Kelley tabbed as head coach at Mary
BISMARCK, N.D. -- Former Division I All-American and professional softball player Katherine "KJ" Kelley is the new Mary head coach, Marauders athletic director Roger Thomas announced Wednesday.
A native of Rainier, Ore., Kelley joins the Marauders after four years as the assistant coach at Toledo and one year as an assistant at Vermont. Kelley began her coaching career at her alma mater, serving on the staff for one season at Massachusetts under hall of fame head coach Elaine Sortino.
"KJ Kelley brings an impressive amount of experience as a coach and as a player to the University of Mary," Thomas said. "Not only has she competed at a high level, she has also coached extensively at the NCAA Division I level. KJ has had tremendous mentors as a player and a coach and we believe she can raise the level of our already successful Marauders softball program."
"It is a great honor and privilege to be working at the University of Mary and I'm very grateful for this opportunity," Kelley said. "I look forward to building a successful program that will compete not only in the Northern Sun but on the national level, as well."
Kelley spent the past four seasons as the assistant coach at Toledo, where she held the responsibilities of co-head coach. She oversaw the infielder, catchers and hitters and assisted with the pitchers and outfielders. Kelley also led the team's recruiting efforts. After the Rockets won just 20 games total in her first two seasons at Toledo, the squad jumped to 18 wins in 2012, the most for the school since 2005. Toledo also advanced to the Mid-American Conference tournament in 2012 and '13, the first postseason conference appearances for the program since 1996. Additionally, Toledo won a postseason game this spring for the first time since 1996.
Working with Toledo head coach Tarrah Beyster, the Rockets set records for most RBI (202) and highest slugging percentage (.397), and recorded the second-highest batting average (.285) in program history this spring. The 2013 team also scored 227 runs, which ranks third on the all-time list.
Kelley initially began coaching with Beyster at Vermont during the 2008-09 season, where she handled the catchers and outfielders. In Kelley's one season with the Catamounts, single-game school records were set for runs scored, hits, doubles and total bases. The outfielders also recorded the most assists in program history since 1999.
Kelley started her collegiate coaching career at UMass during the 2006-07 season, assisting Sortino in all facets of the program with an emphasis on the catchers, outfielders and hitters. Sortino won more than 1,100 games in 34 seasons at UMass and captured 23 regular season and 23 conference tournament titles while never posting a losing record.
A four-time Atlantic 10 all-conference selection and all-tournament performer and a three-time NFCA all-region selection at UMass from 2002-06, Kelley started her first two seasons at third base before moving to catcher during her junior and senior years. The two-time team captain finished her career with 41 career home runs, 153 RBIs, a career batting average of .335, an on-base percentage of .451 and a .615 slugging percentage. She led UMass to four conference titles, four trips to the NCAA tournament and one trip to an NCAA super regional. She remains UMass' career home run leader, is second in RBIs and is third in slugging and on-base percentage. Defensively Kelley led the A-10 in pickoffs and runners caught stealing in 2005 and '06.
Kelley graduated from UMass in 2006 with a bachelor of science degree in sport management. She then played three seasons with the New England Riptide in the National Pro Fastpitch league from 2006-08. In 2006, as the team's starting catcher, she batted .250 with three home runs and 15 RBI and helped the Riptide win the NPF title.
Kelley replaced Angelena Mexicano, who resigned this summer after leading the Marauders to three consecutive conference tournament appearances.