Southern Illinois University - Carb

Southern Illinois University Carbondale Carbondale, IL 62901
Division 1 Illinois Midwest
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Kerri Blaylock

The all-time winningest coach in Southern Illinois softball history, Kerri Blaylock enters her 21st season at the helm of the Salukis.


During her tenure, SIU has advanced to the NCAA postseason seven times, which includes being the only program in conference history to make five-straight trips from 2003-07. Southern earned an at-large bid to the 2019 NCAA Tournament, which marked the second time in the last three seasons that the Salukis have advanced to a NCAA Regional.


Blaylock’s Salukis have posted 17 30-win seasons, including four 40-win seasons and a program-best 47 wins in 2005. The 2019 team won 17 conference games, the program’s most since 2005, and posted a winning record in conference play for the 24th-straight season. SIU has compiled a 693-383-1 record under Blaylock and continues to reach new heights.


One of the winningest active Division I coaches in softball today, Blaylock has guided SIU to national prominence throughout her distinguished career. The 2003 team earned SIU’s first-ever NFCA/USA Today Top-25 ranking, and the following season Southern opened and finished the 2004 season ranked in the NFCA Top-25 Coaches poll. All told, SIU has won five conference titles and made eight NCAA Tournament appearances with Blaylock on the staff.


As a head coach, Blaylock has led SIU to four MVC titles with seven NCAA Tournament appearances while producing 98 All-Conference selections. She holds a .671 winning percentage in MVC games (321-157) and has been a member of five MVC Coaching Staffs of the Year. She is the fastest coach in MVC history to reach 500 wins overall and 250 MVC wins. On Feb. 23, 2018, Blaylock became the program’s all-time winningest coach with a 5-4, 10-inning win over UConn.


SIU has led the Valley in team earned run average 11 times since 1993 and have finished in the top-3 in the league in the category in 14 of head coach Kerri Blaylock’s 20 seasons at the helm. Southern led the league in strikeouts for five consecutive years from 1998 to 2002, setting an MVC record with 500 strikeouts in 2000. The Salukis have also produced four Missouri Valley Conference Pitchers of the Year in Erin Stremsterfer (2001), Amy Harre (2005), Cassidy Scoggins (2006) and Danielle Glosson (2010) during that stretch and Blaylock has been on the coaching staff at SIU for 30 no-hitters.


In addition to Southern’s on-field success, Blaylock’s teams have consistently ranked among the nation’s best in the classroom as well. SIU has ranked among the top 20 nationally in team GPA every season since 2001 with seven top-five finishes. The Salukis ranked second nationally for team GPA in both 2007 and 2011. SIU players have earned 89 MVC Scholar-Athlete awards and 12 Academic All-America honors under Blaylock. The Salukis have also tallied 26 Academic All-Americans, second to only Nebraska for the most of any DI softball program. The NCAA began giving out Public Recognition Awards in 2003 for programs in the top-10 percent in their sport in APR over each four-year rolling period. SIU was the first MVC softball program to earn the distinction, and Blaylock’s programs have earned the honor a league-best seven times.


YEAR-BY-YEAR AT SIU

Blaylock took the reins of the program in 2000 after the retirement of Kay Brechtelsbauer, who coached SIU for 32 years. Blaylock served nine seasons as an assistant under Brechtelsbauer, including five as the team's pitching coach.


Saluki softball didn't falter during the transition from Brechtelsbauer to Blaylock. As a first-year head coach in 2000, Blaylock led SIU to a 41-22 record, the first 40-win season since the Salukis went 41-16 in 1997. SIU has finished in the top half the MVC in each of the 16 seasons since.


SIU finished in the top three in the MVC each year from 2001-03 with Blaylock's staff earning MVC Coaching Staff of the Year in both 2002 and 2003. Individually, SIU had the MVC's Rookie of the Year in both 2002 (Amy Harre) and 2003 (Katie Louis). The 2003 Salukis went 39-14 and earned the program's first NCAA Tournament bid since 1991. SIU advanced to the Regional final in the 2003 NCAA Tournament for the program's first-ever Sweet 16 appearance.


Blaylock broke through with her first MVC championship as a head coach in 2004, setting a then-program record for wins with a 45-17 overall record with an 18-6 mark in the Valley. The Salukis followed up by setting a new MVC record for wins in 2005 that still stands today. SIU went 47-14 and set a program record for conference wins with a 24-3 mark in the Valley to win its second-consecutive MVC title. The 2004 and 2005 teams both advanced to the NCAA Tournament and Blaylock's staff also made it four-straight seasons by being named the MVC's Staff of the Year in 2004 and 2005.


SIU earned at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament in both 2006 and 2007, becoming the only program in MVC history to reach five-consecutive NCAA Tournaments. The 2007 squad spent a school-record 13-consecutive weeks ranked in the top 25 nationally, including a program-best No. 18 ranking.


SIU finished third in the MVC in 2008 with Lauren Haas earning the program's first Valley Player of the Year honor since 1997. In 2009, SIU had its best start in school history at 13-1 and went on to finish second in the MVC. The Salukis made it back into the national rankings again in 2009, tying a program-best by elevating as high as No. 18.


