In her first six years, Sharon Perkins has turned the Georgia Tech Softball program into a fixture on the national scene. The three-time ACC Coach of the Year has led the Yellow Jackets to the NCAA Tournament in each season she has been here and continues to lead Tech to new heights. She has more wins in ACC play than any other coach in that stretch and has seen Tech break over a dozen school and ACC records.
The Yellow Jackets have captured three of the last four ACC Championships under Perkins leadership and have made an appearance in the NCAA tournament every year dating back to 2002.
Perkins guided the 2012 squad to yet another ACC championship as the team finished with a 37-23 record. Kelsi Weseman and Hope Rush were named to the NFCA All-Region Second Team for the second and third, NFCA region honors of their careers, respectively. Weseman garnered her second consecutive ACC Player of the Year award under Perkins’ guidance, making her the third ACC player in league history to earn the honor in consecutive years.
In 2011, Perkins continued her success while the Jackets finished the season with an ACC Regular Season title, their 10th straight NCAA Tournament appearance and a 45-12 record, 18-2 in conference play. Her success on the field translated to her third straight ACC Coach of the Year honor, making her the first coach in ACC softball history to earn the honor three consecutive times. She also helped the Jackets to be ranked in both polls 10 weeks out of the year, peaking at No. 16, and the squad ranked in the top 15 nationally in six categories, including batting average (14th), scoring (14th), win-loss percentage (10th), home runs per game (2nd), triples per game (14th) and led the nation in slugging percentage. Perkins aided Kelsi Weseman in her first career NFCA All-American honor, making her the eighth Jacket to be named an All-American, and fifth under Perkins’ tutelage.
In 2010, Perkins helped lead the Yellow Jackets to their second straight ACC regular season and tournament title while being named ACC Coach of the Year for the second straight year. Tech hosted its second consecutive NCAA Regional and was a national seed (No. 8) for the first time in program history. The Yellow Jackets spent the entire season ranked in the NFCA top 25 poll for the first time ever, including several weeks in the top 10. Georgia Tech finished the regular season with its highest ever national ranking at No. 7.
Perkins coached two All-Americans and senior Jen Yee was a finalist for the USA Softball Player of the Year award in 2009. Hope Rush also earned All-American honors and was named the ACC Freshman of the Year. Perkins helped produce six All-ACC picks and had a hand in the Jackets breaking several school and conference records.
A year of firsts in 2009, Perkins led the Yellow Jackets to a 46-15 record as they advanced to the schools’ first-ever Super Regional before falling to eventual national champion Washington. Tech finished 13th in both of the final NFCA and ESPN.com top 25 polls, as well as 12th in the RPI, all school bests. Georgia Tech was a national seed (No. 14) for the first time in program history and hosted a Regional and Super Regional for the first time as well.
Named the ACC Coach of the Year, Perkins’ squad won the league’s regular season and tournament championship for just the second time ever. The Yellow Jackets went 17-3 in ACC play in 2009 and won all seven series’ they played and 10 in a row dating back to 2008.
She coached the ACC Freshman of the Year in Kelsi Weseman and produced a league-high six All-ACC players and two Easton All-Americans in 2008.
After leading the Yellow Jackets to a school-record 54 wins in 2007 and its highest final ranking at No. 16, Perkins might have had her most difficult coaching task in 2008.
Despite numerous injuries to key starters, including just one healthy pitcher at one point in the season, Perkins guided the Jackets to a fourth-place finish in the ACC and their seventh-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Perkins’ 2008 Jackets sat below .500 in late March, but won 13 of their last 15 games to earn an NCAA at-large bid. Included in this streak was a doubleheader sweep of rival Georgia for the second-straight season. In fact, four of the program’s nine wins against the Bulldogs have come in four years with Perkins at the helm.
Senior Aileen Morales broke the all-time stolen base record in 2008, while junior Whitney Haller set a new Tech home run mark and her first home run of 2009 was an ACC record. In addition, senior Savannah Brown set school and league records for RBI.
