Shelly Hoerner prepares for her third season in charge of the App State softball program.
After leading the Mountaineers to their best record since 2014 in her first season, Hoerner tied the program record for wins in a season during the 2019 campaign. The Black and Gold notched a 31-25 record, tying the win total set by the 2013 team that won the regular-season Southern Conference title.
App State’s 13 victories against Sun Belt competition in 2019 were also a program best. The Mountaineers opened the conference slate with six straight wins, sweeping Georgia Southern and ULM on the road. Appalachian then captured the final two victories in a series at Georgia State to start Sun Belt play 8-1.
Aside from massive improvements against conference foes, the Mountaineers won eight straight games from Feb. 15 to March 1 – the longest winning streak in program history. The winning streak featured a 5-0 record at the Holy City Showdown in Charleston, S.C., where App State defeated Dartmouth, the College of Charleston, Radford, Iowa State and Marshall.
Appalachian’s fifth-place finish in the Sun Belt sent the Mountaineers to their first Sun Belt Tournament. App State dropped a tight 2-0 contest to ULM, but the team’s turnaround earned them a spot in the National Invitational Softball Championship – the program’s first-ever postseason appearance. Appalachian played two games in the Liberty regional, falling twice 2-1 in close matchups against Rutgers and George Washington.
In 2019, multiple Mountaineers brought their game to the next level under Hoerner’s leadership. Junior ace Kenzie Longanecker became the first App State player to be named to the All-Sun Belt First Team. Longanecker led the team with 95 strikeouts and 23 starts throughout the season. Another junior, third baseman Keri White, earned All-Sun Belt Second Team honors after leading her team with a .347 batting average, 66 hits, 11 doubles and 13 stolen bases.
At the conclusion of the 2019 season, senior Haley Stewart became the first App State player to be drafted in program history. Stewart was selected No. 30 overall in the American Softball Association Draft by Performance Lab.
Off the field, Hoerner’s team excelled in both the classroom and in helping others in the High Country community. Twelve players made the academic honor roll for the fall 2018 semester, and softball joined all other women’s teams to post a cumulative GPA over 3.0. In the community, softball ranked No. 8 nationally in community service hours among softball programs, according to hours recorded through the Helper Helper platform.
In 2018, Hoerner began the softball program’s turnaround with 17 victories and its first Sun Belt series win since joining the league in 2015. The Mountaineers clinched their first series victory in conference with a 9-8 victory in extra innings against ULM.
From March 3-10, Hoerner’s team rattled off a then program-best seven straight victories. Appalachian defeated Tennessee Tech, Norfolk State and ULM during the historic run.
As a junior, Jenny Dodd posted the best season of her career under Hoerner’s tutelage to become the second App State player to earn All-Sun Belt Second Team honors. Dodd batted .345 with a .521 on-base percentage, nine home runs, six doubles and 38 walks in 2018.
Hoerner also changed the softball program’s culture in the classroom, seeing a 0.44 GPA boost from the fall 2017 semester to the spring 2018 semester. The program’s 3.35 spring GPA helped the team maintain a 3.15 cumulative GPA.
Appalachian State University Director of Athletics, Doug Gillin, named Shelly Hoerner head softball coach on June 23. Hoerner brings 18 years of head coaching experience with over 500 career wins to the App State program.
“We’re looking forward to the experience and excitement Shelly will bring to the program at Appalachian State. I would like to thank the search committee, chaired by Jonathan Reeder, for their work,” said Gillin. “After a national search, Shelly’s success as a coach, in addition to her reputation as a leader, made her a natural fit for App State. I am thrilled to welcome Shelly, Jeff, and Meeka May to the Appalachian State family.”
Hoerner comes to App after a four-year stint as Head Coach at Georgia Tech, where she earned her 500th career win in 2016. At Tech, her team had the highest GPA in the athletic department in 2016 and 2017, averaging over a 3.2 all four years. Hoerner coached the Yellow Jackets to four wins over nationally-ranked opponents, with three Yellow Jackets earning All-ACC honors.
Prior to Georgia Tech, Hoerner compiled a record of 254-206 at the College of Charleston, including a 105-72 mark in Southern Conference play. Named the Southern Conference Coach of the Year in 2007, she led the Cougars to a record of 37-20 overall, 15-8 in the Southern Conference.
From 2000-05, Hoerner was the head coach at Barry University, compiling an overall record of 191-82. She led Barry to Sunshine State Conference championships in 2002 and 2003, and was named the conference's Coach of the Year in both seasons. In 2002, she led Barry to a regional title and was selected as Regional Coach of the Year.
Hoerner began her head coaching career at Valdosta State, where she coached one season (2000). She first embarked on her coaching career as an assistant coach at Barry from 1996-99.
Prior to joining the coaching ranks, Hoerner was an outstanding player on the collegiate level. In two years at Barry (1993-94), the Buccaneers won 80 games. An all-conference selection, Hoerner helped Barry advance to the NCAA Division II College Softball World Series. In her two seasons at Barry, she struck out just six times in 224 at bats while scoring 41 runs and collecting 30 RBI.
Following the 1994 season she transferred to Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., where she ranks among the school's all-time leaders in fielding percentage and stolen bases. In 1995, Hoerner led the Golden Griffins to a 28-14 mark, 11-1 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and records of 33-7 and 11-1 in 1996. Canisius won the MAAC title in both years and Hoerner was a two-time all-conference selection.
Hoerner also gained professional playing experience in 1998 when she signed with Cavigal Nice Sports, a team in Nice, France. She played catcher and helped guide the team to a fifth-place finish in the European Championships.
A 1996 graduate of Canisius, Hoerner also holds a Master's degree from Barry in 2003. Hoerner and husband, Jeff, were married in 1999, and have a daughter, Meeka May.
Statement from Coach Hoerner…
“I would like to thank Director of Athletics Doug Gillin for this incredible opportunity to rebuild and lead the App State program. The vision he has for the athletic department mirrors what I was looking for. Jonathan Reeder and the entire search committee have been terrific through this process and very welcoming. I am excited to lead this program with passion and purpose, and will provide the necessary structure and support to help our student-athletes be successful on the field, in the classroom and in the community. The young women will be prepared for life after they graduate from App State. I look forward to bringing a family atmosphere to this program along with engaging our alumni and their families. We will work as one unit to establish a championship mentality and elevate App State Softball in the Sun Belt Conference.”