19 Jul 2023 UCA softball’s Parsons earns Coach of the Year
CONWAY — Head softball coach Jenny Parsons has been justly rewarded for her leadership in 2023, earning both Extra Inning Softball’s Mid-Major Head Coach of the Year as well as a four-year contract extension from Athletic Director Dr. Brad Teague.
The honors come after the greatest season on the diamond in Central Arkansas history, with the Bears winning a program-record 45 games and reaching their first NCAA Regional since 2015. In Tuscaloosa, the program won its first ever Regional game, clobbering Long Island to the tune of 15-0.
“Coach Parsons led our program to extraordinary new heights during the spring of 2023. The amount of attention heaped on our program was impressive and well-deserved by this team,” Dr. Teague said of Parsons.
“Jenny had other opportunities to coach, but wanted to be the head coach for the Bears for years to come. We are pleased she will be here to lead our team.”
This season also saw a plethora of other awards for both Parsons and her squad, who received the program’s first national ranking in school history. The second-year skipper won ASUN Coach of the Year unanimously. She also guided her team to three ASUN superlatives and nine all-conference selections, both program highs since joining the ASUN. The Bears cruised to a 22-2 record in just its second season in the ASUN, landing two all-region players after the season.
“I’m happy where I am, I wanted to stay here, and I’m glad we were able to make that happen,” Parsons said of her extension. “I want to thank Dr. Teague and President Houston Davis for the support they’ve shown to me and to our program, and I’m excited to keep growing and keep pushing this team forward.”
Parsons and the Bears put together a ground-breaking season, defeating Arkansas for the first time in program history in March, downing the Hogs in Fayetteville 2-1. The Bears then finished the season sweep at home in April, shutting out Arkansas 4-0 in front of a Farris Field record 2,475 fans. With six wins over top-25 RPI teams, Central Arkansas finished the season with a program-best finish in the rankings, sitting at 20 following the year.
Extra Innings Softball named Parsons its Mid-Major Head Coach of the Year after the Bears soared into the national spotlight, posting some of the best pitching numbers in the nation. Behind ASUN Pitcher of the Year Jordan Johnson, the Bears captured the nation’s second-lowest ERA, allowing just 1.50 earned runs per game. Parsons, a Hall of Fame pitcher herself, has overseen the historic rise in pitching quality in Conway.”Coach of the Year is a really great honor, and it’s a testament to everyone involved with this team. My staff, my players, everyone bought in this year, and we saw the results of where that can take us.” Parsons added. “To put this team in a national spotlight comes with the work we’ve put in, and people are starting to take notice of our success.”
In addition to the pitching success, the Bears hung their hats on defense, compiling the fourth-highest fielding percentage in all of Division I. Combining the two skill sets, Central Arkansas held opponents scoreless 18 times, also one of the best marks in the country.
“Coach Parsons’ selection as Coach of the Year is well deserved. To finish with a top-20 RPI in this great and growing sport of softball is no small feat,” Dr. Teague said. “Jenny is a great coach, and I imagine this will not be her last coach of the year recognition.”