Since taking over the job as head coach for Miami's softball team five years ago, Kelly Kovach Schoenly has transformed the team into a Mid-American Conference powerhouse and a strong contender in the Midwest region. Coming into her sixth season, Schoenly is ready to take the RedHawks to the top.
Having already established herself as the second winningest softball coach in Miami history, Schoenly has a career record of 147-132-1. She has led the team to three consecutive 30+ win seasons, the first time that has been done in school history. Under Schoenly's leadership, the RedHawks have a Mid-American Conference record of 67-43, have had 13 players earn a total of 22 All-MAC honors and had three players earn All-Region honors. She saw Meghan Mawn win the 2008 MAC Freshman of the Year award and Jessica Simpson win the 2011 MAC Pitcher of the Year award. Schoenly also saw Simpson win the 2009 MAC Tournament MVP award, led Miami to the 2009 MAC Tournament Championship and led the RedHawks to their first NCAA Tournament victory, a 5-4 win over Cleveland State on May 16, 2009.
"Miami offers the whole package to its softball student-athletes," said Schoenly. "With a $4 million stadium to play in every day and a supportive environment from the entire community, the athletic department administration has shown a tremendous level of commitment to helping us win championships and graduate our athletes. This school has the academic reputation that can be matched by few and an athletic environment where student-athletes can thrive. The best part about the program, however, is the young ladies that have chosen to be RedHawks. We have dedicated, highly motivated, quality character young women that make this program what it is."
This past season, Schoenly took the RedHawks to a 32-22 overall record, with a 13-9 MAC record. Miami took the second place spot in the MAC East Division for the third year in a row. The RedHawks advanced to the semifinals of the MAC Tournament, going 2-2 with wins over Northern Illinois and Ball State. Simpson was the first pitcher in Miami history to earn MAC Pitcher of the Year honors, finishing 27-15 with a 1.60 ERA. Her wins and 317 strikeouts were single-season records for the Red and White. Four players earned All-MAC honors for Miami with Simpson on the First Team, Kat Russette and Daniea Torres on the Second Team and Kirstie Fehrenbach on the All-Freshmen team.
Last season, Schoenly's 2010 RedHawks went 33-24 overall and 14-8 in the MAC. Miami finished second in the MAC East Division and third overall in the conference. With the three seed, Miami was able to advance to the semifinals of the MAC Tournament, going 2-2 with wins over Buffalo and Central Michigan. Five players earned All-MAC honors for the RedHawks, led by seniors Sarah Billstrom, Meghan Mawn and Meredith Linch on the First Team. Jessica Simpson and Daniela Torres were named to the Second Team, while Alica Hogl took home the Nan Harvey Sportsmanship Award. Schoenly emphasized the run game during the 2010 season and Miami responded with a school record 69 steals.
Coach Schoenly's 2009 RedHawks were 33-24 overall and 13-9 in the MAC, finishing second in the MAC East Division. It was the first winning record for Miami since the 2005 season. With the fourth seed in the MAC Tournament, Schoenly led the RedHawks to four victories in four days, capping off the school's second championship all-time with a 1-0 victory over Western Michigan in the finale. The team had five players named to all-conference teams, the second most in school history. She also helped freshman pitcher Jessica Simpson to a 24-12 record with 10 shutouts. The 24 wins and 10 shutouts are the second-most in a single-season by a RedHawk pitcher.
Schoenly's 2008 RedHawks finished third in the MAC East Division and earned the fourth seed in the conference tournament for the second consecutive season. The team set a school record by having six players named to the all-conference teams, the most in the MAC. She helped lead senior Breanna Robinson to school records in home runs (11) and RBI (51) as well as mentoring Halle Popson to the highest career batting average in school history (.351).
Her 2007 RedHawks also finished third in the MAC East Division, earning a berth in the conference tournament. Her first MU squad finished strong down the stretch, winning 12 of its last 16 games, including a two-game sweep of tournament champion Eastern Michigan. Those RedHawks set four program records, including hits (423) and runs-batted-in (191).
After spending eight seasons as an assistant coach at Penn State, Schoenly was tabbed as the eighth head coach in Miami softball history on June 29, 2006. Schoenly helped guide the Nittany Lions to seven Big Ten Tournament appearances and six NCAA Tournament berths.
As a veteran of the Big Ten with 11 seasons of assistant coaching experience, Schoenly guided one of the nation's best pitching staffs in 2006, as the Nittany Lions finished the season ranked 12th nationally in ERA (1.36) and limited their opponents to 74 earned runs in 380.2 innings. During her eight-year tenure (1998-2006), Schoenly helped Penn State to seven 30-win seasons, including a program-record 39 wins in 2006. Schoenly also produced two All-America pitchers, including 2005 National Fastpitch Coaches Association Third-Team honoree Ashley Esparza and 2006 Second-Team All-Great Lakes Region pitcher Missy Beseres, the first Nittany Lion ever drafted to play professional softball.
Prior to Penn State, Schoenly was an assistant coach at Michigan for three seasons (1995-98). During her stint in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines won two Big Ten regular-season titles, three Big Ten Tournament titles, three NCAA Regional Championships and made three trips to the NCAA Women's College World Series. In addition to being honored as part of the NFCA Great Lakes Coaching Staff of the Year in 1998, Schoenly coached one All-America pitcher, three conference pitchers of the year and six all-conference selections.
During her collegiate pitching career at Michigan (1991-95), Schoenly earned numerous conference and national awards, including 1995 NFCA First-Team All-America plaudits. A two-time Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and three-time all-conference selection, Schoenly was a member of three Big Ten Conference Championship teams and played on the 1995 squad, which finished seventh at the NCAA Women's College World Series.
A two-time GTE Academic All-American, Schoenly received her bachelor's degree in elementary education from Michigan in December of 1995. After receiving the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, Schoenly went on to earn her master's degree in elementary mathematics education from Michigan in May of 1998.
Schoenly has been married to her husband Doug since October 2001; he is a Penn State alumnus and tennis professional. The Schoenlys have an eight-year old daughter, Danielle.
Former Players on Kelly Kovach Schoenly:
Breanna Robinson (2004-08): "Coach K not only took a vested interest in my skill development as a student-athlete, but my academic and intellectual development. She encouraged me to dig deeper and give more at times when I thought there was no more to give, which challenged me mentally and helped build character. I am thrilled to have gotten the opportunity to play for Coach K and am confident the Miami softball program will continue to excel under her guidance!"
Halle Popson (2004-08): "Coach Schoenly's ability to translate a fierce competitive spirit while staying true to her values in family, unity, and tradition defines her leadership style. Playing for yourself, your teammates, and the name across your chest were principles of Coach K's approach; but even more impressive was her inadvertent capacity to make me as a player strive to represent, to perform, and to win- FOR HER. Coupling legitimate skill with respect and awareness, Coach Schoenly develops her players, her staff and herself towards fulfilling what it means to play `FOR THE LOVE AND HONOR. ` She cultivates champions between the lines, professionals in the classroom and empowered women in the community. I am privileged to have played under her fortitude."
Leslie Macedo (2003-07): "As graduation approached, I was ready and prepared for life beyond the softball field. Coach K and her staff have created a supportive and nurturing family environment, while pushing student-athletes to pursue each goal on and off the field. This coaching staff made my senior year one that I will always remember and cherish. "