Over the past 11 seasons of competitive action, the University of South Alabama softball program has risen from a startup program in 2007 to a perennial mid-major powerhouse, claiming three Sun Belt Conference Tournament titles (2012, ‘13 and ‘15) and advancing to the NCAA Regional final in four of the last five seasons (2012, ‘13, ‘14 and ‘15) under the direction of head coach Becky Clark. The Jaguars have also won at least 40 games or more in four of the last seven seasons.
Clark was named head coach for the Jaguar program in the summer of 2005, prior to the team’s first season in 2007 and during that time, the Jag skipper has steered the program to undeniable competitive success in a short time, in addition to creating a culture that carries over into the classroom.
In her 11 seasons at South Alabama, Clark has amassed an overall record of 381-214-1, while also accumulating a Sun Belt record of 147-99. During her 14 seasons as a head coach, Clark has registered an overall competitive record of 537-247-2 combined at her two coaching stints.
Under Clark’s direction, 45 student-athletes have received all-Sun Belt honors – 18 first-team selections and 27 second-team selections. USA has also had 12 NFCA All-South Region selections and two NFCA Second-Team All-American selections. During that same time, South Alabama has had a SBC Player of the Year selection (Brittany Fowler, 2013), two Freshmen of the Year selections (Haley Fagan, 2013 and Hannah Campbell, 2011) and a SBC Newcomer of the Year selection (Tara Donaldson, 2007).
The Jaguars have also excelled in the classroom under Clark as USA has had 83 student-athletes named to the Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s list, 65 student-athletes earn Sun Belt Conference Academic Honor Roll honors and 74 players named to the NFCA All-America Scholar list, an award given to student-athletes that acquire at least a 3.5 grade-point average or higher during the academic year. The Jags have had at least seven honorees for the annual award since 2007.
Clark started her second decade at the helm with the Jaguars during the 2017 campaign. South Alabama opened up the season by winning 13 of its first 14 contests which tied the 2014 club for the program’s best record after the first 14 games of the season. The solid start continued as the Jags posted a 17-3 mark after the first 20 games which tied with the ‘14 and 2011 squads for the best record after the first 20 games of the season.
Todd continued to elevate herself as one of the top hitters both in the Sun Belt and nationally as she finished the season ranked second in batting average (.398), while her 74 hits were not only second-most by a Jag for a single season and third highest in the league, but also ranked 35th in the NCAA. Todd also ranked among the SBC Top 10 in triples and stolen bases (third), runs scored (seventh) and on-base percentage (10th). Todd earned third-team all-South Region honors from the NFCA.
Once again Devin Brown continued to command the circle as she led the conference in opposing batting average (.184) and fewest runs allowed (44), while her earned run average (1.51) was second-best in the Sun Belt. Brown also ranked fourth in the NCAA with 12 shutouts, and among the national leaders in ERA (30th) and strikeouts (34th). As a staff, South Alabama was third in the SBC and 33rd in the NCAA in ERA at 2.31. Brown also earned Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week accolades four times, tossed her fourth-career no-hitter versus Tennessee Tech and became just the second Jaguar pitcher to eclipse the 700-strikeout mark.
Both Brown and Todd were rewarded for their play as the duo was named first-team all-Sun Belt. Kristian Foster, Amanda Minahan and Destin Vicknair were also named all-league second team.
Following the season, Brown and Todd (Tuscaloosa site) and Haleigh Lowe and MC Nichols (Auburn site) were selected to participate on two all-star teams from the state of Alabama against the USA Softball National team.
During the 2016 season, South Alabama ranked second in the conference in batting average (.294) and on-base percentage (.389), and were led at the plate by the all-conference duo of Emily Messer and Todd. Messer (.429) and Todd (.415) each earned first-team all-league accolades after ranking second and third, respectively, in the conference in batting. Stephanie Pilkington, Haleigh Lane and Lowe also earned second-team all-SBC honors in the field during the season.
In the circle, the Jaguar pitching staff again was stellar as South Alabama led the Sun Belt in opponent’s batting average (.204), hits allowed (256) and batters struck out looking (120), while ranking second in earned-run average (2.12), strikeouts (427) and runs allowed (128). As a staff, USA also ranked 14th in the NCAA in ERA that same season.
Brown continued to develop as one of the top pitchers in the conference in ‘16. Brown – a five-time SBC Pitcher of the Week selection during the season – tied for the league lead in ERA (1.66), while her .165 opponent’s batting average was also a top mark in the Sun Belt. Brown recorded three no-hitters during her sophomore season, including the just the third perfect game in program history against ULM (3/20/16). For her gem in the circle, Brown was named the Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Co-Pitcher of the Week.
Brown also ranked among the top 25 nationally in several categories in 2016 – strikeouts per 7 innings (second, 11.0), shutouts (third, 11), strikeouts (fourth, 324), hits allowed per 7 innings (11th, 4.13) and ERA (23rd, 1.66). Following the season, Brown was named first-team all-Sun Belt and along with Messer, was a second-team all-South Region for her efforts.
Messer became the first Jaguar position player to be drafted as she was the 31st player selected in the 2016 National Pro Fastpitch Draft by the Akron Racers, capping off a season in which she set single-season marks in hits (76) and batting average. The 17 Sun Belt wins by the Jaguars during the ‘16 season were also a new school record.
