MUNCIE, Ind. - - Stephanie DeFeo, who has spent the last six season as the assistant coach for the Ball State University softball team, has been promoted to associate head coach for the Cardinals, according to Ball State head coach Craig Nicholson.
"Stephanie has played a large role in helping Ball State softball establish itself as a perennial MAC title contender," said Nicholson. "She has a great grasp on the game, and is an excellent teacher of the sport. She has worked tirelessly to help turn this program into a championship-caliber program."
Over her six seasons with the program, DeFeo has helped lead Ball State to a 204-145 (.585) record, including an 82-44 (.651) MAC mark. BSU has reached the 30-win plateau four times during that span, including the program's first two 40-win seasons, after reaching 30 wins only five times in the previous 32 years.
With her assistance, the program won its first-ever Mid-American Conference regular season championship in 2009 with the best league record in program history (18-3) and repeated the feat in 2010. The 2010 squad, which set program records for wins in a season (43) and winning percentage in a season (.729), also captured just the second MAC Tournament title in program history to advance to the NCAA Tournament. This past season, the Cardinals claimed their third MAC regular season title in four years with a 40-15 (17-3 MAC) record.
A former collegiate slugger herself, DeFeo has helped the Ball State offense develop into one of the fiercest in the nation. The 2011 squad finished the season with a school-record .320 batting average to rank 20th in the nation among the 298 NCAA Division I programs. In all, the Cardinals' hitters have broken school records in 20 of the 24 offensive categories in the program's record book during DeFeo's time on staff.
The Cardinals turned in the most impressive offensive campaign yet in 2012, ranking 10th nationally with a .318 batting average. BSU also finished the year as the only NCAA Division I program to rank in the top 15 nationally in doubles (second / 1.82), triples (11th / 0.29) and home runs (11th / 1.27) per game, while ranking sixth nationally in scoring (6.69) and seventh in slugging percentage (0.543). Ball State's sluggers also set the BSU and MAC single-season record with 70 home runs in 2012, including a BSU single-season best 18 from Jennifer Gilbert.
Ball State's fielding has also improved dramatically during DeFeo's time on staff, as the team has posted the top five fielding marks in program history, including a school-record .974 fielding percentage in 2010. In 58 games last season, the Cardinals committed just 44 errors and posted a .972 fielding percentage which ranks second on BSU's team charts. This past season, Ball State ranked first in the nation with 33 double plays turned.
Thanks in part to her guidance three BSU players have claimed MAC Player of the Year accolades in Gilbert (2012), Jessie Ware (2010) and Alicia Barkley (2009). A program-record four student-athletes were named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I All-Great Lakes Region teams in 2012, with Gilbert and Alison Mercado earning first team honors, while Amanda Montalto and Audrey Bickel were named to the second team. Ware also went on to earn recognition on the All-Great Lakes Region Second Team in 2010, while Barkley was named to the 2009 All-Mideast Region First Team.
Over the last four seasons (2009-12), the Cardinals have placed more players on the All-MAC First Team than any other school in the league. BSU has 13 honorees during that span, with Northern Illinois ranking second at seven. Overall, DeFeo has helped her student-athlete be honored on All-MAC team's 31 times, including 13 first team, 11 second team and seven all-freshman selections.A three-time academic all-American herself, DeFeo's dedication to her studies has rubbed off on BSU's players with both Barkley (2011) and Elizabeth Milian (2010) being named to the Capital One Academic All-America University Division Softball Third Team as voted on by the College Sports Information Directors of America. She has helped BSU's players earn a total of five CoSIDA Academic All-District V honors.