The 2010 season saw SIU climb back atop the MVC standings for the third Valley title of the Blaylock era, and the program was rewarded with its fifth MVC Coaching Staff of the Year honor under Blaylock. The Salukis followed up with a pair of 36-win seasons in 2011 and 2012 as Mallory Duran-Sellers became the second MVC Player of the Year under Blaylock in 2012.


The program won 74 games between 2013-15, including a third-place finish in the MVC in the 2014 campaign. Blaylock's 2016 team again led the MVC in ERA and won 33 games, including 15 in league play. The 2016 team swept Illinois State for the first time since 2005 and won the series over Northern Iowa for the first time since 2010.


In 2017, Blaylock led the Salukis to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championship and the seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. Southern posted a 33-24 record with wins over Missouri State, Illinois State and UNI on the way to the conference tournament title. The Salukis faced off against Ole Miss and North Carolina in the Oxford Regional of the NCAA Tournament. Blaylock also recorded her 600th career victory that season in a 4-2 victory over Michigan State.


In 2018, the Herrin, Ill. native led the Salukis to their third-straight 30-win season, and the 16th 30-win season in her 19 seasons as SIU’s skipper. Southern also advanced to the MVC Championship game for the second-straight season and the Salukis led the Missouri Valley Conference in runs, home runs and runs batted in. It marked the first time since 2005 that Southern led the league in round-trippers.


The 2019 season was yet another banner year for the program. SIU reached the 30-win plateau for the 17th time in the last 20 seasons, posted their most conference wins (17) since 2005 and earned the program’s 12th trip to the NCAA Tournament. Southern also posted the third-best fielding percentage in the nation and won a NCAA Regional game for the first time since 2007 with a walk-off win over Detroit Mercy.


BACKGROUND

Blaylock had a stellar playing career in addition to her coaching successes. She was considered one of the top three pitchers in the state as a prep at nearby Herrin High School, according to the Chicago Tribune, compiling a record of 65-7 from 1980-84. She set marks for wins and strikeouts for Herrin High and became the first female athlete ever selected to the Herrin High School Hall of Fame in 1992.


Following her successful prep career, Blaylock attended the University of Evansville, where she developed into one of the Aces' all-time leading hurlers. During her career, she put together a record of 77-48 with a 1.54 ERA and struck out 365 hitters in 857.2 innings of work. Blaylock still holds virtually all of Evansville's pitching records.


Blaylock excelled as a student-athlete both on and off the field at UE. As a junior, she was named a GTE Academic All-American, and in 1988, she was named the Midwestern Collegiate Conference Player of the Year. Evansville recognized Blaylock's success on the diamond by inducting her into the school's Hall of Fame in 1995.


After graduating from Evansville in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in accounting, Blaylock attended Southeast Missouri State University where she began her coaching career as a graduate assistant. She later received a master's degree in 1991 in business administration.

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Jen Sewell

Jen Sewell enters her 12th year at Southern Illinois University and her 10th season as the associate head coach in 2020. Sewell serves as the team’s hitting coach while also working with infield and catchers. Additionally, Sewell works SIU camps and clinics and assists in recruiting and opponent scouting.


The 2019 season was yet another banner year for the Salukis, as they reached the 30-win plateau for the 17th time in the last 20 seasons, posted their most conference wins (17) since 2005 and earned the program’s 12th trip to the NCAA Tournament.


Sewell has transformed SIU into one of the best hitting teams in the MVC. In 2019, the Salukis tied the school record for on-base percentage (.402) and posted both the second-best batting average (.303) and slugging percentage (.458) in program history. Southern led the MVC in batting average, which was its highest since 1994 while its slugging percentage was its best since 2005.


In 2018, the Salukis led the Missouri Valley Conference in runs, home runs and runs batted in and finished second in the league in walks and slugging percentage. It marked the first time since 2005 that Southern led the league in round-trippers while Southern’s second place finish in slugging percentage was it’s highest since 2011. Southern’s Maddy Vermejan led the league in on-base percentage while Katelyn Massa became the fourth Saluki under Sewell to win the league’s RBI crown, and the first to do so since Jayna Spivey in 2013.


During the 2018 offseason, Sewell was named the recipient of the NFCA’s Donna Newberry ‘Perseverance’ award, which recognizes an NFCA member coach who has demonstrated extraordinary strength of will and character in the fight to overcome a physical, mental, or social adversity that presented an additional challenge to the already demanding job of a coach. Sewell’s was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) in 2011 and continues to overcome adversity and help SIU reach new heights.


Sewell’s hitters have earned 19 first-team All-MVC selections, 22 second-team All-MVC honors and 20 MVC All-Tournament Team selections. In 2010, Sewell helped the Salukis win the regular-season MVC championship and was a member of the conference’s Staff of the Year. In 2012, Sewell coached Mallory Duran-Sellers to MVC Most Valuable Player honors after the senior set an MVC record with 61 runs scored and posted a .363 batting average, .502 on-base percentage and .503 slugging percentage. In 2017, Sewell coached the Salukis to the MVC Tournament Championship and Southern advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 11thtime in program history.


