduated with a degree in Computer Science
Clint Anderson (2022)
Clint played 4 seasons of Willard High School baseball as a shortstop and pitcher. He was selected as a member of the 2003 1st team all state roster. Clint most enjoyed having the opportunity to play for the 2003 State Championship in Columbia and beating nationally ranked Liberty High School that same year. Clint was an outstanding Willard Baseball player who still holds the record for most triples hit in a season with 5. When asked for a reflection on Clint his former coach John Hartley stated “We knew from the time Clint was in elementary school that a baseball player was coming. Clint was that #1 guy on the mound that got all the toughest starts, but he also was our shortstop when not pitching and always hit in the middle of the lineup. A fierce competitor who led the Tigers to the 2003 Championship game is one of the best all around baseball players in Willard High School history.” After graduation, Clint continued his baseball career at Crowder College, Oklahoma State University and Charleston Southern University