Bringing her Women’s College World Series experience to East Lansing, Sharonda McDonald-Kelley has been named Michigan State‘s head softball coach. Vice President and Sports Director Alain Haller made the announcement on June 10.
“I am thrilled to welcome Sharonda McDonald-Kelley to our Spartan family,” Haller said. “She has had great success as a coach and student-athlete, and has a plan to help Spartan softball achieve similar results. She is a teacher of the game, with a proven track record in skill development, helping student-athletes to maximize their potential as she did during her record-breaking college career. She has extensive experience in several successful major Division 1 programs. And with her demonstrated success in back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in As a head coach at Campbell, she has proven that she has the ability to successfully implement her approach in a short period of time.”
McDonald-Kelley has guided the Campbell program to a 101-81 record over the past four seasons, winning Big South tournament titles with the Camels in 2021 and 2022. McDonald-Kelley’s teams have gone 50-19 in the Big South game and have qualified for the NCAA Regionals in each of the past two seasons, scoring two of the five times a Campbell team has reached the NCAA tournament since 1986. In 2021, McDonald-Kelley was named coach of the year in Big South after his team won both the regular season and the Big South Tournament. securities.
“I want to thank God for this amazing opportunity,” McDonald-Kelley said. “I would also like to thank Vice President and Director of Athletics Alain Haller for the opportunity to lead Michigan State’s softball program. The vision for the softball program and the investment in that vision was clear to me from the start. I could feel the pride ingrained in the culture of Michigan State athletics and knew I would have the full support of the administration. Core values and family are very important to me. My family and I are excited to embrace Spartan culture and be part of the community.”
McDonald-Kelley steps into head coaching role following retirement of longtime Michigan State head coach Jacquie-Josephwho guided the team for 29 seasons.
“I have a lot of respect for Jacquie-Joseph, for the foundation she has built at Michigan State and for being an ambassador for softball, the Big Ten and the Michigan State program,” McDonald-Kelley said. “I look forward to building on the foundation she laid and will continue to push the program forward. I am truly honored and excited for this opportunity. We can build something really special here and I expect this team to compete for conference championships. I’m ready to get to work and put a great product on the field.”
In four seasons at the helm of the Campbell program, McDonald-Kelley coached 15 All-Big South winners, including seven first-team All-Big South, six second-team All-Big South and two honorable mentions. In 2021, outfielder Destini England earned Big South Player of the Year and Third Team All-Southeast Region honors under McDonald-Kelley.
Campbell has placed eight players on the All-Big South Tournament team during McDonald-Kelley’s tenure, including back-to-back tournament MVPs in 2021 and 2022.
Prior to Campbell, McDonald-Kelley spent the first 10 years of her coaching career as an assistant coach at Ohio State, Florida, Texas Tech, LSU, Ohio and Texas Southern. McDonald-Kelley also served as the head coach of the Chicago Bandits in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) League in 2017.
In his lone season at Ohio State in 2018, McDonald-Kelley helped the top-25 ranked Buckeyes to a 36-16 record with a trip to NCAA Regionals. Ohio State’s 36 wins were the most for the program since 2010. McDonald-Kelley spent two seasons in Florida as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator in 2016 and 2017, bringing a pair of recruiting classes Top-10 while the Gators went 114-17 and made an appearance in the 2017 Women’s College World Series.
The Houston, Texas native spent a year as an associate head coach at Texas Tech in 2015, following a two-year stint as a volunteer assistant at LSU. At LSU, the Tigers made back-to-back NCAA Region appearances in 2013 and 2014 with McDonald-Kelley coaching the outfield. McDonald-Kelley’s advice helped make AJ Andrews an All-American in 2013.
From 2010 to 2012, McDonald-Kelley served as an assistant coach at Ohio after beginning her coaching career at Texas Southern in 2009.
McDonald-Kelley was selected to the All-Big 12 four times as a player at Texas A&M from 2004 to 2007, capping her intercollegiate career with Texas A&M’s first trip to the Women’s College World Series in 20 years. A terror on the base paths, McDonald-Kelley is Aggie’s career record holder with 153 stolen bases, while also ranking second all-time in hits (249) and runs scored (195). McDonald-Kelley is the Texas A&M single-season record holder for runs (60), and her 73 consecutive stolen bases while at College Station tied an NCAA record. With 48 steals in 2005, McDonald-Kelley led the NCAA and won the Golden Shoe Award. She compiled a .338 batting average throughout her four-year college career.
After his career at Texas A&M, McDonald-Kelley played professionally for seven years, spending time with the Philadelphia Force, Akron Racers and USSA Pride of the NPF League. McDonald-Kelley played for Fiorini Softball Club of the Italian Professional League in 2009. A three-time All-NPF selection during her professional career, McDonald won the prestigious Diamond Spikes Award in 2012 after hitting .303 with 13 stolen bases for the Racers.
She received her Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology from Texas A&M in 2008.
McDonald-Kelley is married to Mike Kelley and the couple have a daughter, Kyler.