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UNCW hires Fayetteville native as softball coach

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- UNCW has a new softball coach. Kristy Norton becomes just the fourth coach in the 28-year history of fast-pitch softball at UNCW. She replaces Kelly Van Houten, who was let go in May.

Norton turned James Madison into one of the top softball programs in the CAA.

Under Norton's instruction, JMU featured the best offensive season in the program's history in 2007, setting single-season marks for batting average (.311), slugging percentage (.472), runs scored (278), home runs (42), and RBI (264). The Dukes were ranked nationally in batting average (14th), slugging percentage, (24th) and runs scored (36th) en route to a school-record 37 victories that season.

Norton has had 24 players receive a total of 42 All-CAA and CAA All-Rookie Team accolades during her time with the program, while two players, Ashley Burnham and Jenn Chavez, earned CAA Player-of-the-Year honors under her tutelage. Chavez was the first Duke to earn the award in 2007 and Burnham was the league's first two-time recipient (2010 & 2012).

"This is a fantastic opportunity and a great chance for me to really challenge myself as a coach," Norton said in a statement. "I look forward to working with the players as we build the Seahawk program into something the entire Wilmington community can be proud of."

Norton began her collegiate coaching career at her alma mater, serving two seasons as an assistant coach at UNC Greensboro (2003-04). Norton worked with the team's outfielders and hitters, developed the team's strength and conditioning program and coordinated travel arrangements. She also served as head coach of the Carolina Wildcats, an 18-under travel softball team, from 1999-2002

Norton enjoyed an outstanding collegiate playing career for the Spartans, earning All-Southern Conference and honorable mention All-South accolades during her four-year career (1999-2002). A durable second baseman that set team records for games started (252) and at-bats (785), Norton was also proficient at the plate, ending her career second on UNCG's career list for hits (222), doubles (41) and fifth in runs batted in (106).

A native of Fayetteville, Norton earned her Bachelor's Degree in Exercise and Sport Science with a minor in coaching from UNCG in 2002. She completed her Master's in Recreation and Sports Management in 2005.

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