The top three RBI producers in SIU history- Shaye Harre, Jayna Spivey and Taylor Orsburn- all thrived with Sewell’s guidance. All three players rank in the top-10 in MVC history for career RBIs. In 2015, Kalyn Harker led the conference with a .466 batting average against league competition and was named first-team All-MVC, first-team Academic All-America, and the MVC’s Dr. Charlotte West Aware recipient, which goes to the female student-athlete in the MVC who best exemplifies excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Southern led the league in on-base percentage for a sixth-straight year in 2014 and scored the second-most runs in the league. The squad broke a program record with 78 doubles on the season, and Spivey earned her fourth-straight All-MVC honor. Shaye Harre earned second-team All-MVC honors after hitting .329 and recording 43 RBIs, second-most among freshmen in SIU history.


In 2013, SIU finished first in the MVC in runs scored with 274 and RBIs with 252. Under Sewell’s direction, Morgan Barchan was named first-team All-Conference after recording 62 hits to tie for first in the Valley, becoming the first-ever Saluki to lead the league in hits. Jayna Spivey was also named a first-team selection after a productive offensive season in which she tied the MVC lead with 44 RBI and ranked second in the league with 38 runs scored.


2012 was a banner year for the Saluki offense as SIU led the league in on-base percentage, runs, hits and walks and ranked second in batting average and RBI. SIU’s 307 runs in 2012 broke a school record and ranks fourth in MVC history. The Salukis’ .290 batting average in 2012 was the program’s best since 1997.


SIU also had a solid year offensively in 2011 under Sewell, finishing second in the league in batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored and RBI. Duran-Sellers posted the third-most hits in SIU history (65), with the fifth-best batting average in school annals (.398) en route to being named an All-MVC First Team selection.


Sewell earned a championship ring in 2010 as the Salukis took the MVC regular season title and finished second at the conference tournament. The SIU coaching staff was recognized that season as the MVC Coaching Staff of the Year. Sewell helped mentor the battery of MVC Pitcher of the Year Danielle Glosson and second-team All-MVC catcher Cristina Trapani. Sewell served as a volunteer assistant during the 2009 season before joining the staff full-time in 2010.


Prior to SIU, Sewell spent five seasons at Kansas (2004-2008), as a hitting and infield coach. During her time on staff, Sewell helped KU win its first-ever Big 12 postseason championship and made back-to-back NCAA Regional appearances. She also guided the Jayhawk defense to a program-best .973 fielding percentage, which ranked 14th in the nation in 2005. That same year, Sewell coached the team to a single-season home run record and single-season fielding percentage record of .973 which ranked No. 14 in the nation. Sewell coached Big 12 Player of the Year and Second Team All-American Serena Settlemier to single-season marks for home runs and slugging percentage while becoming KU’s fastest assistant coach to reach 100 wins.


Sewell got her start as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Princeton for four seasons. During her four seasons at Princeton, Sewell coached seven All-Ivy League selections, an Ivy League Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, as well as a two-time Ivy Pitcher of the Year. During the 2002 season, the Tigers set a program record for single season wins earning Speedline/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Coaching Staff of the Year (Northeast Region). Under Sewell’s direction, Princeton won back-to-back Ivy League championships and made NCAA Tournament appearances in 2002 and 2003.


In addition to her softball background, Sewell was also the co-founder of the Women’s Intersport Network (WIN) of Southern Illinois. She currently serves as president-elect and sits on the board of directors for WIN.

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Kenzi Tate

Kenzi Tate begins her second year as a full-time assistant coach at Southern Illinois University in 2020.


Tate’s first season as a full-time assistant was a banner year for the Salukis, as they reached the 30-win plateau for the 17th time in the last 20 seasons, posted their most conference wins (17) since 2005 and earned the program’s 12th trip to the NCAA Tournament.


Tate came to SIU in 2015 as a graduate assistant with Southern's strength and conditioning staff. After receiving her master's degree in 2017, she joined Blaylock's staff as a volunteer assistant and helped with coaching the team's pitchers while also working with SIU's coaching staff to complete day-to-day practice responsibilities.


A native of Mount Vernon, Ill., Tate played her high school ball at Mount Vernon where she left as the program's all-time leader in most statistical categories including hits (157), doubles (43), home runs (22), RBIs (153), innings pitched (470), shutouts (28), strikeouts (689), wins (57) and ERA (.88). She ultimately chose to play collegiate softball at UT-Martin, where she played first base, third base and pitched from 2012-15.


She started all four years for the Skyhawks and led the Ohio Valley Conference in batting average, home runs and RBIs in 2013 while also going 20-6 as a pitcher. She was a two-time All-OVC selection and helped UT-Martin win both the OVC regular season and tournament titles in 2012.


Tate earned a bachelor's degree in human and health performance from UT-Martin in 2015 and went on to receive her master's of science in education from SIU in 2017.

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