Palo Verde’s Churchfield returns as baseball coach

Paul Churchfield will return to the practice field as Palo Verde’s baseball coach Tuesday, the school’s athletic administrator William Keairnes said Monday.

Churchfield’s status had been in limbo since March 17, when Clark County School District detectives received an initial police report for an alleged incident of battery by Churchfield against a player.

School district investigator Loren Johnson said the case remains an open investigation, but he is confident it will be resolved soon.

“I don’t think it’s going to take much longer,” Johnson said. “It’s being looked into and will be resolved in a timely manner.”

Keairnes declined to say whether Churchfield will coach the rest of the season, saying, “He’s back Tuesday and we’ll move forward.”

Churchfield could not be reached for comment, but his attorney, Joel Mann, said he is confident his client will coach the rest of the season.

“Paul is excited to get back to coaching, doing what he loves,” Mann said. “He’s excited the administration saw he was fit to remain as coach.”

Sources said the alleged incident took place March 11, when Palo Verde lost 6-5 at Spring Valley.

“Paul is a coach, and as a coach, he has to make decisions,” Mann said. “If he could have everyone play all the time, he would. Unfortunately as a coach, he can’t. People sometimes are upset and they lash out. I think that’s what this is.”

Gary Marinch, the father of Palo Verde pitcher Mark Marinch, said he will be glad to see Churchfield return.

“I think that we have a situation that dragged on for over two weeks where a person’s job was taken away without a hearing that I know of,” he said. “What I don’t like is there was no due process. It was ‘guilty until proven innocent.’ I don’t care what you think of the coach; that I don’t like.”

Palo Verde (4-4, 2-1 Northwest League) is scheduled to play at Shadow Ridge on Wednesday.

Churchfield guided the Panthers to the Sunset Region playoffs in each of his first five seasons.