@HerdSB Named NFCA Mideast Region Coaching Staff of the Year
Marshall one of 14 programs selected in Division I
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Marshall softball was honored by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association as Mideast Region Coaching Staff of the Year. The Thundering Herd staff was chosen as one of 14 programs honored by region in all of Division I.
The Herd was led by Head Coach Shonda Stanton, Associate Head Coach Kendall Fearn, Assistant Coach Chanda Bell and Student Assistant Rebecca Myslenski.
“When you surround yourself with like-minded individuals who believe in the development of the student-athlete and share similar values it makes for a successful equation,” Stanton said. “I appreciate all the time Chanda, Kendall and Rebecca have invested in Herd softball.
“We know it extends beyond the coaching staff to all the support staff, which is the true essence of I am because we are.”
In the group’s fourth season together, Marshall won a program-best 42 games including a team record 17-game winning streak from March 3-April 1. The Herd spent four weeks ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Top 25 poll and held a top 30 RPI ranking for the majority of the season. The individual accolades rolled in for a team that finished 20-4 and won the Conference USA Regular Season title. Marshall racked up Conference USA Coach of the Year (Stanton), Player of the Year (Morgan Zerkle) and Pitcher of the Year (Jordan Dixon).
Zerkle and Dixon were also honored as NFCA All-America selections, a testament to the whole coaching staff.
Stanton came to Marshall in the summer of 1999 and led the program for the last 18 seasons before taking the head job at Indiana this past Saturday. She has taken the Herd into the national and international conversation as this summer four current and past Marshall players will put on National Team uniforms. Zerkle will suit up for the USA Women’s National Team. Elicia D’Orazio, the winner of the Golden Shoe Award as the nation’s leader in stolen bases, plays for Puerto Rico. Eloise Tribolet will once again don the French National Team uniform and 2012 senior Erika Bennett plays for Team Mexico. During Stanton’s tenure, Marshall won 560 games including 135 over the past four seasons. Marshall has consistently been among the top in the country in stolen bases having been ranked more times in the top 10 (11) than any other program, and led the country for the third time since 2011 this season.
Fearn has been a consistent motivator and tireless worker with the hitters and the outfield. The Herd has combined for a .313 batting average over the past four years and has recorded three of the top four scoring seasons in team history. Marshall broke its team record for stolen bases each of the last three years. The Herd had at least one player bat over .400 for the third consecutive season. In 2017, Marshall had its highest slugging percentage (.459) since 2008. Under Fearn, Herd star Morgan Zerkle set several team career, season and game records. By the end of the year, Zerkle was Marshall’s all-time leader in batting average (.451), stolen bases (162) and triples (14). As a senior, Zerkle led the Herd with a .476 average, 79 hits, 28 extra base hits, .789 slugging percentage and a .508 on base percentage. Zerkle developed into one of the best players in the country as she was selected first to the USA Women’s Elite Team in 2016 and now the National Team. She was drafted by the Scrap Yard Dawgs of the National Pro Fastpitch League in April.
Bell took her knowledge, skill and passion for the game to the Marshall pitchers and developed Jordan Dixon into one of the best pitchers in the country. Marshall’s winning percentage of .616 over the last four seasons is second-best for a four-year stretch by just one point (.617 from 2003-06). Bell’s work with the pitching staff allowed Marshall to reach new heights as twice Dixon was among the top five in the country in total wins. Dixon finished her senior year with the third most wins in Division I. The senior ace also reached a combination of career numbers that once looked unattainable. Under Bell, Dixon became the first Herd pitcher to earn 100 wins (108), record 1,000 strikeouts (1,115) and pitch in 1,000 innings (1,074.2). On her to becoming an All-American, Dixon won 17-straight starts from March 3-April 14 and finished conference play with a record of 15-2. Dixon tossed two no-hitters in 2017 including a 2-0 victory over WKU in the quarterfinals of the C-USA Tournament. It was just the second no-hitter in conference tournament history.
Myslenski played for two seasons under the trio of coaches and then joined the staff for the 2016 season after being medically disqualified. As a player, Myslenski fought through injuries to become a rock at first base in 2015. She made the switch from middle infield to first and learned from Fearn, a former first-baseman during her playing days at UNLV. Once with the staff, Myslenski worked wherever she was needed and helped the team tremendously with the breakdown of game film. She also assisted with many other office duties including academics.
The 14 coaching staffs are now eligible for the NFCA’s National Coaching Staff of the Year award, which will be announced on June 28.