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On June 28, 2017, Jen Steele was named the third head coach in Marshall softball history.
Steele led the Jacksonville University Dolphins for the past three seasons. The Dolphins won 86 games during her tenure, including 30 wins in 2017, the program’s best since 2013. Jacksonville is a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference and the ASUN finished the 2017 season fifth overall in conference RPI.
“I would like to thank Mike Hamrick for the incredible opportunity to be the next softball coach at Marshall University,” Steele said. “From the moment I stepped on campus there was a contagious, infectious energy and it was evident that everyone bled Green and White. Beatrice Crane-Banford and the entire search committee reiterated how special of a place Marshall is and I am excited to be part of the Herd family!”
Steele took over Jacksonville in the summer of 2014 after the program finished 20-29, eighth place in the Atlantic Sun Conference and missed the conference tournament for the first time in four years. Steele made her mark with an eight-win improvement and returning to the ASUN tournament in her first season.
The Dolphins saw a great improvement on offense and pitching during Steele’s first season. The team increased its batting average by nearly 30 points, scored 99 more runs and broke the program record for stolen bases with 77. In the circle, the team ERA improved from 4.04 in 2014 to 2.96 in 2015 and the pitching staff combined to throw 20 more complete games in 2015.
In 2017, along with the 30 wins, the Dolphins finished ninth in the country with 113 stolen bases. Junior Allie McCourt set the team record with 35 steals and finished tied for 22nd in the country.
During her Jacksonville tenure, 10 players have been named all-conference and five have received ASUN All-Academic honors.
“We are fortunate to have Jennifer lead our softball program,” said Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick. “She brings great experience and will ensure that Marshall Athletics’ tradition of producing high-character student-athletes continues. We are all very excited for her to get started in Huntington.”
“I am thankful for the strong foundation set by the previous staff and am excited to meet the student-athletes in the coming weeks,” Steele said. “I am committed to ensuring that we are excellent in the classroom, on the field, and in the community. I am looking forward to connecting with alumni and the Huntington area, as well as representing Marshall out on the road as we continue to target competitive, high-character, quality student-athletes.
“I am passionate about continuing this program's rich history of excellence, while continuing to take it to new heights. GO HERD!”
She was also a head coach at Division III Randolph College in Lynchburg, Va., and was named the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2009 after leading the team to its first-ever winning season and its first trip to the conference tournament. She then served two years overseeing the pitchers and catchers at George Mason before returning to Longwood in 2012.
At Longwood, Steele was the lead recruiting coordinator for a program that won 81 games over the past two seasons and finished with an RPI of 61 in 2014. Responsible for overseeing the pitching staff while sharing duties with the catchers and the hitters, she helped guide the program to the Big South Tournament title and a NCAA Tournament appearance in 2013. During that first year with her on staff, the team ranked third in the nation with 6.8 runs scored per game and eighth with a .533 slugging percentage. Longwood also finished the season ranked in the top 20 in the nation in home runs per game, doubles per game and batting average.
Steele had a successful career on the diamond for the Lancers, starting 185 out of 189 games and helping to lead the squad to a 143-53 record during her four-year tenure. Her accolades include being named the 2002 Carolinas-Virginia Conference (CVAC) Freshman of the Year and the 2005 Division I All-Independent Pitcher of the Year. In the circle, the two-time All-CVAC selection totaled 73 wins, 625.2 innings pitched, 409 strikeouts and a 1.75 ERA. To this day, she holds the program record for fewest walks per game (1.29). Also a threat at the plate, Steele finished her career with a .324 batting average, 129 RBI and 112 runs scored.
A native of Manassas Park, Virginia, Steele received a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies from Longwood University in 2005. She went on to earn a Masters of Science in exercise and sport studies from Smith College in 2007 where she began her coaching career as a graduate assistant in 2005.
She is a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), the American Sport Education Program and has National Standards of Athletic Coaches Level IV accreditation.
What they are saying about Jennifer Steele
Alex Ricker-Gilbert, Director of Athletics at Jacksonville University
“Jen’s departure from JU is bittersweet for me. I am extremely proud of what she has done here at Jacksonville for our university, department, and student-athletes. Her dedication to their success in the classroom and on the field, as well as their growth in the community has been exciting. Marshall is getting one of the best in the business and I wish her nothing but the best in her next venture.”
Kathy Riley, head coach at Longwood
“Jen is one of the most talented young coaches in the country. The Marshall coaching position is a natural progression in the maturation of Coach Steele because she gets to direct a top 25 program as they compete for multiple championships. It’s an exciting time for Marshall and coach Steele.”
Mickey Dean, head coach at James Madison
“Jen Steele is an excellent hire for Marshall Softball and the university. Jen has strong recruiting ties in the region. She works extremely hard and represents the game very well. I believe this will be a great fit for Marshall and Jen. I wish her the best.”