Jacksonville University and Chief Athletics Officer Dr. Donnie Horner proudly welcomed Jennifer Steele as the new softball head coach in July of 2014. A nine-year coaching veteran, Steele comes to JU as the fifth head coach in program history after serving the past two seasons at her alma mater, Longwood, as the first assistant coach.
"Jennifer Steele is a leader of the highest character and an excellent teacher who will prepare our student-athletes to compete in the classroom, on the softball field, and in life," Horner said.
No stranger to the role of head coach, Steele was named Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Coach of the Year in 2009 at Randolph College after leading the team to its first-ever winning season and its first trip to the conference tournament. She then served two years overseeing the pitchers and catchers at George Mason before returning to Longwood in 2012.
Assistant Coach: Jacksonville University
Jacksonville University softball Head Coach Jennifer Steele announced the hiring of Erica Ayers as an assistant coach (July 7). A 15-year coaching veteran, Ayers comes to Jacksonville after spending the last six seasons at Georgetown University.
"First, I would like to thank Jacksonville University, Athletic Director Dr. Donnie Horner and Coach Jen Steele for this opportunity," said Ayers. "I am a big believer in Coach Steele's ability to lead the JU softball program to new heights and I am extremely excited to help her in that venture."
Directly responsible for the Hoyas' defense and hitters, Ayers coached nine All Big East selections during her six years on the Hilltop. In 2013, Georgetown defeated the highest ranked opponent in program history with an upset over No. 8 Louisville, set a new school record for team fielding percentage, and made its first postseason appearance in both program and Big East history. The 2014 season was record breaking, as the Hoyas made their second consecutive trip to the postseason and finished tied for second in the Big East. The Hoyas also set new records for run total, batting average, and wins during the 2014 campaign.
Assistant Coach: Jacksonville University
Jacksonville University softball Head Coach Jennifer Steele announced the hiring of Mike Young as a volunteer assistant coach on July 9, 2015. A 17-year coaching veteran, Young comes to JU after spending the last 12 seasons as the head coach at Bishop Snyder Catholic School in Jacksonville.
Young led Bishop Snyder to a state title in 2006, a final four appearance in 2008, and consecutive state runner-up finishes in 2012 and 2013. He is also a three-time recipient of Dairy Farmer Coach of the Year (2008, 2012, and 2013).
Prior to his time at Bishop Snyder, Young was the head coach at Bishop Dunne Catholic School in Dallas, Texas where he had the program's field dedicated to him (Michael J. Young Field). He has worked numerous camps, most notably Arkansas' in 2013 and 2014. He is a current National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) member and holds an NFCA 4 Star Coach accreditation. He is also a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA).
Graduate Assistant Manager: Jacksonville University
Head Coach Jennifer Steele announced the addition of Libby Morris to her staff June 23. The former standout, who was coached by Steele at Longwood, joins the Dolphins as a graduate assistant manager.
While at Longwood, Morris assisted the Lancers to a pair of Big South Championship titles in 2013 and 2015. Her illustrious pitching career included 61 games won, and was highlighted by a 21-win season with Steele. She was a two-time Big South Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player (2013, 2015), a Second Team Big South Conference selection (2014), and a VASID All-State honoree (2013).
"I'm thrilled to have Libby join us down here in Jacksonville while she continues her education," said Steele. "She is familiar with me and my expectations, and we work together very well. She will be an invaluable resource to our student athletes, as they will benefit being around a fiercely competitive and successful former student-athlete."