Thursday, June 22, 2017

Whitney Gillespie Leaves Jacksonville State

Jacksonville State hurler Whitney Gillespie has left the program and will not pitch in her senior season of 2018 as a Gamecock, Justin’s World of Softball has learned.

Whitney Gillespie (c) David Brandsma
Gillespie leaves the team following a move to the West coast; sources said that she does not intend to transfer to another program to finish her career, but instead has played her last game. Gillespie redshirted in 2014, and thus would have been a fifth-year senior during the 2018 season.

In 2016, Gillespie was named the Ohio Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year and earned back-to-back all-region honors in 2016-17. She earned an all-conference nod in each of her three seasons as a Gamecock.

The 2017 season was arguably Gillespie’s finest, despite failing to repeat with the conference’s top pitcher award. On the year, she threw for a 1.31 ERA, twenty-one wins, and 156 strikeouts, holding opponents to just a .209 batting average.

Dangerous with her stick as well as in the circle, Gillespie also hit .330 on the 2017 season in her own right, accumulating seven home runs and a slugging percentage of .625.

Rodney DeLong Named Austin Peay Head Coach

Austin Peay has hired Rodney DeLong as the program’s new head coach.

Image via
DeLong most recently was an assistant coach at Georgia Tech, where he spent just the 2017 season following a head coaching stint at  Cameron University.

The head coach at Division II Cameron for three seasons, DeLong owns a 105-60 career record. The position at his alma mater was his first in the collegiate ranks, though not his first as a head coach. Prior to that, he had been a head coach at the high school level for six years.

DeLong takes over at APU after Shane Showalter’s dismissal. The Governors posted a 26-69 record over the last two seasons, including a 17-31 mark in 2017, when they won just five (25%) of their conference match-ups.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Knighten, Barnhill Nominated for ESPYs

Oklahoma first baseman Shay Knighten and FLorida pitcher Kelly Barnhill are both nominated in various categories on the annual ESPYs awards ballot.

Knighten, whose postseason heroics earned her the title of WCWS Most Outstanding Player, is nominated in the category for Best Championship Performance. She is nominated against Tom Brady of the New England Patriots for his performance in Super Bowl 51; Kevin Durant for his performance in the NBA Finals; and Deshaun Watson for his performance in the College Football Playoff National Championship game.

Part of the championship-winning Sooners club, Knighten ended the World Series with a .350 batting average, scoring four runs on two doubles and a home run, with eight RBI. She was responsible for the game-winning three-run home run in the 17th inning of Game 1, as well as the game-winning runs in Game 2 of the championship series.

Barnhill, who earned National Player of the Year honors after her sophomore campaign, is nominated for the Best Female College Athlete award. Barnhill put together a nation-leading 0.36 ERA during the regular season, allowing fewer than three hits per game and more than thirteen strikeouts a game. She ranked in the top ten nationally in shutouts and strikeouts. She collected more than 330 KOs from the circle.

The Gator righty is one of five nominated for the award; the other candidates include Stanford’s Inky Ajanaku (volleyball), West Virginia’s Kadeisha Buchanan (soccer), Washington’s Kelsey Plum (basketball), and Maryland’s Zoe Stukenberg (lacrosse).

Other categories on the award show ledger include Best Female Athlete, Best Game, Best Play, and Best Team, though no softball-related nominees are up for those awards.

The ESPYs awards show will be held and televised on July 12; the telecast will begin at 8:00 pm Eastern on ESPN that evening. Future Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Peyton Manning will host the awards show.

