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Cathi Aradi

Bertagnolli, Joyce, Meyer & Murphy Inducted Into NFCA Hall of Fame; New Class Announced for 2014

SAN ANTONIO, Texas California University of Pennsylvania head coach Rick Bertagnolli, Florida Atlantic University head coach Joan Joyce, Minnesota State University, Mankato head coach Lori Meyer and University of Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy joined one of softball’s most elite fraternities on Friday evening at the 2013 NFCA National Convention in San Antonio, Texas, with their respective inductions into the NFCA Hall of Fame. 

The highly respected quartet joins 58 prior members in the Hall, receiving the prestigious accolade for careers spent positively influencing not just the sport of softball, but also countless student-athletes. Together the group boasts an incredible 3,508 total victories, has combined for over 93 total years of service as head coaches and possesses three national championships while also combining to make 50 visits to their respective NCAA Tournaments.

 

Rick Bertagnolli – 2013 Inductee

In 20 seasons as the head coach of California University Pennsylvania softball, Rick Bertagnolli has helped turn the Vulcan program into a perennial national contender.

He has led Cal U to 705 victories and personally possesses 967 total wins gained during a 29-year coaching career that also included stops at Wabash Valley Junior College and South Carolina-Spartanburg. He currently ranks fourth among active coaches in Division II career winning percentage and is the winningest coach in all of Cal U sports history.

A two-time NFCA National Coach of the Year (1997, 1998), a four-time NFCA Regional Coach of the Year (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998) and a 12-time Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West Coach of the Year, Bertagnolli has guided the Vulcans to a pair of national titles (1997, 1998) and 17 NCAA Tournament appearances, while his Cal U teams have appeared in the PSAC Championship Game 13 times and set a NCAA record with 88-consecutive conference wins from 1994-99.

Under his guidance numerous Vulcan players have also garnered national, regional and conference recognition. He has coached 31 NFCA All-Americans, 80 NFCA all-region honorees and over 100 all-conference players.

Lori Meyer – 2013 Inductee

For the past 29 years and a staggering 1,560 total games, Lori Meyer has worked diligently to turn Minnesota State-Mankato into one of the premier Division II programs in the nation.

A 967-game winner, she has been responsible for over 95% of the Mavericks’ all-time victories as well as for coaching 19 All-Americans, 77 all-conference (North Central Conference & Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) performers and 104 academic all-conference recipients. She and her staff were also honored as the 2011 NFCA Central Region Coaching Staff of the Year after her squad finished 54-16 with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championship.

During her career Minnesota State has secured three NCC titles (1987, 1989, 2007) and two NSIC titles (2012, 2013), made 11 trips to the NCAA Division II National Tournament (1987, 1989, 1995, 1997, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) and a pair of trips to the NCAA Championships (1987 and 2011).

Joan Joyce – 2013 Inductee

As the only head coach Florida Atlantic has ever known in its 19-season history, Joyce has directed the Owls program to over 750 total victories, a string of eight-consecutive Atlantic Sun Conference Championships (1997-2004) -- nine in all (2006) -- and seven NCAA Tournament appearances (1999-2004, 2006). During FAU's initial season as a member of the Sun Belt Conference, the Owls were also crowned regular season and conference tournament champions.

The five-time A-Sun Coach of the Year and 2007 Sun Belt Coach of the Year has also lent her talents as the head coach of the FAU women’s golf squad since 1996.

A member of the National Amateur Softball Hall of Fame and a multi-sport athlete who played softball, basketball, volleyball and was also a member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) for 19 years, Joyce has already been inducted into nine halls of fame. Her enshrinements include the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame, Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame, the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, the Hank O'Donnell Hall of Fame, the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame, the International Softball Federation Hall of Fame, the National Amateur Softball Hall of Fame, the Greater Waterbury Hall of Fame, and is one of only three Americans who have been inducted into the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame. In 1976 she was also a runner-up for the Women's Sports Magazine Athlete of the Year.

She managed a sparkling career pitching record of 753 wins and 42 losses. Included in those totals were 150 no-hit, no-run games and 50 perfect efforts. At the plate she posted a career batting average of .324 and counts striking out Ted Williams in 1961 as one of her most notable achievements.

Patrick Murphy – 2013 Inductee

For a school widely known for its high-profile coaches, Patrick Murphy has built a powerhouse program at Alabama that befits an athletic department known for major success over numerous sports.

An 817-game winner during a 16-year softball coaching career, he managed to lead his program to the top of the mountain by guiding his Crimson Tide to the 2012 NCAA Division I National Championship. The national title marked the first for any Southeastern Conference program and only the second all-time for a school East of the Mississippi River (Michigan – 2005). For his efforts he and his staff were named the 2012 NFCA Division I National Coaching Staff of the Year. 

His teams have now made eight Women’s College World Series appearances, won four regular-season SEC crowns and four SEC Tournament titles, reached the NCAA Tournament for 15 consecutive seasons and totaled 10 campaigns with 50-plus wins.

From an individual standpoint, Murphy has tutored players who have reaped 78 total All-American honors, while having 85 players receive All-SEC accolades and 73 individuals garner NFCA All-Region honors. His teams have been just as successful in the classroom, with 14 Academic All-Americans and over 150 All-SEC Academic selections to his credit.