South Alabama posted a its fourth-straight 40-win season during the ‘15 campaign, finishing with a 40-13 overall mark and a 16-4 record in league play. USA finished the season ranked 23rd in the final USA Today/NFCA top 25 poll. After finishing second during the regular season, South Alabama entered the SBC tournament as the second seed and battled back from the loser’s bracket to win the program’s third conference tournament title, defeating 10th-ranked Louisiana 2-0 in the championship game. Kaitlyn Griffith was selected as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
With the tournament championship, South Alabama made its fourth NCAA Regional appearance in Auburn, Ala., where the Jaguars advanced to their fourth-straight regional final against the Tigers, who eventually advanced to the College World Series.
Kalen McGill and Chloe Rathburn earned first-team all-Sun Belt honors, while Griffith, Farish Beard, Minahan and Pilkington were named to the league’s second team. Griffith also became the program’s single-season home run leader in 2015 as she registered 13 homers. Beard was also selected as the 33rd overall pick by the Dallas Charge in the NPF Draft at the conclusion of her career.
In 2014, the USA pitching staff, led by former standouts Campbell and Beard, secured the NCAA ERA title for the first time ever as the Jaguars posted an ERA of 1.29. South Alabama also ranked nationally in fielding percentage (seventh, .976) slugging percentage (24th, .492).
South Alabama finished the season with a 42-14 overall record and a 15-6 conference mark, advancing the SBC tournament championship game. USA also made its third-straight NCAA Regional appearance, advancing to the final against Alabama.
The Jaguars climbed as high as 11th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll that season and as high as 12th in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll. The Jags would go on to end the year ranked 23rd in both polls.
Campbell, now an assistant on the Jaguar staff, became the first South Alabama female student-athlete to be selected in a professional draft when she was selected third overall in the 2014 NPF Draft by the Akron Racers. Campbell also earned NFCA All-American honors for the second-straight season.
The 2013 season will go down as one of the most memorable one to date in program history as USA won a single-season record 48 games and hosted its first-ever NCAA Regional after repeating as SBC Tournament champs after sweeping through the league tournament. As it did for most of the season, the Jags rode its pitching staff throughout the postseason as they allowed just one run in the opening game and then recorded three-straight shutouts en route to their second conference title.
Behind the pitching of Campbell and Beard, South Alabama finished third in the NCAA with an ERA of 1.43.
South Alabama also had a program-record eight all-SBC selections, including six first-team selections. Fowler (Player of the Year) and Fagan (Freshman of the Year) picked up individual league accolades during the season and Campbell was named the conference tournament’s Most Outstanding Player for the second-consecutive year.
Clark and her staff were also honored for their efforts as they were selected as the 2013 NFCA South Region Coaching Staff of the Year after helping the program end the season ranked 17th in the final USA Today/NFCA poll and 18th in the final ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.
Under Clark’s direction, South Alabama posted the program’s first 40-win season during the 2012 campaign, finishing the season with a 41-17 overall record and a 17-7 mark in Sun Belt action. USA also swept through the SBC Championships, capping off its tournament run with a thrilling 3-1 victory over top-seeded and sixth-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette to earn the program’s first conference championship. Campbell was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after allowing just one run in 22.0 innings of work.
The Jaguars would go on to make their first NCAA Regional appearance advancing to the regional final before falling to regional host and eventual national champion Alabama.
In 2011, the turnaround for Clark and the Jags began as USA finished with a 37-17 overall record – the program’s first winning record since the inaugural season – and a semifinal appearance at the SBC Tournament. For her efforts, Clark was named the SBC Coach of the Year.
Outfielder Evelyne Pare became the first Jag to earn both first-team all-SBC and Louisville Slugger/NFCA second-team all-South Region honors in 2008.
Clark began laying the foundation for her program from the outset as her first club finished with a 36-23 record and a fifth-place finish in the Sun Belt after being picked to finish ninth in the preseason poll. Tara Donaldson was also named the Sun Belt’s Co-Newcomer of the Year that spring as four players were also selected second-team all-SBC.
Clark came to South Alabama in the summer of 2005 after three stellar seasons at the University of Mobile. In her final season with the Rams, Clark led the 2005 team to a 51-13 record and its second-consecutive fourth-place finish at the NAIA National Tournament. In her three seasons with the Rams registered an outstanding 156-33-1 record and three national tournament appearances, including a national runner-up finish in 2003. She also led Mobile to three consecutive GCAC Tournament championships.
While at Mobile, Clark coached two Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Players of the Year, three GCAC Pitchers of the Year, six NAIA first-team All-Americans, six second-team All-Americans and three honorable mention All-Americans.
Prior to joining the head coaching ranks, Clark had stops at the University of Mobile (1994-99), The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, Calif. (2000) and Okaloosa-Walton (Fla.) Community College (2001-02). While an assistant at Mobile in 1998, Clark was also a member of the NAIA Regional Coaching Staff of the Year.
Clark began her collegiate playing career at Troy in 1990-91 before transferring to Mobile, where she played three seasons before graduating cum laude in 1995 with a B.A. in English and a minor in marketing. In 1999, she earned an M.A. in education from Mobile, graduating with a 4.0 GPA. As a player, Clark was twice named an Academic All-American while with the Rams garnering the honor in 1993 and 1994.