Where Are They Now: Amber Miles

Who is she? Amber Miles, a former outfielder for the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters.
What is she known for? During her playing career at La Tech, Miles twice earned all-WAC honors (the Lady Techsters' conference of residence at that time), and ended her career as the program's record holder in the single-season hits category, as well as top-ten rankings in five other program career statistical categories. After her collegiate career, Miles played a single season professionally with the Nebraska Comets.
Here’s something interesting... At one point in time, while the show was still on the air and as part of a local newspaper feature, Amber tried out for the FOX television competition show American Idol. Though she did not make it out of the first round, she calls the process “an experience nonetheless.”
Quotable quote: “Life happens, good, bad, or indifferent. But it’s about how you respond and, just as important, life is about building relationships.”
What’s she up to now? After a year out of school, Miles entered the collegiate coaching ranks, first spending five years on staff at her alma mater, Louisiana Tech. She then secured a role on staff at the University of Texas-Dallas. She spent two seasons in the head coaching position at Darton State College before assuming her current role, as head coach of Albany State University.

Keep up: You can follow Amber’s Albany State team on Twitter @AlbanySU_SBall.

Radford Hires Hope Creasy as Head Coach

Radford has announced Hope Creasy as the program’s new head coach.

Creasy spent the last two seasons on Aileen Morales’ staff at Radford, and will now take over the reins from Morales, who accepted the head coaching position at Georgia Tech.

Prior to her coaching stint with the Highlanders, Creasy was head coach at Louisburg College, a two-year school in North Carolina. Her resume also includes coaching stints as an assistant at Wittenburg University in Ohio and Georgia Southern.

During Creasy’s only season as a head coach previously, Louisburg went 31-16 under her guidance and the NJCAA Region X Championship.

A graduate of Radford, she was a three-time all-conference honoree and was named the Big South Woman of the Year and a first-team all-Region selection during her senior season in 2010. She ranks fourth in program history in career home runs.

She assumes the reins of a Highlanders program that went 27-28 in 2017 and posted an 8-13 record in conference play. The Highlanders went two-and-out in the conference tournament.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Craig Nicholson Named Head Coach at Texas A&M-Kingsville

Former Arizona State and Ball State skipper Craig Nicholson has resurfaced at the collegiate level, being announced as the new head coach at Texas A&M-Kingsville this week. The school competes in the Lone Star Conference at the Division II level.

Nicholson most recently served as head coach at Arizona State from 2014-2015, a two-year stint that saw his team make the NCAA tournament in both years. He resigned prior to the 2016 season to deal with some personal issues.

The Sun Devils hosted a regional in Nicholson's first season at the program's helm, and advanced to the regional final in his second, and what would be his last, season leading the squad. Nicholson collected eighty-two wins during his time in Tempe.

The head coach at Ball State prior to moving to ASU, Nicholson lead the Cardinals to four conference champions during his seven seasons leading that program; he posted an above-.500 record in eight straight seasons beginning in 2008, and a winning record in conference play for seven straight seasons beginning in 2009.

Nicholson spent eleven seasons as the head coach at Central Arizona College, leading the program to four junior college national championships and collecting more than 700 wins at the school. He also served for a single season, in 2008, as an assistant coach for the NPF's Chicago Bandits and helped lead that team to a league title.

At A&M-Kingsville, Nicholson inherits a program that finished the 2017 season with a record of 27-24, and an even .500 mark in Lone Star Conference play. The Javelinas finished seventh in the conference standings, narrowly missing out on the six-team conference tournament field.

Southern Miss Adds Ole Miss Transfer Van Schaik

Southern Miss has added former Ole Miss catcher Sarah Van Schaik to their roster for the 2018 season.

Photo: Ole Miss Athletics
Golden Eagles head coach Wendy Hogue announced the move via Twitter late last week. Van Schaik will be eligible to play at her new school right away after being granted her full release from Ole Miss.

Van Schaik appeared in fifty-one games for the SEC champion Rebels in 2017, batting .250 with four home runs and twenty-two RBI. She made just one error behind the plate with more than 150 putouts to her name during her two seasons in Oxford.

She was one of two players with an RBI in the SEC tournament-opening game against archrival Mississippi State that started the Rebels’ miraculous run that would eventually take them to their first-ever hosted regional and then to the Super Regional round.

At Southern Miss, Van Schaik will join a program that finished 27-26 in 2017, including an 8-13 conference record. The Eagles collected two wins over Louisiana-Lafayette, and endured close losses to Alabama, LSU, and Mississippi State.