Eastern Kentucky University (1998)
Ssan Jacinto College: 524-309
Entering her 15th season at the helm of the San Jacinto College softball team, Hall of Fame Head Coach Kelly Saenz has built and maintained a respected softball program that has taken the College to new levels and put the institution on the national radar. Since her arrival at the South Campus, Saenz’s teams have won 63 percent of their games, and did what many thought they couldn’t do in 2008 – earn the College’s first-ever berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national tournament.
Softball has always been a way of life for Saenz, who was one of Winnipeg, Canada’s, top players as a youth. A star shortstop with a power bat, she eventually helped the Smitty Midget girls division team to a pair of Canadian championships. For her efforts, Saenz and her former teammates were inducted into the Softball Canada Hall of Fame in 2015. Smitty won three straight Canadian Championships from 1994 through 1996, and Saenz was a member of the 1995 and 1996 squads. She was also inducted into the Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame in 2014.
The 2017 season brought yet another Region XIV championship to the South Campus, along with the team’s fourth appearance in the NJCAA national tournament. On the way to finishing eighth in the nation with a 43-21 overall record, Saenz’s players racked up the accolades. Pitcher Niki Gonzalez re-wrote the record books, and was named the Region XIV Pitcher of the Year, a first-team NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) All-American, and NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association) second-team All-American. Five of Saenz’s players were named to the Region XIV all-conference first team, and two earned all-Region XIV first team honors. For their efforts, Saenz and her staff were named the NFCA Midwest Region Coaching Staff of the Year.
In 2016 the San Jac softball team claimed the NJCAA Region XIV championship title and advanced to the national tournament for a third time, finishing seventh in the nation. With an overall record of 38-25, seven players earned NJCAA and NFCA honors, with two of them being the sister pitching-catching force Niki and Gabby Gonzalez. Gabby finished the regular season with six doubles, one triple and 10 homeruns. She also won the NJCAA National Softball Tournament Home Run Derby. Niki finished the regular season with 27 wins, 302 strikeouts and a team-best 1.94 ERA. She also received NFCA first team Midwest Region All-American honors and third team All-American.
In 2015 Saenz’s team finished seventh at the Region XIV tournament, with an overall record of 34-25, 15-9 in regional play. Carah Nunez recorded a stand-out season, as she was selected
by the NJCAA Softball Coaches Association as one of 16 softball student-athletes to represent San Jac on the NJCAA All-Star team. She was also a NJCAA Marucci Elite Hitter, first-team All-South conference and first-team all-region honoree. In all, San Jacinto College had five players named to the NJCAA All-Region XIV team, nine players earn a spot on the Region XIV All-South Region team, and Gabby Gonzalez was named a National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Midwest Region All-American.
Saenz’s 2014 team posted a second-place finish in the Region XIV tournament which earned them a return trip to the national tournament, where they finished fifth. Saenz’s team went 41-24, the sixth 40-plus win season for the Hall of Fame coach, and saw three players earn NFCA Division I All-American honors. Jessie Rodriguez earned national recognition when she was earned the NJCAA national tournament’s most outstanding offensive player and the Marucci Elite Hitter Award. In addition, seven San Jacinto College players earned Region XIV recognition.
In 2013, Saenz led her squad to another 40-win season, finishing with a 40-27 record. Six players earned NJCAA Region XIV South Conference honors, and three signed National Letters of Intent to continue their education and softball careers at four-year universities.
Saenz notched her 300th career win during the 2012 season, and guided her team to a final NJCAA ranking of 11th in the nation. San Jac finished the season 45-13 overall, 19-5 in conference play. Ashley Noak broke the single-season doubles record with 26; and pitchers Shannon Millman, Alexis Estrada, and Brooke DuBois broke the single-season saves record with 14. That team also had six players named NJCAA Region XIV players and pitchers of the week.
Saenz guided the 2011 team to a 40-21 overall record. That year’s squad finished fifth at the Region XIV tournament. Six players earned All-Region and All-South Region honors, and two went on to continue their softball and academic careers at NCAA or NAIA institutions.
San Jac finished the 2010 season with a 28-26-1 record, and a surprising third place finish at the conference tournament. Six players were named to the All-South Region team, and two earned NJCAA Region XIV All-Conference honors. In addition, three went on to continue their softball and education careers at four-year universities.
In 2009, Saenz guided San Jac to a 42-19 overall record, 23-9 in conference play, and a second place finish in the Region XIV South Zone. Four of Saenz’s players earned NJCAA and National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) honors, including Kelsey McClain and Courtney Pettit, who were NFCA second-team All-Americans. McClain and Pettit also combined for eight school records, leading San Jac to another 40-win season.
Saenz’s team posted the most successful season in school history in 2008 when they won the conference tournament, advanced to the national tournament for the first time in school history, and finished fourth in the nation. Three players were named to the all-region team and NJCAA national tournament all-tournament team, four to the NFCA All-Midwest region team, and two to the NFCA All-American team. Saenz led the squad to a 41-17 overall record, the most single-season wins at San Jac for Saenz, and her coaching staff earned the NFCA Regional Coaching Staff of the Year award for the Midwest Region.
Saenz’s teams and players have had much of the same success since her arrival at the College in 2004. In 2006 and 2007, Saenz guided San Jac to sixth-place finishes at the regional tournament. In 2007, three players were named to the all-region team, as well as to the NFCA All-Midwest region team, while each season saw three student-athletes continue their academic and softball careers at NCAA institutions.
In 2004 and 2005, Saenz’s first two seasons at the helm of the San Jac program, her teams finished second and fourth, respectively, at the conference tournament. The 2005 team posted a 35-23 overall record with four players named to the Region XIV all-conference team and three NFCA all-Americans. In 2004, Saenz’s first season, her team posted a 38-23 overall mark.
Saenz began her collegiate coaching career at Frank Phillips College in Borger, Texas, where she spent the 2003 season with the Lady Plainsmen.
Saenz holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Education from Eastern Kentucky University, where she was the 1998 Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year. She went on to earn a Masters of Arts in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation from the University of South Dakota. Saenz and her husband, Mike, reside in Houston.
|Frank Phillips College|
|San Jacinto College|