From staff reports
BIRMINGHAM — UAB Director of Athletics Mark Ingram announced the promotion of head softball coach Marla Townsend as Senior Associate Athletics Director for Strategic Initiatives and Engagement.
The 1982 Pinson Valley graduate had led the Blazers to more than 500 wins as their only coach in the school’s softball history. Now she takes on a new challenge for UAB.
“Marla has been an instrumental figure at UAB for almost two decades and her new role will enhance our Department of Athletics,” Ingram said. “The passion she has demonstrated as our head softball coach has been unmatched and we look forward to that energy and enthusiasm as a member of Senior Staff.”
Former player and current assistant coach Amanda Ellis will serve as the interim head coach for the upcoming 2017-18 season.
“This is an incredible opportunity to work with all of the athletic programs here at UAB,” Townsend said. “Softball will always be near and dear to my heart but I am excited for this new role and for the bright future we have here at UAB.
“Amanda was a player here and came back as an assistant coach so she knows our core values and I know she will continue to build upon the foundation of the softball program and take it to new heights.”
Townsend went 532-507 in 18 seasons as the UAB softball coach with appearances in five straight NCAA Tournaments from 2010-14. The only head coach in Blazer softball history, she led UAB to its first NCAA Regional title in 2013 after upsetting fifth-seeded UCLA.
UAB went 40-19 on its way to winning the Conference USA regular season championship under her guidance in 2013. Townsend has named the Conference USA Coach of the Year three times in 2002, 2006 and 2013.
In 2008 she was inducted into the Alabama Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame.
Hired by coach Gene Bartow in 1998, Townsend had nine 30-plus win seasons with six straight-seasons of 30 or more wins from 2010-15.
After graduating from PVHS, she earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama in 1986. Townsend earned a master’s degree from UAB in 1991. Townsend also earned an Education Specialist Degree from Montevallo in 1998. She has one daughter, Maia, and one son, Luke.
UAB was not Townsend’s first head coaching position. Prior to becoming a member of the Blazer family, Townsend was the head coach of the Classic White Lightning 16-and-under Amateur Softball Association team in both 1995 and 1996. The club won the ASA regional title and the state championship in both seasons.
Townsend also spent two seasons as the head coach at Pelham High School where she compiled a stellar 77-34 overall record. In 1998, Pelham finished fifth in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A Tournament and was tabbed as the No. 1-ranked team in Class 6A by The Birmingham News. Also in 1998, Townsend served as the head coach of the North team during the AHSAA Alabama All-Star week and her team impressively blanked the South squad in both games, 9-0 and 7-0.
Townsend is a two-time recipient of the Jefferson County Softball Coach of the Year award, was named the Shelby County Softball Coach of the Year and has also garnered high accolades as a player. Townsend earned First-Team All-America recognition in both fastpitch and slowpitch competition in 1992 and was a valuable outfielder on several national championship slowpitch teams.