MUNCIE, Ind. - - Ball State University has selected Tyra Perry, who served as the head coach at Western Kentucky University for the past six seasons (2008-13), as the new head coach of the Cardinals softball program, director of intercollegiate athletics Bill Scholl announced Tuesday.
"We are thrilled to welcome Tyra Perry to the Ball State family as our new softball head coach," Scholl said. "There was a great amount of interest in the program, with Tyra separating herself from a deep and talented pool of candidates. We have built one of the best programs in the Midwest and I am confident Tyra will help us maintain our upward momentum and push us to new heights."
Perry has spent the last 12 seasons as a NCAA Division I softball head coach, totaling 342 career victories and most recently guiding the Lady Toppers to their most successful campaign in program history.
“I am very excited for this opportunity to coach the Ball State softball program,” Perry said. “Ball State has a strong tradition of excellence on the softball field and I am looking forward to working with the current players to help the program build upon this tradition. I am excited about the vision Bill Scholl has not only for the softball program, but for the Ball State athletics department as a whole. I would also like to thank the hiring committee for the opportunity they have given me.”
The eighth head coach in Ball State softball history, Perry was the head softball coach at Birmingham-Southern from 2002-07 before taking over at Western Kentucky.
In her six-year tenure at WKU, Perry guided the Lady Toppers to a 196-146-1 (.573) overall record including the program's first-ever NCAA Regional appearance in 2013. WKU advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional this past season and finished the year ranked No. 26 in the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), the highest final ranking in program history.
Perry also guided the Lady Toppers to several other firsts during the 2013 campaign. The program posted its first 40-plus win season (43-18) and earned its first Sun Belt Conference regular season title with a 20-3 league record. WKU played its way into the SBC Tournament championship game for the first time under Perry, falling just short of the title with a 2-0 loss to then-No. 19 South Alabama.
The two-time SBC Coach of the Year (2013 and 2009), Perry helped junior pitcher Emily Rousseau earn the program's first SBC Pitcher of the Year honor in 2013. In her six seasons with the Lady Toppers, Perry helped her players garner 14 All-SBC honors, 13 SBC Player of the Week honors, 10 SBC Pitcher of the Week honors and eight SBC All-Tournament Team selections.
In the classroom, Perry’s Western Kentucky student-athletes earned five CoSIDA Academic All-District selections, 22 recognitions on the Sun Belt Commissioner's List and 34 Sun Belt Academic Honor Roll awards.
Perry guided Birmingham-Southern to 146 victories in six seasons as head coach, despite the Panthers being a provisional NCAA Division I member during her first two years with the program (2002-03). In 2006, she led Birmingham-Southern to its first winning season in program history and finished with a 28-21 record.
Her Panthers squads posted at least 25 wins in each of her final five seasons with the program. In addition, 15 Birmingham-Southern student-athletes received postseason honors from the Big South Conference during Perry’s tenure, and five players earned recognition after both the 2005 and 2006 campaigns.
In 2006, Perry added the title of Assistant Athletic Director/Senior Woman Administrator to her duties and served as BSC's compliance director. Perry was also the head coach for the Southeastern All-Star team which played the United States Olympic squad prior to the 2004 games in Athens.
A 1997 and 1998 graduate of Louisiana State University, Perry earned her degree in kinesiology in 1997 and added a master's degree in sports administration in 1998. She was a two-year letterwinner in softball for the Tigers (1997-98), and helped the program post a combined 102-28 (.758) record over her career, including a 58-14 (.806) mark in Southeastern Conference play.
She also helped the Tigers pick up a pair of SEC West Division titles and make the program's first-ever NCAA Regional Tournament appearance where it finished second.
In her first season at LSU, Perry led the Tigers with a .345 batting average, 11 home runs, 40 runs scored, a .416 on-base percentage and a .612 slugging percentage. Those numbers helped her earn recognition on the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-South Region Second Team, as well as first-team All-Louisiana honors and a slot on the SEC’s all-tournament team. Perry led the team with five homers in 1998, while posting a .324 average with 29 runs scored and 38 RBI. Off the field, she was twice named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll.Perry was inducted into the Zachary High School Hall of Fame in her hometown of Zachary, La., in 2007.