Aug. 20, 2005
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Laura Watten, the 2005 NFCA Southeast Region Coach of the Year, has been named the head softball coach at the University of Maryland, associate athletics director Dave Haglund announced today.
Watten brings eight years of experience as a Division I head coach to the Terrapin program. As head coach at Bethune-Cookman College, Watten led the 2005 Wildcats to the NCAA Division I Super Regionals and a final No. 18 ranking by the NFCA/USA Today on her way to earning NCAA Southeast Region Coach of the Year Honors.
"I am very excited to have this new opportunity at the University of Maryland," said Watten. "I am extremely impressed with the support for the program and the excitement and unity within the department. I am inheriting a very talented and eager group of young ladies who I know have the ability to reach great heights in the years to come. I have had an excellent career at Bethune-Cookman College and look forward to this new stage of my life with the Terrapin softball program."
Bethune-Cookman earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Regionals in May and went on to emerge unbeaten as the champion of the Gainesville, Fla., regional over host University of Florida, South Florida and Central Florida. In the Super Regional at Austin, Texas, the Wildcats fell to the University of Texas.
"Laura Watten is a proven winner who is committed to success on and off the field of play," said Haglund. "She impressed everyone with her passion, vision and `can-do' attitude. We're delighted to have her join the Terrapin family and assume the leadership reins of the Maryland softball program."
The Wildcats made five NCAA Regional appearances and captured five conference titles during Watten's eight years as head coach. Her career record of 322-205 equates to a winning percentage of better than 61 percent, and she has an average of over 40 wins per season during her career.
Watten led Bethune-Cookman to five-straight 40-win seasons, including a 49-win total this past year that included victories over Florida (twice), Northwestern, Central Florida, South Florida, Virginia Tech, Florida Atlantic and UMass, all of which advanced to the 2005 NCAA Tournament. In total, the Wildcats were 21-17 vs. teams that finished in the top 100 of the NCAA's RPI (Rating Percentage Index) last season. Statistically in 2005, the Wildcats ranked fourth in the nation in stolen bases per game, 10th in batting average and team ERA, 12th in double plays turned and 25th in scoring.
Off the field, Watten's teams have posted a team GPA of 3.2 or better every single year and have had a 100 percent graduation rate. Watten's players have been cited as NFCA Academic All-Americans 27 times.
Watten is a 1992 graduate of the University of Texas-Arlington where she played catcher and first base and helped her team to a conference title in 1989 and top 25 rankings in two seasons. She was a three-time all-conference selection for the Mavericks and went on to an assistant coach position at the school.
A member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), Watten has served on the NCAA South Region ranking committee and the NFCA's Top 25 voting panel. She also has been an active member of the Diversity Committee within the NFCA.