In her 18 years as head softball coach, Emily Russell has proven to be a winner, just like she was as a record-setting pitcher for the Lee University Lady Flames thirteen seasons ago.
Russell's Lady Flames have earned 20 or more wins in all 16 seasons of her leadership, including six seasons of 40 or more wins, two of those with more than 50 wins. Overall, Russell has amassed a record of 643-323.
In 2017, Russell's club ended with a 36-20 mark and advanced all the way to the NCAA South Super Regional before falling to No. 5 and fellow Gulf South Conference member West Florida. It was the first trip to the NCAA Championship stage in program history. The Lady Flames ended the record-setting season ranked No. 15 in the final NFCA Top 25 poll, marking their first ever NCAA ranking.
Lee won the South Region 2 Bracket with three straight victories over GSC rivals. The Lady Flames defeated Alabama Huntsville (7-4) and defending national champion North Alabama twice (4-2, 3-2) to advance on as one of the final 16 teams in the NCAA D2 National Tournament.
In 2015 the Lady Flames finished 36-19 and 18-11 in the Gulf South Conference. Lee won the NCCAA Mid-East Region Tournament and finished third at the NCCAA World Series. For the third straight year Russell coached the national player of the year as Kaylie Drew won the honor (NCCAA) after smashing 18 home runs for the Lady Flames.
Russell led the Lady Flames into NCAA Division II and the Gulf South Conference in 2014. Lee finished with a record of 25-24 and had a conference mark of 13-14. Russell coached the NCCAA Player of the Year in Ana Coscorrosa. The power hitting Venezuelan set school career marks in batting average (.451), RBI (231) and hits (275).
In 2010, Russell's Lady Flames earned a 57-5 record, finishing as the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) regular season and tournament champions, on their way to a No. 2 NAIA National Ranking.
That same year, the Lee ladies also competed in the NAIA National Tournament for the first time since 2007, their sixth trip overall. For their outstanding season, Coach Russell was named the SSAC Coach of the Year.
Russell directed the Lady Flames to the SSAC regular season and tournament crowns in 2006, finishing the season with a sparkling record of 55-14. The 2005 Lady Flames finished second in the SSAC regular season, third in the SSAC tournament, and fourth in the NAIA Region XIII Tournament.
In 2004, Coach Russell led her team to the school's first TranSouth Tournament Championship, an NAIA Region XI championship, and the program's third trip to the NAIA National Tournament. For their success, Russell and her staff were named the 2004 NAIA-Softball Coaches Association's Coaching Staff of the Year.
While pitching at Lee, Russell hurled an amazing 305 innings during the 2000 season. She struck out 194 hitters in those 305 innings, at that time a school record. After her playing days for the Lady Flames, she traveled to Europe and pitched professionally for two summers.
Russell holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Lee University, as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching from Lee.
The Lee coach makes her home in Cleveland and is married to Sean Russell. The couple has two sons, Tyson and Carson.