UNCW Softball coach Kristy Norton resigns


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — UNCW Softball head coach Kristy Norton has resigned from her position to pursue other interests following a decade at the helm of the softball program.

Norton, the fourth coach in program history, departs with a 217-250-1 overall record in 10 seasons. The Fayetteville native guided UNCW to its first Colonial Athletic Association Championship with a resurgent 32-15 campaign in 2022. The 17-win increase represents the best single-season jump in school history.

“We want to thank Kristy for her terrific guidance and leadership of the program,” said Jimmy Bass, UNCW’s athletic director. “She has built UNCW softball into a championship-caliber program with top-notch student-athletes. While competing for championships, her teams also took pride in contributing to the betterment of our community.”

UNCW earned the CAA’s automatic NCAA tournament berth by winning three games in three days at the CAA Championship two weeks ago in Elon. The Seahawks upset the tournament’s top two seeds, Delaware and Hofstra, before downing the host Phoenix, 10-2, in six innings for the program’s first conference title.

The Seahawks boasted one of the best pitching staffs in the nation this past season, finishing with a 1.85 staff ERA to go with a school-record 308 strikeouts. The strong circle performance was attributed to freshmen Emily Winstead and Kara Hammock. The duo finished with the top two lowest ERAs in the CAA and became UNCW’s first CAA Pitcher of the Year (Winstead) and Rookie of the Year (Hammock) recipients.UNCW posted 23 complete games and pitched 10 shutouts in 2021-22. UNCW defeated perennial powerhouse James Madison, a 2021 Women’s College World Series participant, in a series for the first time since 2006. Norton picked up her 200th win as the Seahawks’ bench boss on March 6, 2022, in an 8-0 win against St. Bonaventure.UNCW steadily climbed the CAA standings during Norton’s tenure. The Seahawks increased their win total in each of her first five seasons, culminating with a school-record 35 wins in 2017. UNCW qualified for the first of three CAA tournaments under Norton that season and earned the program’s first-ever postseason berth with an appearance in the National Invitational Softball Championship.

In addition to the Seahawks’ first CAA Pitcher and Rookie of the Year winners, Norton also coached the program’s first Defensive Player of the Year (Kelsey Bryan, 2017) and Scholar-Athlete of the Year (Lauren Moore, 2017). UNCW had 19 players garner All-CAA honors while another 10 were named to the conference’s All-Rookie team under Norton, who arrived in Wilmington in June 2012 following eight seasons on the staff at JMU.

The Seahawks excelled as well in the classroom, where three Seahawks earned CAA All-Academic Team distinctions, including Moore in 2016 and 2017. Moore was also named a Third-Team CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2017, the first Seahawk to collect the national recognition since 1999.

A national search to find a replacement will begin immediately.

Categories: NC, New Hanover, Sports