DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – The all-time winningest softball coach in Bethune-Cookman University history will return to Daytona Beach, Florida, as Laura Watten will be the next Head Softball Coach at Bethune-Cookman University. The announcement came at a press conference inside the Michael & Libby Johnson Center for Civic Engagement on Tuesday afternoon.
“It feels good back to be back. It feel good to be home,” Watten said. “There’s nowhere else I wanted to go.”
Watten takes over the softball program for B-CU after Chris Cochran was relieved of her duties in April.
“Bethune-Cookman is indeed a family; and when you think of family, you think of home,” said Lynn Thompson, B-CU Director of Athletics. “We are proud Laura Watten is home. She is the epitome of a coach and an administrator. Get ready. We’re adding a proven weapon to the arsenal.”
The former Bethune-Cookman University coach returns to Daytona Beach after spending nine seasons as the head softball coach at the University of Maryland in College Park. In her stint with the Terrapins, Watten’s teams logged three consecutive NCAA Regionals appearances from 2010-12 – the first time in Maryland history the feat had been accomplished.
Watten helped transform the culture surrounding the Maryland program and brought an exciting brand of softball to Maryland Softball Stadium, which culminated with the program's second appearance in NCAA Regionals in May 2010.
During the 2013 campaign, Watten molded an inexperienced, youthful squad into a winner. That 2013 Terps’ team won the most Atlantic Coast Conference games for a season in school history, amassing a 13-8 ACC mark. The Terps won six of eight league series to finish third in the final league standings. Freshman Lindsey Schmeiser broke the school's record for RBI in a season (59), while also leading the league in the category. She would go on to be named ACC Rookie of the Year and selected to the All-ACC First Team.
The 2012 Terrapins team finished 34-22 overall, 10-8 finish in ACC play, registering a third-straight NCAA Regionals appearance. The Terps won 14-of-16 games to end the regular season and earn their postseason bid. Vangie Galindo, Kendra Knight and Kathy McLaughlin were each named to the All-ACC Team. The trio – part of one of Watten's original recruiting classes, were consistent performers for the Terps.
Following the 2012 season, Watten was introduced into the Bethune-Cookman University Athletics Hall of Fame. Joining her in the September 2012 induction class was assistant coach and former player at B-CU, Amber Jackson – the school’s all-time leader in several statistical categories.
Watten had spent the previous eight seasons as head coach for Bethune-Cookman from 1998-2005. In that span, Watten’s Wildcats terrorized the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, as well as the state of Florida as a whole. In 2005, B-CU enjoyed the most successful run of any MEAC team in history, amassing a 49-19 record and advancing to the NCAA Super Regionals in Austin, Texas.
In her eight years at the helm in Daytona Beach, Watten registered an impressive 125-20 league record, including unbeaten conference marks in 2003 (18-0) and 2005 (16-0). The Cats won five consecutive league titles (2000-04), while Watten received MEAC Coach of the Year honors in three of those seasons (2001-03). She would go on to collect the award again in 2005, on her way to being named NFCA Southeast Region Coach of the Year. Overall at B-CU, Watten compiled a record of 319-204, averaging more than 40 wins per season.
“I can’t guarantee overnight success, but we will work to get back to the Super Regionals,” Watten said.