The funeral service for longtime softball coach Wayland Oakes will be held at 2 p.m. today at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 900 H St.

Oakes, 80, died Nov. 30 after a lengthy illness.

He became involved in local softball in the 1970s and coached countless Kern County girls on various teams and as a pitching instructor who gave private lessons for more than 30 years.

Oakes coached Bobby Sox and BASA softball for several years, then coached softball as a head coach or assistant at West, Highland, Ridgeview and Stockdale high schools. He also was an assistant coach at Bakersfield College.

"He found something he enjoyed and became a student of the game," said his daughter, Shannon Nieblas, who was the softball coach at Stockdale High for 12 years, with her father helping coach the Mustangs most of those years.

"He honestly used to say, 'I just want to make the kids better in Kern County,' " Nieblas added. "His big goal was seeing a Bakersfield team win a Valley championship, something that hadn't happened for a long time.

"He loved coaching the kids. He took an interest in it, picked peoples' brains and learned what he could."

"He guided me, coached me and overall lifted me into adulthood as my coach and mentor," Jodi Russell said in an e-mail. "I know I'm not the only girl in Bakersfield that feels this way about him. He truly was an amazing coach and will never be forgotten."

Oakes had a 30-year career as a Kern County fireman. Born in Ringold, Okla., Oakes and his family moved to Kern County and settled in the Arvin area in 1945. He was a member of Arvin High's first graduating class in 1952.

A graveside service at Greenlawn Mortuary will follow today's funeral.


West Hills women top BC

SANTA ANA-- Bakersfield College's Rosebrooke Hunt finished with an impressive double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds, the Renegades still came up short, losing to West Hills College of Coalinga, 73-63, in the first round of the Santa Ana Tournament.

Leigha Moland added 13 points and four steals for the Renegades.

BC (1-5) will face San Diego Mesa today at 2 p.m.