By Gary Lloyd
UAB head softball coach Marla Townsend and her coaching staff were honored last month by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association as the Mideast Coaching Staff of the Year.
Townsend, UAB’s first softball coach and hired in September 1998, is a 1982 Pinson Valley High School graduate.
The award marks the first time in program history the UAB softball team has earned this honor.
Townsend, along with her assistants Lucy Bass and Nick Crawford and volunteer assistant Erica Sisson, led the Blazers to a 40-19 overall record and 19-4 Conference USA record en route to earning the program’s first regular season conference title and first-ever 40-win campaign.
In the NCAA Tournament, UAB advanced to its first Super Regional after claiming the Louisville Regional by posting a 3-1 record.
At the Gainesville Super Regional, the Blazers battled tough with the Florida Gators, but eventually dropped a pair of one-run games to conclude the historic season.
“Obviously, to be selected by my peers is a great honor,” Townsend said. “This award would not be possible without my assistants, who have been great in working with our team. This season was special in so many ways and my assistants were a large part of that.”
In addition, the Blazers sported six players on the Conference USA All-Conference Team, four named NFCA All-Mideast Region performers and Townsend was selected as Conference USA Coach of the Year. She was the conference’s coach of the year in 2002 and 2006 as well. In 2008, she was inducted into the Alabama Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame.
At the conclusion of the 2013 season, UAB finished ranked No. 16 in the USA Today/NFCA poll and No. 29 in the final NCAA RPI, both program bests.
Prior to UAB, Townsend coached two years at Pelham High School and the Classic White Lightning 16-and-under Amateur Softball Association team in 1995 and 1996.
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