When the first pitch is thrown at Patricia Wilson Field Friday to begin the Stetson Lead-Off Classic, Hatter softball head coach Frank Griffin will have officially started his 18th season on the job. During the previous 17 seasons, Griffin has guided Stetson to unprecedented success, amassing 574 total wins, to go along with five 40-win seasons, an NCAA Tournament appearance and an Atlantic Sun Conference Championship. Now the most tenured coach in program history is close to making some history of his own, becoming only the 40th head coach in Division I softball history to reach the 800-win plateau.
“I’m looking forward to it and looking forward to moving on beyond that,” Griffin said of his approaching milestone. “I am very fortunate to have been at only two universities.”
Before his current post in DeLand, Griffin was the head coach at Winthrop for seven seasons, winning 225 games and managing a dozen losses or fewer in six of his seven years there.
“At both universities I had the ability to recruit because the product was so good, and that’s especially true here at Stetson with the high quality of academics,” Griffin said.
A common thread between Griffin’s time in South Carolina and Florida has been his association with Vanessa Bataille, who played for Griffin for four years at Winthrop and is now in her 15th season assisting Griffin at Stetson.
“Playing for him and now coaching with him has been a blessing and a tremendous honor,” Bataille said. “He is and has always been a winner. Through the years he has continued to challenge himself to further develop his own philosophy, while staying current on new tendencies in our sport and examining what strategies may best suit his current roster.”
That tireless effort has paid off for Griffin as he has continued to average more than 30 wins per year from his first decade on the job to his second. The second longest tenured coach in the A-Sun has amassed 11 seasons of 30 or more victories and five total years with 40 or more wins.
Griffin begins his quest for victory No. 800 this weekend at the seventh annual Stetson Lead-Off Classic as the Hatters host Michigan State and Rhode Island at Patricia Wilson Field. Stetson and Michigan State will square off first at 4 p.m. Friday, and then the Hatters will take on Rhode Island at 6 p.m. Three games are on the slate for Saturday as the Rams and Spartans play at 1:30 p.m., followed by Stetson and Rhode Island at 4 p.m. The Hatters and Spartans round out Saturday’s action with a 6:30 p.m. game. The final game of the tournament is scheduled for Sunday between Michigan State and Rhode Island at 12 p.m.
Season tickets start at just $55 and can be purchased at the Patricia Wilson ticket window or online at GoHatters.com/tix. Subscription based live video of the Stetson games will be available on HatterVision. Live stats, the Stetson softball twitter feed, and the Hat-Alerts text messaging system will provide in-game updates as well.