Over the last 24 years, Jacquie Joseph has instilled core values in the Michigan State softball program, developing student-athletes that are successful on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Under Joseph's leadership, these values allow her players to not only become successful during their college career, but in their future endeavors as well. Joseph's impact as a mentor and coach has been felt for years in the program she has built.
Joseph, who became the fifth head coach of the Spartan softball program prior to the 1994 season, is the winningest coach in Spartan program history. She is embarking on her 25th season in Green and White in 2018 and 30th overall as a head coach. With an overall record which consists of more than 800 victories (804-812-1) and a 668-677-1 mark at Michigan State, she has guided MSU to four NCAA Regional appearances.
The 2018 version of the Spartans will feature 11 juniors and seniors, and return all but one letterwinner from the 2017 squad that went 34-24 and made it to the National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC) regional final. Adding in seven talented newcomers to the returning nucleus gives MSU some lofty goals headed into the spring campaign.
Joseph was inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Hall of Fame in December 2016, a fitting and deserved honor for a mentor who not only helped shape the scores of athletes who have come through her programs, but also helped shape the collegiate game.
A former NFCA president, a former member of the NCAA Rules Committee, a well-respected clinician and an author of two books and five videos dedicated to teaching and coaching the game, Joseph went into the organization's Hall of Fame in the Pioneer category, which honors an NFCA member who has contributed to the sport through service, leadership, participation, and/or coaching, and exhibits high professional standards of ethics, integrity, sportsmanship and honesty.
Joseph joined other Big Ten coaching legends Sharon Drysdale (Northwestern, 1994) Gayle Blevins (Indiana/Iowa, 1999), and Carol Hutchins (Michigan, 2006) in the Hall, along with her collegiate coach Margo Jonker from Central Michigan (2003).
In 2017, junior outfielder Lea Foerster earned Academic All-America and NFCA All-America honors, while both Kaitlyn Eveland and Kelcey Carrasco also earned NFCA All-Region kudos. Foerster was joined on the Academic All-America team by classmate Kristina Zalewski, and ten players total earned Academic All-Big Ten honors (four as Distinguished Scholar).
Eight of Michigan State's ten NFCA All-American selections have come during Joseph's tenure, as have 37 of the program's 50 NFCA All-Region selections. Her MSU players have earned All-Big Ten honors 66 times.
Joseph's players have performed at a high level both on and off the field throughout her entire career, leading to individual accolades in the classroom as well. An impressive nine student-athletes earned Academic All-America honors in her tenure, the most of any active coach in the Michigan State Athletics Department. Her players are a regular on the Academic All-Big Ten Team, earning that honor 148 times, while there have been 23 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar distinctions (a 3.7 GPA or better in the academic year) since the award was established prior to the 2009-2010 campaign.
Joseph's most recent teams have set a course to rewrite the Spartan record books, with players who will return in 2017 recording 24 top-three single-game performances and 16 more top-10 single-season efforts. As a team, MSU has bettered its winning percentage in each of the last three seasons and was a semifinalist in the 2017 Big Ten Tournament, knocking off archrival Michigan on its home field to provide Joseph her 800th coaching victory.
The 2017 Spartan squad went 34-24, its most victories since also winning 34 in the 2006 season. The Spartans went 5-3 in postseason play (the Big Ten Tournament and National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC) combined). The Spartans established new offensive team records in seven categories: Runs (345), batting average (.313), homers (66), RBI (320), total bases (820), slugging percentage (.528) and on-base percentage (.405), while several individual single-season and career records also fell.
The Spartans claimed the program's first-ever Big Ten Tournament title in 2004 with a tournament sweep of host Michigan, Northwestern and Illinois. In addition to the league tournament title, the three wins garnered State its second straight appearance in an NCAA Regional, which marked the first time in MSU history the softball team made consecutive appearances in NCAA postseason play. State's 2004 Big Ten Tournament sweep - which came in the midst of a 10-5 run to end the season - was largely due to the resiliency of two-time All-America pitcher Jessica Beech, the pitcher of record in 13 of the final 15 games of the season. However, the Spartan bats held their own in the final 15 games, batting .305 with 79 runs scored, 25 doubles and eight home runs during that span. Following the Big Ten Tournament win, MSU went on to defeat Texas A&M, 5-1, before falling to No. 7 Washington, 12-8, in the first two games of the NCAA Regional. State bounced back from its loss to UW with a 13-5 six-inning victory against Massachusetts, but was eliminated from the regional in a 9-1 loss to host Georgia.
As a team, the Spartans raked in postseason honors, while leading the Big Ten in batting for the second consecutive year. Four players were named to All-Big Ten teams, as Jessica Beech and Angel Merren earned first-team honors and Natalie Furrow and Dayna Feenstra were honorable mention selections. Beech earned her second selection as an NFCA All-America honoree, while Furrow and Feenstra were also NFCA All-Region First-Team selections. Brittney Green earned Big Ten Tournament MVP accolades, while Beech, Furrow and Merren were also named to the All-Tournament Team. Green and Elizabeth Peterson were selected to the NCAA Region 8 Team, and Furrow closed out her career as MSU's ninth-ever CoSIDA Academic All-America honoree.
