Shawn Hendrickson enters his sixth year as head coach of the Transylvania softball team for the 2020 season.
Hendrickson’s stewardship has brought the Transylvania softball program into its most robust era over its 22-season existence, defined by a transformative, team-oriented culture along with a tradition of consistent winning and annual postseason success.
Hendrickson guides the Pioneers into their latest season coming off three straight appearances in the NCAA Division III Softball Tournament for the first time in school history.
During the 2019 season, Hendrickson spearheaded the Pioneers to a 29-13 record and a 14-2 record in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season to finish second in regular-season play. The regular-season set the stage for a dominant run through the HCAC Softball Tournament where the Pioneers swept all three opponents by a combined score of 13-5 to clinch their third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth.
The Pioneers also wrote their latest chapter of history with their third consecutive appearance in an NCAA Regional, concluding in three games in Demorest, Georgia. The 2019 season also featured two wins over top 25 ranked opponents and an appearance in the NFCA Top 25 in the first week of March where the Pioneers were ranked 23rd in the country.
Hendrickson oversaw three players achieving NFCA All-Region Honors in the Central Region: sophomore pitcher Kameron Bowling to the first team, senior infielder Brittany Mumford to the second team, and senior outfielder Shelby Gambrell to the third team. Under Hendrickson, Bowling was also named the HCAC Pitcher of the Year, an All-American Honorable Mention by Fastpitch News. The Pioneers fielded Mumford as the HCAC Most Valuable Player as four players were named to the conference’s first team and nine players in total received HCAC postseason accolades.
During the regular season, the Pioneers were a nationally-prominent defensive team, ranking 16th in the country in fielding percentage (.971) and 40th in earned run average (2.30 ERA). Bowling ranked 30th nationally in strikeouts (138) and had a top-40 ERA in the country (1.46 ERA).
The 2018 season for the Pioneers under Hendrickson delivered another series of milestones, highlighted by Transylvania’s second straight trip to an NCAA Regional, its third consecutive Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular-season championship, the program’s fourth-highest mark for single-season wins (34), and senior pitcher Renae Morton capturing NFCA Third Team All-American honors as well as her second straight HCAC Pitcher of the Year award.
The Pioneers turned in another spectacular season during Hendrickson’s most recent campaign, fielding a 34-9 overall record and a 14-2 record in HCAC play, clinching first place in conference and the third straight conference regular-season title. Along the way, Transylvania furnished two NFCA All-Region players in Morton and junior infielder Brittany Mumford. Morton produced one of the most decorated single-season campaigns by a Pioneer pitcher, finishing third in the country in earned-run average with an 0.84 ERA, ranking 15th nationally in strikeouts and first in the HCAC with 183, and leading the HCAC in wins with 19. The Pioneers featured a battery that turned in a 1.17 team ERA, which ranked second in the country and was the second-lowest single-season ERA for a Transylvania softball team.
The 2018 season featured offensive proficiency across the board for the Pioneers, who led the conference in doubles (71), triples (13), extra-base hits (102), and ranked second in total bases (490), walks (109), and runs (218). Mumford ranked third in the conference in hits and ranked top-5 in slugging percentage as the Pioneers displayed their might as a complete team.
The statistically transcendent 2018 season came on the heels of a historically unparalleled 2017 season which saw the Pioneers reach the Super Regional of the 2017 NCAA Division III Softball Tournament for the first time in school history.
The 2017 season brought about Transylvania’s second-consecutive Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular-season title as the Pioneers went 12-4 in conference play. Their regular-season run set the stage for a momentous tournament journey.
The Pioneers marched through the 2017 HCAC Conference Tournament, sweeping through all three of its opponents to win their first tournament title since the 2010 season. The Pioneers’ conference tournament success bloomed into NCAA Tournament success: Transylvania dominated its opening-round regional, defeating Emory & Henry before defeating No. 2 ranked Berry back-to-back by scores of 6-0 and 8-0 (5 innings).
