MACON, Ga. — Athletic director Jim Cole has announced that former LSU associate head coach James DeFeo has been named as Mercer’s new softball head coach. DeFeo is the sixth head coach in program history and replaces Mike Raynor, who resigned in August for personal reasons.
DeFeo brings a successful softball background to what will be his first stint as a collegiate head coach. Overall as a college coach, DeFeo has been a part of more than 600 victories, five conference championships, 12 trips to the NCAA tournament and four Women’s College World Series berths. None of the college programs where he has been on staff have ever suffered a losing season.
“I am truly excited to have a coach with James’ credentials become a part of the Mercer staff,” Cole said. “He is a proven winner and has been a part of some outstanding softball programs. His experience coaching in the SEC will also be a valuable tool.
“We had some outstanding applicants for our position, which says a lot about the potential that is ahead for our softball. I believe James has what it takes to help Mercer’s program reach that next level and beyond.”
DeFeo spent a large portion of his coaching career under the tutelage of legendary LSU head coach Yvette Girouard, who retired from coaching after the 2011 season. In his 11 seasons with the LSU staff — the past seven as the associate head coach — the Tigers rolled up a record of 526-171-1, finished ranked in the top-20 nationally 10 times, qualified for the NCAA championship tournament 10 times and had two trips to the WCWS where LSU finished third both times.
The LSU coaching staff was honored as the National Fastpitch Coaches Association South Region “Coaching Staff of the Year” in both 2001 and 2004. The Tigers also earned three SEC championships during DeFeo’s span with the team.
Longtime LSU baseball coach Skip Bertman, who was also the Tigers’ Director of Athletics for most of DeFeo’s time at the school, believes the Bears have landed the ideal head coach.
“James is a ‘can’t miss,’” Bertman said of DeFeo. “He has that special chemistry and personality with the student-athletes. They really like him, respond to him and respect him. He is incredibly loyal. He will treat athletes with respect and dignity. He’s a good family man and he will gain the confidence of the community, as well as win some ball games along the way.”
Prior to coming to LSU, DeFeo was on staff with Girouard at Louisiana-Lafayette for one season in 2000, where the team won the Sun Belt championship, was ranked No. 16 and qualified for the NCAA regionals. In 1999, a year before teaming up with Girouard, DeFeo was a graduate assistant at Southern Mississippi when the Golden Eagles became the first-ever, first-year program to advance to the WCWS and also won the inaugural Conference USA championship series.