2015 ACC Coach of the Year
Heading into her eighth season as the head coach of the Florida State softball program, Lonni Alameda has guided the Seminoles back into one of the nation’s best teams. After seven Women’s College World Series appearances from 1987-2004, the Seminoles returned to the final site of women’s collegiate softball in 2014 and also earned back-to-back ACC Championships in 2014 and 2015 as FSU now owns 13 conference titles.
FSU has played in the NCAA postseason every year under Alameda, and is one of only nine schools to participate in the NCAA Tournament in every season since 2000. Since Alameda has made Tallahassee her home, she has led the Seminoles to six ACC Championship game appearances in seven seasons, with titles in 2011, 2014 and 2015.
The Seminoles reached the NCAA Super Regionals for the third consecutive season in 2015, finishing with a record of 49-14 and a No. 10 ranking in the final poll by the NFCA. FSU earned a trio of conference awards as Jessica Warren was named ACC Freshman of the Year, Lacey Waldrop secured ACC Pitcher of the Year honors for the second-straight season and Alameda was chosen as the ACC Coach of the Year for the third consecutive year.
The Noles earned 11 wins against ranked opponents in 2015 and have 37 ranked wins overall in Alameda’s seven seasons at the helm of FSU. Several Seminoles etched their name into the NCAA record book as senior Maddie O’Brien led the nation with 73 walks, good for No. 11 all-time in NCAA history. Freshman Morgan Klaevemann’s 26-game hitting streak is the second-longest in FSU history and ranks No. 24 overall in NCAA history.
Florida State posted its best season in a decade with a 55-9 record in 2014 to finish ranked No. 7 in the country by both the NFCA and USA Softball. The Seminoles won 24 ACC games to set a new school and ACC mark for conference wins in a season and also set program records in runs scored (400), home runs (65), extra base hits (168), RBI (363), walks (318) and slugging percentage (.493).
Several individuals earned regional and national awards as junior pitcher Lacey Waldrop was named USA Softball National Player of the Year. Waldrop joined Jessica van der Linden (2004) as Seminoles to win the national honor. Florida State is the only school in the country to have multiple players win the award. Waldrop joined junior shortstop Maddie O’Brien as an NFCA First Team All-American, marking the first time that FSU had placed two players on the first team in program history.
Waldrop and O’Brien also won 2014 ACC Pitcher and Player of the Year, respectively, while Alameda earned ACC Coach of the Year honors for the second year in a row. The Seminoles placed three players on the All-Region First Team, six players on the All-ACC Team, and five members on the ACC All-Tournament Team.
The signature win of the 2014 season came at the Tallahassee Super Regional, when senior Courtney Senas hit a two-run, walk-off home run against No. 13 Michigan to send the Seminoles to the Women’s College World Series for the first time since 2004.
It was an impressive season in 2013 for the Seminoles as they fought through several injuries to key players yet reached the NCAA Super Regionals for the first time since 2006 following a miraculous comeback against South Alabama in the Mobile Regional championship game. The five-run comeback with two outs in the top of the seventh against the 13th-seeded Jaguars personified the team’s never-say-die attitude. FSU finished with a 44-19 record and Alameda was named the ACC Coach of the Year, along with a school-record four All-ACC First Team selections and five overall.
The Seminoles set a new school mark with an 18-2 record in ACC play en route to the program’s 11th ACC regular season title. As the pitching coach, Alameda was influential on one of the most dynamic duos in the nation in Lacey Waldrop and Monica Perry. Waldrop earned NFCA Third-Team All-America honors, the first at Florida State since 2009, while Perry emerged as the most dominant pitcher in ACC play.
Aside from the five total All-ACC Team members in 2013, Alameda coached her first ACC Scholar Athlete of the Year when Kelly Hensley was recognized for the honor. Hensley also was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Third Team.
In 2012, the Seminoles achieved a mark of 47-16, their most wins since going 62-12 in 2004. Alameda led FSU to a 15-13 record against NCAA postseason teams throughout the year, which included nationally-ranked victories over No. 14 UCLA, No. 23 North Carolina twice and Women’s College World Series participant LSU.
