The Valdosta Daily Times
Valdosta State softball Head Coach Thomas Macera and Graduate Assistant Coaches Marti Littlefield and Colette Rollins were collectively named the NCAA Division II South Region Coaching Staff of the Year in an announcement by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association on Wednesday afternoon.
After entering the Gulf South Conference tournament as the second-seed, Valdosta State knocked off top-seeded Alabama-Huntsville (11-7) in the GSC Championship game to earn its sixth-straight league title and reap a return bid to the NCAA South Regional Tournament. The Blazers then rolled through regionals by defeating nationally ranked Tampa and topping GSC rival UAH two-games-to-one in super regional play to earn the right to compete in the NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament. The Blazers advanced all the way to the title game of the tournament in Salem, Va., against No. 1 West Texas A&M, before suffering a tough 3-2 loss to finish as national runner-up.
The rival UAH Chargers came to Valdosta and dominated the Blazers in a three-game sweep in early April, outscoring Valdosta State 27-13 on the weekend. Macera's coaching staff managed to help the Blazers use the experience as a wake-up call, as the squad lost just three games throughout the remainder of their run as national contenders. During that second half stretch that consisted of 20 games, the Blazer offense put up a staggering array of numbers that included 33 homers, 128 runs, 114 RBI's, 20 doubles, 67 walks, a .544 slugging percentage, and a team batting average of .312.
Macera claimed his 400th win at VSU during the early part of the 2014 season, and now holds a record of 437-113 with the program. In his entire collegiate coaching career, Macera ascended above the 600 win mark this season, and has improved his winning percentage to .781 with 643 wins against 180 losses.
The Valdosta State softball team's appearance in the National Tournament in 2014 marked the third straight for the Blazers. The red and black served as one of the nation's top three teams on the home run leaderboard with a combined total of 91 on year. The squad averaged 1.44 home runs per game, and a large portion of their power numbers were supplied by the squad's top two hitters, Courtney Albritton and Shelby Altman, who's 27 and 21 homers this season, respectively, placed them among the nation's top ten long ball hitters in all of Division II.