Transylvania’s success at Berry sent the Pioneers to their first super regional in school history, where they battled Illinois Wesleyan to the brink before falling in the deciding game 3 in 11 innings.
When the dust had settled, the Pioneers had completed a 35-13 season, finishing the year ranked 14th nationally in the NFCA Top 25 Coaches Poll.
Hendrickson’s 2017 squad yielded a collection of high performers, including Morton, who was named to the NFCA All-Region Third Team and earned her first of two HCAC Pitcher of the Year awards, all-HCAC First Teamers in Mumford and Shelby Bailey, and All-HCAC Second Teamers Sydney Motell and Shelby Gambrell.
Transylvania’s quick ascent to a new standard of excellence under Hendrickson has come in nearly record time.
Hendrickson’s arrival to Transylvania in the fall of 2014 set the stage for a near-instant turnaround.
Inheriting a team that finished 10 games below .500 in 2014, Hendrickson quickly assembled a team that went 13-23 in his first season as he rebuilt the culture at an accelerated pace in his first year at Transylvania. While the Pioneers ran out of steam his first season in Lexington, his initial squad collected 13 poignant wins that would set the foundation in place for a competitive, blue-collar future.
In Hendrickson’s second year in Lexington, the Pioneers were selected to finish eighth in their conference in the coaches’ HCAC preseason poll. The Pioneers blew those expectations out of the water and shocked the conference, winning the regular-season conference title on the final day of the season against Anderson to top the standings and earn the number one seed in the conference tournament.
Hendrickson’s 2016 season was a year to remember for Transylvania; the Pioneers went 26-13 overall, including 14-2 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play en route to the regular-season crown. Under Hendrickson’s leadership, the Pioneers produced the HCAC Hitter of the Year in Krista DeBurger and HCAC Pitcher of the Year Jamie Lutes.
In 2016, the Pioneers ranked in the top-40 nationally in scoring, the top-35 in batting average, the top-30 in doubles per game, and the top-25 in home runs per game and slugging percentage. In recognition of his team’s prolific season, Hendrickson was named the 2016 HCAC Coach of the Year.
Hendrickson’s 2016 Pioneers vaulted Mumford to the All-HCAC First Team, while a trio of freshmen in Jessica Powell, Meg Liter, and Gambrell were named to the All-HCAC Second Team. In all, eight Pioneers received All-HCAC recognition for the 2016 season.
In 2016, Mumford and DeBurger were named to the NFCA All-Central Region Team; DeBurger’s 2016 season saw the first baseman lead the HCAC in runs, home runs, total bases, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage while ranking fourth in conference in batting average. During Mumford’s first season under Hendrickson, the second baseman ranked eighth in conference in batting average (.389) and had 49 hits, which ranked fourth in the HCAC.
In 2015, Hendrickson saw three of his players named to the All-HCAC team with two Academic All-Conference selections.
Prior to his arrival in Lexington, Hendrickson assembled a wealth of coaching experience totaling over 25 years. Hendrickson came to Lexington from Finlandia University in Hancock, Michigan where he spent six years. The longtime softball coach completed a similar turnaround project at Finlandia, as his team went 76-27 over his final three years there. Hendrickson was recognized with three straight NCAA Division III Independent Coach of the Year awards from 2011 through 2013.
Hendrickson’s Finlandia squads also ranked nationally in the top-50 in multiple offensive categories; during his tenure up north, Finlandia also furnished the NCAA’s top RBI-producer, the national leader in batting average, and national run leader in the school’s first All-American, catcher Alexis Lawley.
Hendrickson’s annual goals for Transylvania softball are for each of his players to exceed their individual capabilities and build a winning record.
Prior to coaching collegiate softball, Hendrickson coached high school athletics for nearly 20 years in basketball, softball, and baseball. During his time as a high school athletics coach, Hendrickson received two Michigan High School Athletic Association Regional Coach of the Year Awards.