LOUISVILLE, Ky. (NFCA.org) - Three-time NCAA Division III national champion Virginia Wesleyan University was selected by coaches in a nationwide ballot as the 2021 NFCA National Coaching Staff of the Year, the Association revealed on Monday afternoon.
Head coach Brandon Elliott and assistants Jim Quinn, Mary Pilkington, Chris Smith and Bobby Wills guided the Marlins to a 46-6-1 mark, and a defeat of reigning titlist Texas Lutheran in the best-of-three Division III championship series for their third national crown in the last four NCAA tournaments.
Virginia Wesleyan won back-to-back Division III titles in 2017 and 2018, capturing Regional and National Coaching Staff of the Year honors both those seasons, and also won Regional Coaching Staff of the Year honors in 2016. Last week, the Marlins claimed their fourth Atlantic Region Coaching Staff of the Year honor in the last five years that awards have been presented.
Behind a veteran squad that included both Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Pitcher of the Year Hanna Hull and Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Player of the Year Jessica Goldyn, Virginia Wesleyan continued as one of the perennial national softball powers.
Goldyn, who also earned Diamond Sports/NFCA Catcher of the Year and New Balance Golden Shoe awards this season, joined fellow graduate student Hull and freshman pitcher Emily Seale on the NFCA All-America squad.
For Hull, the back-to-back Schutt Sports/NFCA National Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018 before it was split into separate pitcher and player honors, it was her fourth-straight All-America honor, including 2017, when she was also the Schutt Sports/NFCA National Freshman of the Year.
Goldyn, Hull and Seale were joined by four teammates — senior third baseman Julia Sinnett, senior first baseman Danielle Stewart, junior outfielder Ariana Rolle and graduate student Madison Glaubke — on the NFCA All-Atlantic Region team earlier this spring.
The Marlins won 10 straight contests to open the season and won 18 consecutive games going back to the abbreviated 2020 campaign. They also had win streaks of 12 and 14 games in 2021.
Virginia Wesleyan was 15-1 in the postseason, with a 3-2 loss to Texas Lutheran in the second game of the best-of-three Division III championship series at the national finals the only blemish over its final 16 games.
Like the NFCA Regional Coaching Staffs of the Year, the National Coaching Staff of the Year honoree is selected by Division III member head coaches via an online ballot. No awards were given in 2020 following the cancellation of the season due COVID-19 pandemic.