UNA Athletics names new softball head coach

New Lions Head Softball Coach Jason Anderson addresses the media at Thursday’s press conference where UNA Athletics officials introduced him to the UNA community. 

UNA introduced Jason Anderson as the new Lions softball coach in a press conference held Thursday afternoon in Flowers Hall.

Anderson, from Houston, Texas, was the head softball coach at Central Baptist College in Conway, Ariz., from 2008 to 2012. Under his leadership, the Mustangs became the 2010 National Christian College Athletic Association national champions. Anderson’s overall record at CBC is 226-38.

“I’m just very excited to become a part of the North Alabama athletic family,” Anderson said at the beginning of the press conference.

Anderson is replacing former Lions coach Jeremy Reece, whose contract was not renewed at the end of the 2012 season. Last season the softball team finished 20-26 overall with a Gulf South Conference record of 8-21.

“I think there’s a lot of good things that are in place right now (with the) girls that are returning and the girls that are coming in. I just hope I can provide a different voice and a different attitude and hopefully I can keep the girls mentally prepared and (playing) the game the right way, then we can get to the point where we’re playing at a very high level,” Anderson said.

Haley Barnette, returning as a junior starting pitcher next season, said she thinks Anderson is exactly what the team needs.

“I think that’s what we needed – we needed him to have that mentality to believe in us and I think the athletic director and everybody here did a great job hiring him,” Barnette said. “I think he’ll be perfect for the program.”

“I think with the returning players and the new recruits coming in the new coach will bring it all together so we can develop something into a winning tradition,” said graduate assistant coach Jessica Liddy Wallace.

Senior infielder Summer Wilkinson said she hopes Anderson will carry the Lions to success next season.

“I’d like to win my last year,” Wilkerson said.

The Lions roster currently includes eight returning players and eight recruits from the early signing period. Coach Anderson will take the NCAA recruiting test Friday, and will begin recruiting as early as this weekend, said Mark Linder, director of athletics at UNA.

Anderson stood out early on in the search for a new softball coach, numerous UNA Athletics officials said.

“He was pretty impressive on paper and then on a phone interview he was very impressive also and then when he came to campus he handled himself well,” Linder said.

Linder also pointed out that in Anderson’s first year at CBC he accomplished a record of 29-9, despite having only three returning players.

“He’s built a tradition to success, and that’s what we’re looking to bring here to UNA,” said Shane Hermann, assistant sports information director.

Anderson said he is confident in his ability to make UNA a winning team. Though he is moving to Division II program from a Division I program, he said he is familiar with the GSC and knows what it takes to win at this level.

“I just plan on really trying to develop a winning attitude, put a quality product on the field,” Anderson said. “We’re going to play the game the right way and every time we go out I want to represent UNA and this town in a very, very positive manner.”