As the team’s pitching coach, Alameda’s influence on FSU starters Lacey Waldrop and Monica Perry was enormous. Both pitchers finished in the Top 30 nationally in earned run average, making FSU one of just five programs to have multiple pitchers in the top 30. Each hurler earned ACC Pitcher of the Week honors twice, and were named to the All-ACC squad. As a unit, the Seminoles finished 10th in the country with a 1.53 team ERA. In 2012, four more student-athletes made the All-ACC Team under Alameda’s watch including Tiffani Brown, Briana Hamilton, Perry and Waldrop. Brown and Shayla Jackson also were named to the NFCA All-Southeast Region Second Team.
In just her third season as head coach at Florida State, Alameda helped the Seminole softball program snap a seven-year ACC title drought to highlight an entertaining 2011 season. Despite making the conference tournament in Atlanta as the No. 4 seed, it was Alameda’s season-long coaching tactics combined with the energy of her motivated group that enabled the Seminoles to storm through the competition and defeat second-seeded North Carolina, 4-1, to clinch an automatic NCAA Regional bid.
Under Alameda’s guidance, the 2011 Seminoles created a noteworthy program achievement - for the first time in school history, FSU softball reached 12 consecutive NCAA Regionals. Her group also won two games in the Athens Regional, defeating Georgia State and UAB, to get to the final day of a regional for the first time since 2006.
Adding to Alameda’s on and off-field influence, Sarah Hamilton became just one of two conference players in 2011 to be named to the All-ACC Team for the third time in her career. Shayla Jackson and Jen Lapicki joined Hamilton on the 2011 all-conference squad. Hamilton ended her illustrious career as one of the best pitchers in school history, with Alameda playing a large role in her success. Among her noteworthy feats, Hamilton became the first hurler in FSU history to finish with at least 1,000 career strikeouts, ending her four-year stay with 1,005 Ks.
In her second season as FSU head coach in 2010, Alameda led the Seminoles to a 44-18 record and second-consecutive appearance in not just the ACC Championship game but its 11th-straight appearance in the NCAA Division I Softball Championship. At the time, FSU’s ACC Championship game appearance marked the 14th time in school history it had the chance to play for a title - a total number that is more than any other school in the conference.
Under Alameda’s tutelage, the 2010 Seminoles accomplished a lot of statistical feats. Not only did FSU get off to its best start since 1993 by starting the year 20-2, but the team capped off the year with high marks in a bevy of categories. The Seminoles’ .297 batting average was the best since 2003 and their 226 strikeouts at the plate were the fewest since the 1998 campaign.
Individually, Alameda coached several FSU student-athletes who earned recognition for their hard work on the field and in the classroom. Carly Wynn was named an All-ACC First Team selection and Terese Gober, Sarah Hamilton and Ashley Stager were each placed on the All-ACC Second Team. Robin Ahrberg, Tiffani Brown and Hamilton each got the nod on the ACC’s All-Tournament team. Wynn and Hamilton captured Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-Southeast Region Second Team honors, while Wynn was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Third Team.
Alameda came to Florida State prior to the 2009 season and went on to surpass 200 career coaching victories in her first year in Tallahassee (she picked up win No. 300 on March 17, 2012 against Fairfield and added win No. 400 at North Carolina on March 30, 2014). The Seminoles finished the 2009 campaign with a 44-16 record and achieved the best conference record in school history at the time with a 17-4 league mark.
For her team’s exploits on the field in 2009, Alameda and the Seminoles had the opportunity to host a regional in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2004 season. Alameda coached several Seminoles that garnered postseason awards as Hamilton was named a Third Team Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-American as a sophomore. Hamilton was also named ACC Pitcher of the Year, an ACC First Team member and to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-Southeast Region Team. Then-senior catcher Kaleigh Rafter was also named to the All-Region team and was an All-ACC First Team member as well. Wynn and Gober (both second team) were also student-athletes coached by Alameda who were recognized as All-ACC players.