 

McSpadden, Lenhart, Stuedeman & Baker Tabbed for 2014 NFCA Hall of Fame Induction

Following the banquet, NFCA First Vice President and chairperson of the Hall of Fame committee Kathryn Gleason stepped to the podium to name the four members of 2014 NFCA Hall of Fame class. Oklahoma City University head coach Phil McSpadden, SUNY Cortland head coach Julie Lenhart, University of Alabama-Huntsville head coach Les Stuedeman and in the Pioneer category NFCA Executive Director Lacy Lee Baker.

 

Phil McSpadden – 2014 Inductee

In 26 seasons as the head coach at Oklahoma City University, McSpadden has built the Stars’ program into a major NAIA powerhouse. He has guided his squad to eight national titles (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2007) and 13 total championship games, the most in both categories in NAIA history, during 25 visits to the NAIA Championships.

A four-time NFCA NAIA National Coaching Staff of the Year and seven-time NFCA NAIA Southwest Region Coaching Staff of the Year honoree, McSpadden has accumulated a staggering record of 1,368-344, to sit at the top of the list of active winningest coaches in NAIA softball, and led his program to 16 Sooner Athletic Conference crowns. He has also coached over 40 All-Americans, more than 23 NAIA scholar-athletes and had four former OCU players help their respective countries win Olympic medals.

Most recently in 2013, the Oklahoma City University and NAIA Hall of Famer guided the Stars to 51 victories, the title in the inaugural NAIA Championship Opening Round Oklahoma City bracket and to the NAIA Championships for the 22nd consecutive season and NAIA-best 27th time overall.

Julie Lenhart – 2014 Inductee

Lenhart is the winningest coach in program history at Division III Cortland, going 637-240-2 (.726) in 19 seasons leading the Red Dragons.

Last year, Cortland was the national runner-up, compiling a 35-17 record and scoring the school’s best NCAA tournament finish. The Red Dragons overcame an 8-10 start to claim their third State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) championship in four years and notch their 12th straight 30-win campaign. The Red Dragons’ only two losses in five games at the World Series were to national champion Tufts. 

Cortland has qualified for the past seven NCAA tournaments and went to three straight tournaments from 1997-99 and 2003-05 under Lenhart, advancing to the World Series in 1998, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013. Eight of Cortland’s 12 SUNYAC titles have been won during Lenhart’s tenure.

She is a four-time SUNYAC Coach of the Year, was the 1997 NFCA East Region Coach of the Year and her staff has been honored seven times as the NFCA Division III Northeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year.

Before Cortland, Lenhart coached five seasons at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, where her teams went 120-77, earning her Wisconsin Women’s Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WWIAC) Coach of the Year honors in 1990 and 1992, while winning the league title in 1992. 

With an overall record of 757-317-2 (.704) in 24 seasons, Lenhart has the distinction of being just the seventh coach in Division III history to reach the 700-win plateau and is sixth all-time in victories among Division III head coaches.

Les Stuedeman – 2014 Inductee

Stuedeman has compiled an 846-266-1 record over 18 seasons as the only coach in University of Alabama-Huntsville program history. She has guided the Division II Chargers to 11 straight NCAA tournament appearances and averaged 47 wins each season. Her teams have never had fewer than 24 wins, and she has never had a losing season.

Alabama-Huntsville went 43-17 last season and reached the NCAA South Super Regional, along the way earning Stuedeman her eighth career Gulf South Conference Coach of the Year award. Her staff, meanwhile, has been chosen as NFCA South Region Coaching Staff of the Year six times. 

Stuedeman’s teams have earned 16 NCAA berths and won four South Region titles (1999, 2001, 2009, 2011). Alabama-Huntsville was the Division II runner-up in 2009 and 2011. 

Under Stuedeman, the Chargers have appeared in 11 Gulf South Conference championship games, winning a conference-record eight titles and three straight from 2006-08.

In September, Stuedeman was inducted into the Huntingdon College Athletic Hall of Fame, where she was a catcher from 1990-92, earning all-district honors all three seasons and garnering All-American status in 1992.

Lacy Lee Baker – 2014 Inductee

As only the second full-time Executive Director in the history of the NFCA, Baker has proven to be an invaluable contributor during a time of unprecedented growth and prosperity in the national softball coaches’ organization.

Named to her current position in 1994, she serves the Association as the primary liaison to the NFCA’s Board of Directors, Division I softball and the affiliate membership, through representing the Association’s views to other organizations and servicing the NFCA’s sponsors’ accounts, in organizing and planning the annual NFCA National Convention and serving as both the tournament director of numerous NFCA tournaments as well as publisher of the monthly member newspaper Fastpitch Delivery.

A native of Jackson, Miss., Baker possesses more than 30 years of experience in the sports industry, including seven years at the NCAA, where she served as assistant and associate director of championships, while administering all three NCAA softball championships. Prior to that, she worked for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee as project director and editor of Olympic Record, the official daily program of the 1984 Olympic Games.

On Friday during the third day of the 2013 NFCA National Convention, the annual Softball Summit granted coaches across all divisions the opportunity to discuss issues that affect the sport. The major topics of discussion focused on the issue of early verbals and membership inter-division communication. 

Make sure to send along your unique or funny tweets during the NFCA Convention (follow us at @NFCAorg) for a chance to win a free registration to the 2014 NFCA Convention in Las Vegas, Nev. To enter your tweet in the contest you must add the official hashtag of this year’s event:  #NFCATX