PERU, Neb. — Peru State interim athletic director Steve Schneider recently announced the hiring of J.L. Thomason to serve as the Bobcats’ interim head softball coach.

Thomason takes the place of long-time Peru State head coach Mark Mathews, who died unexpectedly on Christmas Eve.

In making his announcement, Schneider noted, "JL is a 2012 Peru State graduate and received his master’s from Peru State in 2014. He has served as Coach Wayne Albury’s lead assistant coach for the past six years. He understands our systems/procedures, is a good teacher of the game, knows the recruitment business, fundraising and most importantly is a person of character. He will build upon the good works of Coach Mathews."

Thomason is a former student-athlete at Peru State and came to the college from Holt. He is a 2007 graduate of Crestview High School and was a four-year letterman on the varsity baseball and football teams at CHS.

In the winter of 2012, Thomason completed his Bachelor of Science in business administration-management and later went on to earn his Master of Science in organizational management-entrepreneurial and economic development in winter of 2014.

As an athlete at Peru State, Thomason participated in baseball for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. While he was a member of the team, Thomason ranked first in the NAIA for fielding percentage (2012), maintained a career batting average of 0.381 (2011-2012), and held a career fielding percentage of 0.852 (2011-2012).

Following the 2012 season, Thomason was named as a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete and a conference scholar-athlete.

Thomason was a member of the first Peru State baseball team that made it to a NAIA National Tournament. In 2012, the Bobcats played in the Paducah, Ky., regional where the team went 2-2, with an upset over in-state rival Bellevue University.

Before stepping into the interim head softball coaching position, Thomason served as a coaching assistant to the Peru State baseball team for five-and-a-half years.

Over the course of these five years, Thomason assisted the Peru State baseball team in becoming the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart) Western Division Champions in 2013 and achieving the Buffalo Funds Five Star Champions of Character Team Award (2013-2014). In the 2015 season, Thomason was crucial in assisting the Bobcats to winning both the Heart regular season and tournament championships, which propelled the team to their second national tournament experience. Peru State finished 1-2 in the Grand Rapids, Mich., regional.

JL is also no stranger to the strategies behind baseball and softball as he is an expert in creating accurate scouting reports and spray charts to ensure a victory for Peru teams. He also adds that he has been a hitting coach, infield and outfield instructor, third base coach, and strength and conditioning instructor.

In addition to being a coaching assistant at Peru State, Thomason contributed to other athletic programs by managing home games for football, volleyball and basketball.

Thomason said he is pleased to have the opportunity to lead the Bobcat softball program, but is aware of the challenges. He stated, "Having been here for over seven years while Coach Mathews’ was here, I am aware of the Peru State softball traditions. I am excited to have an opportunity to serve as a head coach and will work my hardest to make the program the best it can be to honor the past and look to the future of the program."

Brooks Ivey of Falls City and Amberlin Scharsch of Aiea, Hawaii will assist Thomason this spring. Ivey is in his second year as a graduate assistant while Scharsch is serving as a student assistant having completed her eligibility last spring.

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Article updated to include more biographical information. (Jan. 23, 2018, 8 p.m.)