Kayla English enters her third season as an assistant coach with the Lady Muleriders and will continue serving as the team's pitching coach after directing one of the Great American Conference's top pitching staff's for the past two seasons.
During Southern Arkansas' historic 2018 run to a third-place finish nationally, English commanded an SAU pitching staff that finished the campaign ranked seventh nationally in both ERA (1.76) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.80). At the end of the regular season which saw the Lady Muleriders win a program record 49 regular season games, English's staff posted regular season league-bests in ERA, opponent batting average, strikeouts, strikeouts looking, wins, and the fewest hits, runs, earned runs and walks allowed.
Following the 71-game season, Southern Arkansas' staff owned a 1.77 team-ERA with 403 strikeouts in 462.2 innings pitched, while opponents hit just .220.
With English's direction, a pair of arms that were vital in Southern Arkansas' 2018 successes in Victoria Taylor and Brooke Ford-Nelson earned postseason honors with Taylor being named the GAC's Pitcher of the Year and a unanimous First-Team performer, while Ford-Nelson earned All-GAC Second-Team honors. Taylor went on to become a consensus All-America performer as well as a top ten finalist for Schutt Sports/NFCA Division II National Player of the Year after a sensational sophomore campaign saw the right-hander win a program-record 33 games.
In the 2017, the pitching staff posted the GAC's third-lowest team ERA (1.91) and under English's leadership, Kaylee Garner (Second-Team) and Taylor (Honorable Mention) claimed league postseason honors, while the pitching staff recorded 373 strikeouts to just 107 walks and added 46 wins, while opponents hit just .229 during the season.
While on staff, English most recently received her Master of Science in Kinesiology/Coaching from Southern Arkansas University in December of 2018.
Prior to her coming to SAU, English was a Graduate Assistant softball coach at Midwestern State University. During her lone year at Midwestern State, English coached two first-team players, a pair of second-team players, and one third-team player. Midwestern’s pitching staff was ranked in the top five in strikeouts and batting average against within the Lone Star Conference. Along with her ability to coach a dominant pitching staff, English also has experience with recruiting successful pitchers to fit the needs of the program.
Before beginning her coaching career, English served as a notorious pitcher for the University of Dayton in which she spent all four years of her collegiate career. As a freshman, English held the lowest ERA on the team with a 2.55 and recorded 134 strikeouts in 140 innings pitched. During her career, she was named Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year, 4-time All-Atlantic 10, and first-team All-Conference in 2015, while also being a 10-time conference pitcher of the week. English also logged Dayton’s first perfect game in 2015, and a no-hitter in 2014. A native of Grapevine, Texas holds the record for most strikeouts in a career at Dayton with 564.
Additionally, in her career English is third in wins with 53, and fourth in opponent batting average at .222. In her final year with the Dayton Flyers, English had her best statistical year as she recorded a 2.14 ERA with 121 strikeouts in 124 innings pitched en route to being named to the A-10 All-Rookie Team.
Brooke Goad enters into her first year as an assistant coach for the Mulerider Softball program as she will make the transition to the coaching ranks at SAU after a historic record-breaking career as a player for the Muleriders.
A native of Waxahachie, Texas, Goad developed into the most prolific power hitter not only in SAU history, but in NCAA Division II lore as well. For her career, Goad hit .365 (245-for-671) with 262 runs scored, 51 doubles, two triples, 90 home runs, 213 RBIs and 218 walks. Additionally, she posted a .849 career slugging percentage and boasted a .534 on-base percentage.
A three-time All-America honoree for her unparalleled offensive production, Goad’s 90 home runs over the course of her career are a NCAA Division II All-Time record. In fact, Goad’s career home run total is tied for the third-most all-time, regardless of division.
As the nation’s most potent power bat in recent memory, Goad also became a hitter not many opposing pitchers wanted to face and her walk totals reflected that sentiment. With 218 career walks and nearly half of those coming in her senior season, Goad is also currently the DII All-Time leader in walks.
In her true freshman campaign in 2014, Goad burst onto the scene with 15 home runs in just 36 games. Unfortunately, that sensational rookie season was cut short at 36 games as Goad suffered the first of what would be three significant knee injuries. Goad battled back from that initial injury to play the beginning of her sophomore season in 2015. Through just nine games that year, Goad had two more home runs, but like her freshman season, Goad missed the remainder of the year with a knee injury.
After gaining a medical redshirt for the 2015 season, Goad came back healthy in 2016 and as a redshirt sophomore helped lead the Muleriders to the NCAA Division II Softball Championship for the first time in program history. Individually, Goad earned her first All-America plaudit as she batted .364 that year and hit a SAU and Great American Conference (GAC) single-season record 23 home runs. Goad then followed that up in 2017 with an 18 home run campaign and was once more an All-American.
While her career had already achieved elite status, Goad found a way to elevate it even more her senior year as she had one of the best offensive seasons ever in softball. That year, Goad hit .393 (68-for-173) with 80 runs scored, eight doubles, 32 home runs 72 RBIs and 91 walks. A consensus first-team All-America selection, Goad set DII single-season records for home runs and walks. Her production at the plate helped lead the Muleriders back to the NCAA DII Softball Championship for the second time in three years.
The Female Athlete of the Year overall in the GAC in 2017-18, Goad’s senior season saw her set nine single-season program hitting records, including slugging percentage, on-base percentage, games played, runs scored, RBI, home runs, total bases, walks, and intentional walks. That output helped her finish her career as the sole owner of nine career program hitting records.
Graduate Assistant Coach
Robyn Leighton enters her first year as a graduate assistant softball coach at Southern Arkansas.
A native of Parker, Colo., Leighton comes to SAU for her first coaching experience after a productive four-year playing career at NCAA Division I-Morehead State University (Morehead, Ky.). A career .305 hitter, Leighton played in 175 games and totaled 66 runs scored, 15 doubles, three triples, 26 home runs, and 82 RBIs as an Eagle.
After playing in 28 games as a freshman and hitting .259, Leighton broke out as a sophomore and was a second-team All-Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) honoree after she hit .343 (46-for-134) in 51 games with eight doubles, two triples, six home runs and drove in 21.
A year later, Leighton’s average dipped slightly to .308 over a 45-game season, but her power production increased as she doubled her home run output to 12 while driving in a career-best 34 runs. Leighton capped her career with another productive year as she hit .284 over 51 games with a pair of doubles, six home runs and 21 RBIs.