Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Where Are They Now: Lauren Lackey

Who is she? Lauren Lackey, a former star outfielder for the South Carolina Gamecocks.

What is she known for? After a solid early career, Lauren's final season was by far her greatest, as she earned Easton all-American honors, as well as being named to the CollegeSportsMadness and an all-region honor. She led her team with a .401 batting average and a full .401/.481/.436 slash line, and was a perfect 11-11 in stolen bases.

(c) South Carolina Athletics
Here's something interesting... Before becoming a star on the softball field, Lauren was many things, among them an actress who tried out for several television commercials, though she claims, "I was not good at it!"

Quotable quote: “My softball career has taught me so much not just about the game, but also about how it applies to life. I have learned to never settle for anything but my best and I have developed a huge sense of dedication, determination, and passion for anything that I encounter in life’s journey. Once your career is over, you really begin to appreciate the life lessons this game has taught you, and I truly enjoy using my experiences as a player to help young athletes understand this as well. I never envisioned my future as a coach, but now being a part of young student athletes who have the same aspirations I once had, has been a true blessing.”

What's she up to now? Now Mrs. Hambright after her wedding in 2014 to a former Oregon Duck baseball player, Lauren returned home to California where she received her Master’s degree in exercise science. Having since developed a passion for working with special-needs children, she plans to work full-time in that area, and shares head coaching duties of the school’s softball program with her husband.

Keep up: You can find Lauren on Twitter @laurenlack4.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Softball Musings

Elf on the Shelf co-author Chanda Bell
Chanda Bell was a record-setting for the Kentucky Wildcats, graduating in 2012 with her name atop several program single-season, single-game, and career records, as well as throwing the program's first-ever no-hitter; perfect game; and no-no in SEC conference play. She went on to play a single season with the Chicago Bandits in the NPF.

Did you know that the Wildcat legend shares her name with famous author, namely one of the pair of ladies that originally created the (sometimes infamous) Elf on the Shelf?

Part of a mother-daughter team that penned the original Elf on the Shelf book, "the other" Chanda Bell can be counted as the original mind behind the character, one that has since become a cultural phenomenon; appeared as a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade feature; and reached #1 on the USA Today Bestsellers list.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Redlands Head Coach Spaulding Heads to the Beach

Former North Carolina all-American and University of Redlands head coach Danielle Spaulding has accepted the pitching coach assistant's position at Long Beach State.

Spaulding had been head coach at Redlands, a Division III school, since accepting the interim position in 2013 and the full-time role a year later.

Prior to her tenure at Redlands, Spaulding served as an assistant coach at Texas A&M and enjoyed a stellar playing career that saw her earn three all-American honors at North Carolina. She was named the ACC Player of the Year in 2008 and 2009 and the conference's Pitcher of the Year in 2010.

Spaulding is the Beach's first new pitching coach since the early 2000s, replacing longtime assistant Stephanie Brown who departed the program after thirteen years.

In her tenure as head coach, Spaulding's Redlands program assembled a 76-52 record, including twenty-six victories and a staff ERA of 2.99 in '16.

The Niners' pitching staff posted a 2.87 ERA in 2016, amassing a 33-22 win-loss record and and opponent's batting average of .245.

Danielle is the older sister of UCLA star slugger Delaney Spaulding.

Former Green Bay Coach Spoehr Finds New Home in Fargo

North Dakota State has finalized head coach Darren Mueller’s 2017 staff, and among the new additions is former Green Bay head coach Beth Spoehr. 

Beth Spoehr
Spoehr, who spent two seasons at the helm of the Phoenix, amassed a 39-61 record during her tenure, but led her program to twenty-one victories in 2016 and earning the #4-seed in the Horizon League conference tournament. 

One of the lowest-paid head coaches in Division I while at Green Bay, Spoehr, a Maine graduate and former Swedish professional player and coach, resigned her post as head coach this offseason. 

