Wallace State Community College’s softball program continues to rack up postseason awards.
Wallace State’s softball coaching staff, made up of head coach A.J. Daugherty and assistants Cadi Oliver and Carson Owens, was named the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Coaching Staff of the Year on Monday, as voted on by their peers.
On Tuesday, outfielder Felicity Frame was named a NJCAA Division I 1st-team All-American and pitcher Leigha Kirby was selected to the 2nd-team, less than a week after each was named the NFCA 1st-team.
Wallace State coaching staff
Daugherty, also the 2022 Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) Coach of the Year, and his staff led Wallace State to a 56-4 record and the overall No. 3 seed at the NJCAA Division I Championships in Yuma, Ariz. The Lions spent four weeks as the No. 1 team in Division I during the regular season.
Wallace State softball carved out one of the best seasons in program history that didn’t result in a national championship, winning the program’s 14th ACCC Tournament title and outscoring opponents by 391 runs.
“Our staff is honored and humbled by the recognition. The thing I appreciate the most is the award is for the staff and not a specific coach. Any person who watches us play knows our assistants are the straws that stir the drink. It means a lot they’re included. People who choose this profession certainly know it’s more about the staff than the head coach when you experience success,” Daugherty said. “I think it speaks volumes we didn’t reach the end result of winning a national championship, yet we were still recipients.”
Daugherty has compiled a 260-58 career record at Wallace State, leading the program to four conference championships and four subsequent national championship appearances.
Oliver completed her third year as a Wallace State assistant. Oliver played collegiately at Jacksonville State and in high school at Sumiton Christian.
Owens completed his first season as a Wallace State assistant after one campaign at Southern Utah University. As a student, Owens served on the Wallace State support staff from 2018-2019 before transferring to Alabama.
Prior to Monday’s recognition, Wallace State’s coaching staff had already earned the NFCA NJCAA Division I South Regional Coaching Staff of the Year.
Frame and Kirby named NJCAA All-Americans
Frame is the first Wallace State softball player to earn NJCAA 1st-team recognition since Rachel Ragland in 2015.
Frame was a catalyst at the top of the order for Wallace State for two seasons. She led the conference in batting average, hits, runs scored and stolen bases prior to the conference tournament, finishing the season with a .511 average, 91 hits, 72 runs scored and 62 stolen bases. Frame, a Brookwood native and UNA commit, also led the ACCC with a .558 on-base percentage.
“Felicity is exactly what you expect from a leadoff hitter. If she went 2-for-4, you almost felt like she had a bad day because she’s so dynamic. She’s a nightmare for opposing defenses. It’s rare to have a player as undefendable as Felicity. That’s one thing that makes her special,” Daugherty said.
Frame, also the 2022 ACCC Player of the Year, hit .511 during her career at Wallace State with 178 hits, 144 runs scored and 114 stolen bases.
Kirby was the anchor behind a stout Wallace State pitching staff that also featured Bailie Hall and Josie Thompson and finished with a collective 1.12 ERA.
Kirby, also the ACCC Tournament MVP and the ACCC Pitcher of the Year, finished the season with a conference-best 0.91 ERA. She went 19-1 with 12 complete games and 168 strikeouts in 122 2/3 innings.
A Pisgah native, Kirby transferred to Wallace State for her sophomore season after one campaign at Chipola College.
“Leigha isn’t flashy and doesn’t throw with velocity off the charts. She hits her spots and keep the ball down most of the time, keeping hitters off balance,” Daugherty said. “Leigha was a great addition to our team and pitched to her full potential.”
Wallace State’s sophomore class won 111 games in two seasons, earning two conference titles and making a pair of national championship appearances.