Bringing Women’s College World Series experience to East Lansing, Sharonda McDonald-Kelley has been named head softball coach at Michigan State. Vice President and Director of Athletics Alan Haller made the announcement on June 10.
“I’m excited to welcome Sharonda McDonald-Kelley to our Spartan family,” Haller said. “She’s experienced great success as both a coach and a student-athlete, and has a plan to help Spartan softball achieve similar results. She is a teacher of the game, with a proven track record of skill development, helping student-athletes maximize their potential as she did during her record-breaking college career. She has a wealth of experience at several successful major Division 1 programs. And with her demonstrated success of back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances as head coach at Campbell, she’s proven she has the ability to successfully implement her approach in a short period of time.”
McDonald-Kelley guided the Campbell program to a 101-81 record over the last four seasons, winning Big South tournament titles with the Camels in 2021 and 2022. McDonald-Kelley’s teams went 50-19 in Big South play and advanced to NCAA Regionals in each of the last two seasons, marking two of the five times a Campbell team has reached the NCAA Tournament since 1986. In 2021, McDonald-Kelley was named Big South Coach of the Year after her team won both the Big South regular season and tournament titles.
“I want to thank God for this incredible opportunity,” McDonald-Kelley said. “I would also like to thank Vice President and Director of Athletics Alan Haller for the opportunity to lead the Michigan State softball program. The vision for the softball program and the investment into that vision was clear to me from the beginning. I could feel the pride ingrained in the culture of Michigan State athletics and know I will have the full support of the administration. Core values and family are very important to me. My family and I are excited to embrace the Spartan culture and become part of the community.”
McDonald-Kelley steps into the head coaching role following the retirement of long-time Michigan State head coach Jacquie Joseph, who guided the team for 29 seasons.
“I have a lot of respect for Jacquie Joseph, for the foundation she’s built at Michigan State and for the ambassador she’s been for softball, the Big Ten and the Michigan State program,” McDonald-Kelley said. “I am looking forward to building upon the foundation she laid and will continue to push the program forward. I am truly honored and excited for this opportunity. We can build something really special here and I fully expect this team to be competing for conference championships. I am ready to get to work and put a great product on the field.”
In four seasons at the helm of the Campbell program, McDonald-Kelley coached 15 All-Big South honorees, including seven on the All-Big South First Team, six on the All-Big South Second Team and two honorable mentions. In 2021, outfielder Destini England earned Big South Player of the Year and Third Team All-Southeast Region honors under McDonald-Kelley’s watch.
Campbell placed eight players on the All-Big South Tournament team during McDonald-Kelley’s tenure, including back-to-back tournament MVP’s in 2021 and 2022.
Prior to Campbell, McDonald-Kelley spent the first 10 years of her coaching career as an assistant coach at Ohio State, Florida, Texas Tech, LSU, Ohio and Texas Southern. McDonald-Kelley also served as head coach of the Chicago Bandits in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) League in 2017.
During her lone season at Ohio State in 2018, McDonald-Kelley helped the Top 25-ranked Buckeyes to a 36-16 record along with a trip to NCAA Regionals. Ohio State’s 36 wins were the most for the program since 2010. McDonald-Kelley spent two seasons at Florida as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator in 2016 and 2017, bringing in a pair of Top-10 recruiting classes while the Gators went 114-17 and made an appearance in the 2017 Women’s College World Series.
The Houston, Texas native spent one year as associate head coach at Texas Tech in 2015 following a two-year stint as a volunteer assistant at LSU. At LSU, the Tigers made consecutive NCAA Regional appearances in 2013 and 2014 with McDonald-Kelley coaching the outfield. McDonald-Kelley’s guidance helped develop A.J. Andrews into an All-American in 2013.
From 2010-12, McDonald-Kelley served as assistant coach at Ohio after getting her coaching career started at Texas Southern in 2009.
McDonald-Kelley was a four-time All-Big 12 selection as a player at Texas A&M from 2004-07, capping off her intercollegiate career with Texas A&M’s first trip to the Women’s College World Series in 20 years. A terror on the basepaths, McDonald-Kelley is the Aggie career record holder with 153 stolen bases, while ranking second all-time in hits (249) and runs scored (195). McDonald-Kelley is the Texas A&M single-season record holder for runs (60) and her 73 consecutive stolen bases during her time in College Station tied an NCAA record. With 48 steals in 2005, McDonald-Kelley led the NCAA and earned the Golden Shoe Award. She compiled a .338 batting average throughout her four-year collegiate career.
Following her career at Texas A&M, McDonald-Kelley played professionally for seven years, spending time with the Philadelphia Force, the Akron Racers and the USSA Pride of the NPF League. McDonald-Kelley played for Fiorini Softball Club of the Italian Professional League in 2009. A three-time All-NPF selection during her professional career, McDonald garnered the prestigious Diamond Spikes Award in 2012 after hitting .303 with 13 stolen bases for the Racers.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts in kinesiology from Texas A&M in 2008.
McDonald-Kelley is married to Mike Kelley and the couple has one daughter, Kyler.
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