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Brown named head coach of Longwood softball team

After a national search, Longwood University Athletics Director Michelle Meadows has named Dr. Megan Brown the new head coach of Longwood softball, selecting the coaching veteran and pitching specialist to lead the Lancers’ program following coaching legend Kathy Riley’s retirement in late June.

Brown’s coaching resume includes time in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference (SEC), along with extensive playing credentials that include a record-setting All-American career at Florida Southern College and six years on the professional softball circuit at home and abroad.

During that time, she has coached under and played for some of the most decorated head coaches in college softball, including National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Hall-of-Famers Diane Ninemire at University of California and Karen Mullins at University of Connecticut, SEC Coach of the Year Tina Deese at Auburn University, and 1,200-game winner and NFCA Hall-of-Famer Chris Bellotto at Florida Southern.

Megan Brown

Most recently Brown served as an assistant coach at Pac-12 member Cal (2020) and ACC member Boston College (2016-19), with prior stints at University of Akron (2015), UConn (2014), University of North Carolina at Pembroke (2012-13) and Auburn (2010-11).

She has also coached at the highest level of international fastpitch softball, serving as pitching coach and guest player for the Great Britain Women’s National Team from 2011-14.

“We are thrilled to introduce Dr. Megan Brown as the next head coach of Longwood softball,” Meadows, who also serves on the NCAA Division I Softball Selection Committee, said.

“With the long history of success our softball program enjoyed under Coach Riley, it’s no surprise that this was a very competitive search. Megan rose to the top of the field because of her competitive drive for empowering and developing women through softball, her incredible knowledge of the game and teaching acumen, and her vision to build on our program’s remarkable run of success. Megan embodies the values and principles that this storied program has been built upon, and we’re excited to see her continue that legacy.”

At Longwood, Brown will take over one of the most dominant dynasties in Big South Conference history. Under Riley, who won 722 games in 23 years at Longwood and 812 in 27 years at the college level, Longwood softball has won five of the past seven Big South championships, reached five NCAA Regionals and twice advanced to the NCAA Regional Championship game.

“I am truly humbled and grateful for the opportunity to be the next head coach at Longwood University,” Brown, a native of Carrollton, Georgia, said.

She is a two-time Academic All-American who holds a Ph.D. in kinesiology from Auburn and a Master of Education from Florida Southern.

“I would like to thank Michelle Meadows, the athletics department executive cabinet and the entire Longwood community for this opportunity,” she said. “Longwood University has an impeccable history of great softball, and this only happens when you have great players, coaches, alumni, fans and supporters from all areas of campus and beyond. I feel truly blessed to be here and have nothing but excitement for this next chapter in the storied history of Longwood softball.”

Brown will step into her new role armed with a longstanding history of pitching success, which has been the hallmark of her career both as a player and coach. That trend has followed her from the standout collegiate career that landed her in the Sunshine State Conference Hall of Fame, Florida Southern Hall of Fame and the NCAA record books, to her beginnings in the coaching industry as a volunteer assistant at Auburn and her most recent stints with two different high-major programs.

Throughout her coaching career, she has worked under some of the best to ever coach at the collegiate level, including most recently under 1,355-game winner Ninemire at Cal in 2020. With the Golden Bears, Brown worked under Ninemire in the Cal coaching legend’s 33rd and final season before retirement, helping Ninemire cap a career that saw her finish at No. 9 on the all-time Division I wins leaderboard.

“I have the utmost respect for Dr. Brown, who possesses some of the best coaching and teaching skills of anyone I’ve worked with,” Ninemire, who took Cal to 30 NCAA Regionals, 15 Super Regionals and 11 Women’s College World Series from 1988-2020, said. “Her knowledge and her overall talent will help the Longwood softball program continue to strive for excellence in the classroom and continue a winning tradition on the field.”

Ninemire’s fellow NFCA Hall-of-Famer Cindy Bristow, currently assistant coach at University of California, Riverside, also expressed significant confidence in Brown.