Caitlin Lever, a 2007 graduate, and redshirt junior Jennifer Yee spent all of 2008 training with the Canadian National Team and played in the Beijing Olympics. The duo led the Canadians to a fourth-place finish, the best in its history. Yee led the team and was fifth of all players in batting average at the Olympics. In fact, she had the highest batting average (.348) of any non-Team USA player.
Three members of the 2008 team went on to play in the National Pro Fastpitch League. Savannah Brown was taken in the first round, fifth overall by the Rockford Thunder. Aileen Morales was a second-round selection (10th overall) by the Chicago Bandits, while Brittany Barnes was picked in the fourth round (23rd overall) by the Akron Racers. In addition, Whitney Humphreys spent the summer playing professionally in the Netherlands.
As a first-year head coach in 2007, Perkins led Georgia Tech to its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament. The Yellow Jackets shattered several Atlantic Coast Conference offensive records and made their third appearance of the last four years in the ACC Championship Game.
Among the dozen or so accomplishments under the direction of Perkins in 2007 were 96 home runs, surpassing the school-record 75 in 2006. That mark led the nation and finished as the ninth-best all-time total in NCAA history.
The Jackets set a new ACC record with 451 runs scored, tied for 11th-best all-time in NCAA history. They also went on to set new league season records in batting average (.322), total bases (1,027), RBI (416) and slugging percentage (.536). The Yellow Jackets tallied eight wins over top 25 opponents, including two over College World Series participants Baylor and DePaul. Perkins also led the Jackets to a school-first sweeping of her former employer Georgia in a doubleheader.
Another first for the softball program was two All-Americans in the same year. Senior Caitlin Lever became just the second Jacket to garner first team accolades, after setting a new single-season Tech record with 94 hits. She won the ACC batting crown with a .452 mark and signed to play professional softball with the Chicago Bandits. Junior Aileen Morales had her finest season as a Jacket, earning third team All-America honors. The shortstop from Columbus, Ga., hit .339, with an ACC record 73 runs scored and finished second in the league with 34 stolen bases.
Perkins’ banner first season in Atlanta also saw a league-high six All-ACC Academic picks, an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American and four first-team All-ACC selections.
Prior to arriving at Tech, Perkins spent six seasons at the University of Georgia where she helped build a strong program that was ranked in the Top 10 the last four years. The team made five straight NCAA appearances, including a Super Regional berth in 2005, won two Southeastern Conference titles and posted a 313-104 record. Perkins joined the Georgia staff for the 2001 season and was promoted to associate head coach in July of 2004. She previously spent two seasons (1999-2000) as an assistant coach at Southern Mississippi, where the Eagles made consecutive College World Series appearances and finished third in 2000, falling to UCLA 6-0 in the semifinals. Perkins has twice been part of a coaching staff that was honored as the National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association (NFCA) regional coaching staff of the year, at Southern Mississippi in 1999 and at Georgia in 2003.
Perkins was a standout player at Nicholls State, where she was a first-team All-Southland Conference shortstop as well as an Academic All-Conference student-athlete. She was named ENTERGY Corporation’s Louisiana Female Athlete of the Year and led the Colonels to their first ever NCAA Regional appearance. In her senior year, Nicholls State climbed to as high as No. 14 in the NFCA/USA Today rankings and finished with a record of 56-9. Perkins batted .357 that season and became one of two athletes in Nicholls State history to play on three Southland Conference championship teams. In September of 2009, Perkins was inducted into the Nicholls State Athletic Hall of Fame.
Perkins is a native of Sarasota, Fla., where she attended Riverview High School. The former Sharon Brander earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from Nicholls State (La.) in May of 1996 and was married on July 26, 1997, to Cris Perkins. Cris and Sharon have two children: Katie, who turned 11 on Oct. 17th, and Nicholas who will turn eight on March 13th. They reside in Suwanee, Ga.
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