Anna Welsh became the first softball coach in Southeastern University history on July 1, 2012. She comes to the Fire with an impressive resume, and the experience of building a nationally recognized women’s softball program. Anna came to Southeastern after serving as the head coach at Bethel College (Mishawaka, Ind.) for eight years. In her eight years at the helm of the...
Originally from Bradley, Illinois, Anna graduated in 2001 from Olivet Nazarene University with a degree in Speech Communication. She excelled at Olivet as a two-sport athlete, playing both softball and basketball. While at Olivet she earned numerous awards as a shortstop and a catcher. Those awards include NAIA National Player of the Week, All-Conference, All-Region, NCCAA All-American, and NAIA All-American Honorable Mention. She was also a member of the 2000 NCCAA National Championship softball team.
At just 22 years old, she landed her first head coaching job with Saint Mary's College (NCAA D-III) in Notre Dame, Indiana, becoming one of the youngest head coaches in the NCAA. In her second season at Saint Mary's, she led the Belles to their first conference tournament championship in program history while also producing the 2004 MIAA Offensive Player of the Year, MIAA Defensive Player of the Year, and the MIAA batting champion. Anna and her coaching staff were also named the 2004 MIAA Coaching Staff of the Year.
Anna was named the head coach at Bethel in 2004, and helped rebuild the program into a national contender almost immediately. In 2005, Bethel went 33-21 and earned a trip to the NAIA Regional Tournament. The following season, Bethel won the MCC Conference title with a 14-2 record, and ended their season with a 37-23 overall mark. In 2007, the Pilots made their first ever trip to the NAIA National Championship while tying the school mark for wins with a 45-10 record. From 2008-2009, she once again led the Pilots to the NAIA National Tournament, finishing with records of 51-6 and 52-7 respectively. In 2010, Anna once again took her program to new heights, leading the Pilots to a No. 3 ranking nationally, which is the highest ranking in program history. That season the Pilots made their fourth consecutive trip to the NAIA National Championship, while advancing to the final eight for the first time in school history. 2011 was perhaps her best recruiting and coaching season to date, as the Pilots advanced to the NAIA National Championship for the fifth consecutive season, despite key losses at nearly every position. Despite what appeared to be a rebuilding season, the Pilots went 38-8 overall, won their respective conference championship, and returned to the NAIA National Championship for the fifth straight year. 2012 proved to be an up and down year as the Pilots entered the season ranked No. 12 in the NAIA Top 25 Coaches Poll. After a slow and injury filled start, the Pilots rebounded to reel off a perfect 18-0 conference record to win thier sixth title under Welsh. Despite the perfect conference regular season, the Pilots failed to win the confernce tournament and were shutout of making their sixth trip to the NAIA National Tournament. During the Pilots' run to becoming a national power, Anna has placed Bethel in the NAIA Top 25, 38 out of the 39 national polls, dating back to their first appearance on April 18, 2007. She is the all-time leader in wins for softball in Bethel history, with a career record of 365-134-2 including two years at Saint Mary's. Anna has also held high standards in the classroom for her teams. Since taking over the Bethel program, 17 of her players have been named NAIA Scholar Athletes. In 2009, the Pilots were awarded the Girls Got Game NAIA All-Academic Award, an award given to the No. 1 overall team G.P.A in the NAIA. The Pilots registered a 3.54 G.P.A. for the 2008-2009 academic school year. Also during her tenure at Bethel, she served the Pilots as an assistant athletic director, a responsibility that she will carry over to Southeastern.