Softball steps up to plate for 2019 season


New players joining the team will bring new strengths


PHOTOS COURTESY OF UAB ATHLETICS 
  21 Natalie Erwin  9 Destini England  10 Emily Kachel
UAB is returning ten players while welcoming ten newcomers this season. Five of the ten returners are starters, plus the Blazers return three of four pitchers.


Michael Calhoun
Sports Reporter
mcal37@uab.edu

We are just two weeks away from the opening day for the UAB Softball team. The Lady Blazers open up their season on Feb. 7, at Mary Bowers Field at 6 p.m. They are led by Jimmy Kolaitis, the second permanent head coach in the history of the program.  Kolaitis comes to UAB from the University of Oregon where he was an assistant coach, recruiting coordinator as well as the hitting coach.

During his time there, the Ducks put together a 256-42-1 record, winning four Pac-12 Conference Championships, finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the nation in 2014, 2015 and 2018 and made three trips to the Women’s College World Series.  


“I am extremely humbled and excited to be the next head softball coach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham,” Kolaitis said. “I would like to thank Mark Ingram and Dan Carlson for the opportunity and trust to run this program.”

Not only does Kolaitis bring four seasons worth of experience to UAB, he also brings experience from his tenure at the National Pro Fastpitch League (NPF). Kolaitis worked with the Scrap Yard Dogs and the Chicago Bandits. As the pitching coach for the Scrap Yard Dogs in 2017, Kolaitis worked with Monica Abbott, who won Pitcher of the Year and broke the league record for strikeouts in a season.

The Scrap Yard Dogs won the NPF Championship in 2017. With the Chicago Bandits, he served as an assistant coach, working with the likes of Vicky Galindo, Abbott and several national team participants and two players from the Japan Olympic team.  The Blazers are coming off a 26-32-1 campaign where they went 15-8-1 in conference play, good enough for second overall in the conference while also winning the western division outright. 

UAB will return ten players while welcoming ten newcomers this season. Five of the ten returners are starters, plus the Blazers return three of four pitchers.


“I think we have a chance to do something special this season,” Kachel said. “We have a lot of girls returning from last season and everyone is ready to finish what we started last year.”  

Erwin was a first team selection with England landing on second team and Kachel receiving the nod on the all-freshman team. Erwin was also named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Mideast Third Team. Erwin was also named to the CUSA Preseason All-Conference team for the upcoming season.  

“I was honored that I was chosen to represent UAB on some postseason teams, but at the end of the day it didn’t mean very much to me because as a team we didn’t get the job done,” Erwin said. “We feel like there is unfinished business for us as a team and I can’t wait to get out on the field this year.”

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