Joining Spoehr on the Bison coaching staff will be Gerice Olson, herself a former collegiate head coach [at Division II University of Mary from 2006-2010] and a Bison alum. In other NDSU staff news, former Director of Operations Kendall Grimm will be the new volunteer assistant, while recently-graduated star infielder Cheyenne Garcia will take as a graduate assistant/student manager. Joining Mueller’s staff as student assistant coaches are Jenna Isbel; Logan Moreland; and Jackie Stifter. 

This will be Mueller’s first season as a solo head coach since 2010 following the resignation of former co-head coach Jamie Trachsel to accept her own solo-helming position at Iowa State.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Bograkos Leaves MSU; Chastain Joins Spartans as Pitching Coach

Though we don't usually cover assistant coaching moves - frequent and fleeting as they are - this one begged attention due to several factors.

Ashley Chastain
Michigan State has announced the addition of pitching coach Ashley Chastain, who comes from the College of Charleston and replaces former longtime pitching coach Jessica Bograkos, who recently "retired from coaching", according to a Spartan press release.

Bograkos had spent a decade on Jacquie Joseph's staff following an all-American playing career as a Spartan and was at the center of a controversy last year when a former player alleged that she was intentionally hit with pitches multiple times in batting practice, at Bograkos' order.

County prosecutors elected not to pursue charges against Bograkos or Joseph, though Michigan State did conduct an internal investigation into the allegations.

Chastain's hiring represents another rung quickly ascended on her climb up the coaching ladder -- after her playing career as a South Carolina Gamecock ended, Chastain served as a graduate assistant at her alma mater and followed that up with a stint at the College of Charleston, where she helped turn the program around with nearly 100 victories in three seasons and a pitching staff that posted multiple school records and all-conference honors.

The Georgia native also has international experience, both as a player and coach, having been named the MVP of the German Softball Federation championship series in 2013 and helping instruct the German National Team the same year as the squad's pitching coach.

Chastain is the second assistant coach to leave College of Charleston for a Power Five position this fall, joining Sam Marder who accepted an assistant coach position at Texas  Tech.

Chastain joins fellow Gamecock alum Kaela Jackson on Joseph's staff at MSU. Despite a 751-751-1 career win-loss record, Joseph will be inducted into the NFCA Hall of Fame this winter in the Pioneer category.

Heather Gelbard Is New UMBC Head Coach

Heather Gelbard has been named the new coach at UMBC, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Gelbard will be the sixth coach in program history.

Gelbard, a former longtime Florida Atlantic assistant coach and part of the Joan Joyce coaching tree, spent seven seasons with the Owls, the only previous stop on her coaching resume.

The UMBC position will be her first as a collegiate head coach.

Gelbard replaces Joe Franch, who retired after fifteen seasons at the helm of the Retrievers' softball program. She takes over a program that posted a 25-31 mark in 2016, including a 5-12 record in conference play and was eliminated in three games in the America East conference tournament.

UIC Hires Lynn Curylo as Head Coach

Following the resignation of Michelle Venturella, the University of Illinois at Chicago announced the hiring of former Wright State head coach Lynn Curylo to lead the Flames' program.

(c) Tim Zechar
A UIC alum, Curylo leaves a WSU program that she led to 147 wins over six years, including two straight seasons where her team reached the Horizon League championship game and a 2016 season that saw the Raiders post an all-time program-best thirty-seven victories.

Curylo was a two-time all-conference selection as a player at UIC from 1994-1997 and was part of the 1994 Flames squad that reached the Women's College World Series, to date the only UIC squad to ever reach the sport's pinnacle event.

Prior to Wright State, Curylo's collegiate coaching resume also includes stops at Tennessee State and Illinois.

She takes over a UIC program that posted a 33-18 record in 2016, including an 18-5 mark in conference play and was actually eliminated at the hands of Curylo and Wright State in the Horizon League conference tournament. The Flames' 2016 season was highlighted by victories over Iowa, Michigan State, SIU-Edwardsville, and UConn.