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Michigan State softball hires Sharonda McDonald-Kelley as head coach

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Michigan State softball program has named a new head coach: Sharonda McDonald-Kelley. Alan Haller, Michigan State’s vice president and director of athletics, made the official announcement on Friday.

McDonald-Kelley spent the past four seasons leading the Campbell University softball program. Under her leadership, the Fighting Camels amassed an overall record of 101-81, and won the Big South tournament titles in both 2021 and 2022.

Campbell went 50-19 in Big South Conference play under McDonald-Kelley’s tutelage and advanced to NCAA Regionals in each of the past two seasons. McDonald-Kelley was named the Big South Coach of the Year in 2021 after the Camels won both the Big South regular season and tournament titles. She coached 15 All-Big South honorees, including seven on the All-Big South first-team

“I want to thank God for this incredible opportunity,” McDonald-Kelley said in a statement. “I would also like to thank Vice President and Director of Athletics Alan Haller for the opportunity to lead the Michigan State softball program. The vision for the softball program and the investment into that vision was clear to me from the beginning. I could feel the pride ingrained in the culture of Michigan State athletics and know I will have the full support of the administration. Core values and family are very important to me. My family and I are excited to embrace the Spartan culture and become part of the community.”

In addition to her stint at Campbell, McDonald-Kelley spent time as an assistant coach at Ohio State, Florida, Texas Tech, LSU, Ohio and Texas Southern. Additionally, she also served as head coach of the Chicago Bandits in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) League in 2017.

While on Florida’s coaching staff, McDonald-Kelley helped lead the Gators to the 2017 Women’s College World Series.

“I’m excited to welcome Sharonda McDonald-Kelley to our Spartan family,” Haller said. “She’s experienced great success as both a coach and a student-athlete, and has a plan to help Spartan softball achieve similar results. She is a teacher of the game, with a proven track record of skill development, helping student-athletes maximize their potential as she did during her record-breaking college career. She has a wealth of experience at several successful major Division 1 programs. And with her demonstrated success of back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances as head coach at Campbell, she’s proven she has the ability to successfully implement her approach in a short period of time.”

McDonald-Kelley takes over the Michigan State softball program following the retirement of longtime head coach Jacquie Joseph, who held the role for 29 seasons. McDonald-Kelley says she has a lot of respect for what Joseph built in East Lansing and is looking forward to getting the program back to a competitive level.

“I have a lot of respect for Jacquie Joseph, for the foundation she’s built at Michigan State and for the ambassador she’s been for softball, the Big Ten and the Michigan State program,” McDonald-Kelley said. “I am looking forward to building upon the foundation she laid and will continue to push the program forward. I am truly honored and excited for this opportunity.”

McDonald-Kelley played college softball for Texas A&M where she was a four-time All-Big 12 selection from 2004 through 2007 and holds multiple program records. She also played professional softball for seven years.

The Michigan State softball team finished the 2022 season with an overall record of 24-28, including a mark of just 4-16 in Big Ten Conference play.