MSU posted 40 wins for the fourth time in school history during the 2003 campaign. In addition, State made its third NCAA Regional run in the previous seven seasons, advanced to the regional final, and picked up its first season sweep of Michigan since the 1981 campaign. The Spartans took third in the Big Ten with a 13-6 mark, improving from a ninth-place finish and 4-16 record in 2002. The team's accomplishments did not go unnoticed, as Joseph earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors, and she and her staff were honored as the Great Lakes Regional Coaching Staff of the Year.
From 1998-2000, Michigan State posted an overall record of 105-66, winning at least 30 games all three seasons. During the 1999 campaign, the Spartans compiled a 41-23 overall record and made their second NCAA Regional appearance in three years. The Spartans advanced to the regional finals before losing to DePaul to end the postseason run. The 1998 season marked the first time in program history that the Spartans won 30 games in three consecutive years. In the three-year span, MSU had two NFCA All-Americans, two All-Great Lakes Region and six All-Big Ten honorees, and three players named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team. Off the field, the accolades were just as impressive, as players earned Academic All-America honors three times and Academic All-Big Ten honors 15 times.
Rebuilding the MSU program would have been a daunting task for most, but Joseph accepted the challenge and quickly reversed its fortunes. She gradually brought MSU back to respectability during her first three seasons, and the result was a record-setting campaign in 1997. The Spartans won a school-record 47 games in 1997 and made their first-ever Big Ten Tournament appearance after finishing third in the Big Ten regular season standings with a 14-9 record. The reward for turning around a program that had gone 258-409-4 in the 14 years prior to her arrival came on May 11, 1997, when the Spartans received the school's first-ever bid to the NCAA Softball Tournament.
In her first season at the helm of the Spartan program in 1994, the energetic and enthusiastic Joseph guided MSU to its most overall wins (19) since the 1989 season. In addition, two of her players earned All-Great Lakes Region honors and three players earned CoSIDA Academic All-District recognition. Joseph's coaching talents were recognized on a national level as well. In June of 1997, she served as co-coach of the West Team at the U.S. Softball Women's National Team Festival in Midland, Mich. Joseph went on to serve as an assistant coach for the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the Pan Am Qualifier in Medellin, Colombia, July 18-26, 1997.
Joseph has helped mold several talented players in her MSU career. In 1996, Patti Raduenz, formerly the head softball coach at Elon University, and Keri Lemasters, currently the head coach at Suffolk University in Boston, each earned NFCA Second-Team All-America honors, the first Spartan players to earn All-America status since 1984. In addition, pitcher Stacey Smith landed a spot on the All-Great Lakes Region Second Team. Raduenz was also lauded for her classroom ability, earning first-team Academic All-America recognition. After completing her final season of eligibility in 1997, Lemasters went on to play for the USA National Team and professionally for the Durham Dragons. Raduenz played four years in the Women's Professional Softball League, while Smith played one season in the pro leagues. In December of 1999, Stacey Phillips was drafted by the Tampa Bay FireStix of the WPSL. In 1998, Phillips earned third-team All-America honors, becoming the third player under Joseph to garner All-American recognition. Phillips was also the head softball coach at Indiana University from 2006-2008.
Prior to accepting the MSU position, the Flint, Mich., native spent five seasons as the head coach at Bowling Green State University. During her tenure, the Falcons compiled a record of 136-133, including a 71-34 mark in her last two seasons. Joseph guided Bowling Green to a 37-16 record and a runner-up finish in the Mid-American Conference in 1992, setting a school record for overall wins.
In 1993, the Falcons finished with a 34-18 record, captured their first MAC title under Joseph and advanced to the NCAA Regional. For her efforts, she was named the MAC Coach of the Year for the first time in her career. In five years at BGSU, Joseph produced four All-Mideast Region honorees, 12 All-Mid-American Conference selections and one CoSIDA Academic All-American. In addition, she coached the Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year in 1992 and `93.
Joseph was an assistant coach at Indiana for one year prior to being named BGSU head coach on Oct. 13, 1988. Before her stint at Indiana, she spent two years as an assistant coach at her alma mater, Central Michigan. While at Indiana, Joseph helped the Hoosiers to a 36-20-1 record and a fourth-place Big Ten finish. In her two years at CMU, she helped guide the Chippewas to back-to-back Mid-American Conference titles.
During her playing career, Joseph led Central Michigan to three MAC titles and three National Tournament appearances. She was a two-time First-Team All-MAC selection. Joseph graduated from Central Michigan in 1985 with a degree in business administration and earned her master's degree from CMU in business in `87. She was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in the fall of 2013 as a member of the school's 1982 team which compiled a 42-9 regular-season record and advanced to the AIAW World Series.
In the fall of 2002, Joseph was enshrined in the Carman-Ainsworth High School Hall of Fame as a member of the 1980 state championship team, and more recently was inducted as an individual in the fall of 2005.
In September of 2002, Joseph started a four-year term as a member of the NCAA softball committee. In December of 1998, she completed her fourth and final year as president of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) after serving as vice president of the NFCA from 1993-94.
The Spartan mentor is a veteran clinician and has authored two books, Defensive Softball Drills and The Baffled Parent's Guide To Coaching Youth Softball, as well as five videos: Drills For Successful Catching, Hitting Mechanics and Drills, Complete Defense for All Positions, Strength & Conditioning and Defensive Softball Drills.
An avid golfer, Joseph resides in Holt and has a daughter, Emma.