“Longwood has hit the jackpot hiring Megan Brown,” Bristow said. “She’s the next coaching star in our sport!”

Prior to Brown’s COVID-shortened stint as pitching coach at Cal in 2020, she was the top assistant at Boston College from 2016-19 and transformed the Eagle pitching staff into one of the best in the ACC.

Under her tutelage, Boston College’s pitchers ranked second in the conference in ERA in 2017 behind only top-10 power Florida State University; ranked among the league’s top four in opponent batting average and strikeouts three consecutive years, from 2016-18; and led the league in strikeouts looking in both 2016 and 2017. Leading that charge were Brown’s pupils Jessica Dreswick and Allyson Frei, two NFCA All-Region pitchers who left their names littered throughout the school’s record books. Among a wealth of school records, Dreswick set the program’s single-season wins record and threw the school’s first no-hitter of the ACC era under Brown.

That dominance in the circle propelled Boston College to the upper tier of the ACC, finishing in the top four of the league standings three consecutive years, from 2016-18. The Eagles reached 30 overall wins and double-digit ACC victories in each of those seasons, leading to the program’s winningest three-year run of its ACC era.

That five-year stretch at Cal and Boston College followed two years in which Brown held assistant coach positions at Mid-American Conference member Akron in 2015 and American Conference member Connecticut in 2014.

At Akron, she oversaw the development of one of the best pitchers to ever come through the program in Erin Seiler. Seiler set Akron’s single-season strikeout record with 305 that year, her highest total in a four-year career that ended with her atop the program leaderboards in career wins, complete games and strikeouts.

Meanwhile at UConn, Brown learned under NFCA Hall of Fame inductee and 862-game winner Coach Mullins in the last of her 31 seasons leading the Huskies program.

Prior to her return to the Division I level at UConn, Brown cut her teeth in the college coaching ranks at Division II UNC Pembroke in 2012-13 and at SEC power Auburn in 2010 and 2011.

At Auburn, she worked toward her doctorate degree while serving the Tiger program as a student manager in 2010 and a volunteer assistant coach in 2011, helping the program reach two of its nine NCAA Tournaments under Coach Deese. Brown also continued her professional playing career while at Auburn, playing the latter half of both springs in the Italian Softball League.

Brown’s wealth of coaching accolades followed a playing career that remains among the best in the history of NCAA Division II softball.

She was a three-time All-American and four-year ace of a Florida Southern team that finished No. 2, No.3 and No. 4 in the NCAA Division II College World Series from 2004-07 and amassed a four-year record of 200-42. Brown won a school-record 124 of those games with a career ERA of 0.69, two of the 11 school records she still holds. Also among those are 58 career shutouts and 12 career no-hitters, both of which rank among the NCAA Division II top 10 along with her 124 wins and 58 shutouts.

Brown also remains the only player in Sunshine State Conference (SSC) history to thrice earn the SSC Pitcher of the Year award and one of only four to be named an All-American three times. She was inducted into both the Florida Southern Hall of Fame and Sunshine State Conference Hall of Fame in 2013.

She continued her softball playing career at the professional level, playing three seasons in the National Pro Fastpitch League, first with the Michigan Ice in 2007 followed by two seasons with the Rockford Thunder.

After the 2009 season with the Thunder, she jumped into the international ranks with the Titano Hornets A1 Softball team in Dogana, San Marino, in 2010 and 2011, and then with the Oosterhout Twins in Oosterhout, Netherlands, in 2012. Those international endeavors have taken her to softball fields in Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands and San Marino.

Now a Lancer, Brown will inherit a Longwood team that returns every starter from a team that was the favorite to repeat as Big South champions in the 2020 preseason coaches poll. Among those returners are All-Big South pitcher Sydney Backstrom, All-Big South infielder Destiny Martinez and All-Big South outfielder Jenna Dunn, as well as starting utility players Mason Basdikis, Sydney Jacobsen and Alexis Wayland, first baseman Madison Blair, shortstop Kasey Carr and outfielders Nia Green, Leah Powell and Lauren Taylor.