Marshall Hires Steele as Head Softball Coach
Steele led Jacksonville University Dolphins the past three seasons
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Jennifer Steele has been named Marshall University’s new head softball coach, Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick announced Wednesday.
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.”
Before taking over at Jacksonville, Steele was an assistant George Mason and her alma mater, Longwood. 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.
Steele now takes over a team that just completed one of the best seasons in program history. Marshall spent four weeks ranked in the Top 25 and won a team-record 42 games. The Herd won the Conference USA Regular Season title finishing 20-4, swept up C-USA Player, Pitcher and Coach of the Year honors, and received an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. Marshall led the country in stolen bases with 162 as rising senior Elicia D’Orazio individually led the nation with 59.
“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!”
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.”