Following a coaching career that spanned two decades and included five Big South titles, Liberty head coach Paul Wetmore announced Monday that he will retire following the conclusion of the 2013 season.

The athletics department will begin a national search for the program's fifth head coach immediately.

"We are deeply grateful for the time and effort Paul has given the Lady Flames softball program and to Liberty University," Director of Athletics Jeff Barber said. "Not only has he led our program on the field with unprecedented success, he has also led our program and its players with integrity both in the classroom and the community."

"We will always have deep appreciation for what he and his teams have accomplished and we wish both Paul and [his wife] Cindie the very best in the days ahead."

Wetmore has been Liberty's only head softball coach at the Division I level, helping reinstate the program when he was hired as Lady Flames' skipper in 1994.

During the last 20 seasons, Wetmore has become the winningest coach in athletics department history, as he will enter the 2013 Big South Softball Championship with 546 career victories.

Wetmore has led the Lady Flames to a pair of Big South Softball Championships and NCAA Regional appearances (2002 and 2011) and Big South regular-season titles in 1999, 2000 and 2007.

Wetmore is a three-time Big South Coach of the Year (1996, 1999 and 2000) and he has been named the Virginia Sports Information Directors's (VaSID) State Coach of the Year four times (1996, 1997, 1998 and 2006).

Wetmore has coached the best players in the programs history, spotlighted by the program's only two All-Americans (Jessica Moore in 2007 and Kelly Strickland in 2011). He also coached five Big South Players of the Year, six VaSID State Players of the Year, seven NFCA all-region honorees, 59 Big South all-conference selections (27 first-team, 32 second-team).

Wetmore is the third winningest coach in Big South history and has posted a 149-147 regular-season conference record in 20 seasons of league play. He has guided the Lady Flames to six Big South championship games (1998, 2000, 2002, 2008, 2009 and 2011), the third-most appearances in Big South history.

Under Wetmore's direction, the Lady Flames have posted nine 30-win seasons (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011).

The Lady Flames continually played some of the top teams in the country under Wetmore's leadership. Liberty recorded six wins against top-25 teams during Wetmore's two decades of coaching, including wins against No. 6 Michigan and No. 10 Baylor in 2007 and a doubleheader sweep against No. 24 Virginia Tech in 2006.

Prior to his days with the Lady Flames softball program, Wetmore logged more than 30 years as both a player and coach at all levels of the softball and baseball ranks. He was a four-year letterman at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, Conn., before receiving an invitation to try out with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Wetmore has been affiliated with Liberty for more than 25 years. He served as the school's Director of Printing Services for 16 years, including several years while he was also head softball coach.

Wetmore will guide the Lady Flames during his 20th Big South Softball Championship event. No. 6-seed Liberty is slated to open up championship play against No. 3-seed Longwood on Thursday.

The Lady Flames and the Lancers will meet in the final game of day one of the 2013 Big South Softball Championship at Terry Field in Rock Hill, S.C.

Following the conclusion of the 2013 season, Wetmore will remain with the program until June 30 to help with the transition to the Lady Flames next head coach.