Alameda carries an impressive coaching résumé on the international level and from 2004 to 2008 helped in the development of Canada’s National Team. She aided Canada up until the 2004 Summer Olympics and resumed as an assistant following the Rebels’ 2005 season. In the summer of 2006, Canada qualified for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, after its strong showing in the World Championships. Alameda spent the summer of 2008 with the Canadian team which ended its quest for the gold with a fourth-place finish at the Beijing Olympic Games.
Alameda came to FSU from UNLV, where she spent five seasons reviving the Rebels’ program. She replaced Dr. JoAnne Graf, who retired after 30 seasons with the Seminoles.
Alameda went 25-35 in her first season at UNLV in 2004, which was a four-game improvement over 2003’s final tally. She then posted a staggering 44-19 mark in 2005 and the program’s first trip to NCAA Regionals since 1996. Alameda was named Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year in 2005 and the entire staff garnered NFCA West Regional Coaching Staff of the Year honors.
The 2005 season featured an assault on the program’s record book, appearances in the national statistical rankings and the introduction of several conference and national award winners. The 44 wins were the third-most in the program’s history, while the 17 Mountain West Conference wins were the most-ever since joining the league in 1999. After being predicted to finish last in the league, UNLV excelled, placing second in the league in both the regular season and Mountain West Conference tournament.
In 2006, the squad was set back by injuries and fell to 26-37, but saw a 180-degree turnaround in 2007 and finished with a 37-27 mark as Alameda earned MWC Coach of the Year honors for the second time.
Alameda and UNLV had high hopes for 2008 and had the Rebels ranked in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll for the first time in program history. After starting the season 9-1-1, UNLV moved up to No. 18 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll, but injuries to four starters proved costly as the season progressed.
Under Alameda’s direction, the Rebels enjoyed recognition at the conference and regional level. Five Rebels garnered Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-Regional honors while 13 players earned all-Mountain West Conference accolades, including two pitchers of the year and one freshman of the year awards.
To Alameda, academics are just as important as on-the-field production. Since taking over the program, the Rebels had 58 Academic All-MWC honorees. Over that time span, the team had 10 or more honored in a season four times, including 11 softball student-athletes in 2008. The softball program had 21 MWC Scholar-Athletes selected, as well.
In her seven seasons at Florida State, Alameda’s academic priorities have been apparent. She has coached one ACC Scholar Athlete of the Year, two academic All-Americans, four NCAA postgraduate scholarship award winners, 11 academic all-district team members and 27 All-ACC Academic Team players.
During her tenure at UNLV, Alameda also stressed the importance of community service and had players volunteer their time at the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation and Child Haven while participating in breast cancer walks and blood drives. Her emphasis has not changed since arriving at FSU, with the 2011 Seminole Squad earning honors such as the SemiGnome Award for community service and routinely producing standout student-athletes who are honored for their charitable ways. One of those players was Kelly Hensley who was awarded a 2013 Top Six For Service honor. In 2014, the Seminole softball program earned the FSU Director’s Cup for Service as they averaged 35.96 hours of community service per student-athlete to lead all 20 FSU varsity sports.
Alameda moved to Las Vegas after eight seasons as the assistant coach at Stanford University, where she helped guide the Cardinal to a 320-179-1 record and six straight NCAA Regional appearances. She oversaw the pitching staff there and produced three All-Americans: Becky Blevins, Marcy Crouch and Dana Sorenson.
Prior to her stint at Stanford, Alameda spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Barry University (Miami Shores, Fla.). She helped the Buccaneers to a fifth-place NCAA Division II finish in her first year. She also spent some time on the international stage, serving as an instructor for both the Aruba (1995) and Spanish (2000) national teams.
An all-around great athlete, Alameda began her collegiate career as a pitcher at St. Mary’s University (San Antonio, Texas) where she led the Rattlers to the NAIA Tournament in her only season. She later transferred to Oklahoma in 1989 and played softball and volleyball for the Sooners. She was a two-time All-Big Eight selection as a first and third baseman, while hitting .359 as a senior in 1992.
Alameda earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Oklahoma in 1993 and played softball professionally in Europe for a season before beginning her coaching career.