Brandywine graduate named head coach for Saint Mary’s softballPublished 1:31pm Thursday, September 12, 2013
A 2006 Brandywine graduate is excited to share her passion for softball with the Saint Mary’s College Belles as she begins her new position as head coach this week.
Kelli Zache, 25, of Niles, has an extensive and impressive softball career, and she plans to use her own experiences as she begins coaching the Belles.
“I think all the knowledge that I have and all of the different branches and people that I’ve learned from in my [softball] career will speak for itself,” said Zache, regarding her young age.
In high school, Zache was a two-time first team all-state selection at Brandywine. After graduating in 2006, she pitched three seasons for the Broncos at Western Michigan University, where she threw a one-hit shutout win against Virginia.
After three seasons at WMU, Zache transferred to Bethel College in South Bend to focus on her academics.
“I felt like for me being an athlete, [Western] wasn’t so much academic-based as athletic-based. It was kind of weird, because my dad was diagnosed with cancer that fall. It was like it was God’s calling. I probably wouldn’t have finished out at Western anyway,” she said.
In her final season at Bethel, Zache was a first team all-region pitcher with a 22-5 record and a 1.77 ERA in 166.1 innings pitched. She was recognized as Mid-Central Conference Pitcher of the week three times, and added to the NCCAA All-Tournament Team at nationals and earned NCCAA All-American honors.
Zache said that she applied for the head coaching position at Saint Mary’s after what seemed to be another plethora of signs from God.
“I was in Atlanta for a job and had gotten word about the posting from a lot of people that I coached with. My mom even sent me a picture of the article,” she said. “I sent my resume in and they replied right away. I just happened to be flying home for a memorial tournament for my dad at NBGSA [Niles-Brandywine Girls Softball Association] anyway.”
In addition to her experience in the circle, Zache also has ample experience behind the plate and in the dugout. She gained coaching experience at the University of Notre Dame’s summer camps and as an assistant coach for Bethel College and St. Joseph High School. She was an American Softball Association certified umpire from 2008 to 2012.
The fall season for the Belles began Wednesday.
“I want my passion for softball to come through the game,” said Zache. “That’s why I took the job. Not many people get to choose a dream job, and I’m seizing this opportunity. I want to make everyone better on and off the field.”
She said that after some of the life-altering experiences she’s had in the last several years, she feels very strongly that coaching is more than teaching girls how to improve their game.
“I’ve learned a lot in my four years of college. If I can prepare kids for the real world, that’s ultimately what I want, because that’s what matters in the long run,” she said.