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Class of 1998
Western Illinois: 1973 - 2005
NFCA Hall of Famer Kathy Veroni led Western Illinois to 869 wins, 11 conference championships, and eight national tournament appearances during her 34 years as head softball coach. One of the winningest coaches in NCAA softball history, Veroni compiled an 869-631-3 (.579) record with the Westerwinds from 1971 to 2005. She ended her career ranked among the top-15 winningest coaches in NCAA history.
When also including her games as head coach for WIW field hockey and the Macomb Magic (a summer team that she organized and led from 1979-85), Veroni coached approximately 2,200 games. Well-respected among her peers as a coach and clinician, Veroni is the author of Coaching Fastpitch Softball Successfully and Off the Bench; in addition, she was a contributing author for The Softball Coaching Bible.
Veroni was president of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association from 1991 through 1994 and chair of the NCAA Softball Rules Committee. She is also a member of the Western Illinois, Illinois State and Illinois Amateur Softball Halls of Fame.
Veroni led Western Illinois to 19 consecutive 20-win seasons and 27 winning campaigns throughout her career. After five AIAW tournament appearances, the Westerwinds advanced to the NCAA tournament after sweeping through the Gateway Conference Tournament in 1992 and the Mid-Continent Conference Tournaments in 2000 and 2001. The Westerwinds enjoyed a record-breaking season in 2000, collecting a school-record 46 victories, including 25 consecutive wins, the nation's longest streak for more than three weeks. The squad also won a school-record 21 conference games and reached No.4 in the final NCAA Mideast Regional poll, the highest regional ranking in school history. Western ended the season with a 46-14 overall record and a 21-1 mark in conference play. Repeating as Mid-Con Tournament champs in 2001, the Westerwinds went undefeated in the three-game championship series, then allowed just one run in the NCAA play-in series to sweep their way into back-to-back NCAA tournaments.
Veroni developed Western Illinois into the Mid-Con's most dominant program. Having led Western to more regular-season titles than any other school, Veroni's team captured six championships in 12 Mid-Con seasons, including four straight from 1995-98, and never finished lower than third. She developed six players of the year and 74 all-conference players, while some of her players set nine single-season and seven career conference records.
Veroni earned her bachelor's degree in physical education from Illinois State in 1968 and her master's from Michigan State in 1971. Her professional playing career included a stint with the world champion Connecticut Falcons, a member of the International Women's Professional Softball Association. She was also a member of the longest-running women's fastpitch team in the nation, the Pekin-Lettes, from 1969-75.