LUBBOCK, Texas (Texas Tech Press Release) – Adrian Gregory announced her inaugural staff at Texas Tech on Friday as Sharonda McDonald will join the program as associate head coach while Amanda Locke will serve as an assistant coach.
Gregory, who was named the seventh head coach in program history on June 6, hired a pair of Texas natives with extensive ties throughout the state for her first staff. McDonald and Locke were also successful student-athletes as both participated in the Women’s College World Series before playing professionally as well.
McDonald, a Houston native who played with Gregory at Texas A&M, will coach the Red Raider outfielders and slappers while also serving as first base coach. Locke will be Tech’s primary pitching coach and will also assist with hitting as well.
“I am stoked to bring in such an illustrious staff with both playing and coaching experience,” Gregory said. “They are both true testaments that Texas kids can play. With their knowledge of the game, will to win and passion for teaching the student-athlete, the sky is the limit. As the saying goes, what a great time it is to be a Red Raider.”
McDonald arrives at Tech following two seasons as the volunteer assistant coach at nationally-ranked LSU where she helped lead the Tigers to a pair of NCAA Regional appearances during her tenure. Similar to her new responsibilities at Tech, McDonald worked with the outfielders and left-handed slappers while at LSU and also helped oversee camp operations.
She arrived at LSU following a three-year stint at Ohio where she helped turn the Bobcats into one of the top offensive teams in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). Ohio combined for 82 home runs during the 2011 and 2012 seasons alone, marking the top two single-season totals in program history.
Her tenure at Ohio was highlighted by a 2011 MAC East Division title and an appearance in the MAC Championship game. The Bobcats posted winning records in MAC play in all three of her seasons.
McDonald began her coaching career as an assistant coach at Texas Southern in 2009. The Tigers, under McDonald’s guidance, flourished on the bases, doubling their stolen bases from the year before as she was charged with instructing the Texas Southern hitters and outfielders.
The former standout outfielder for Texas A&M has also played professionally throughout her coaching career as she is in the midst of her seventh professional season, six of which that have been played in the National Pro Fastpitch League (NPF). McDonald is in her first season currently with the USSSA Pride after spending the 2010-12 campaigns with the Akron Racers and the 2007-08 seasons with the Philadelphia Force. She spent the 2009 season playing with the Fiorini Softball Club of the Italian Professional League.
A three-time All-NPF selection during her career, McDonald garnered the prestigious Diamond Spikes Award in 2012 after hitting .303 with 13 stolen bases while with the Racers. She entered the 2014 season with a .280 career batting average along with 96 runs scored.
Her success professionally followed a stellar career at Texas A&M where she shared the field with Gregory during her freshmen and sophomore seasons (2004-05). One of the top hitters in A&M history, McDonald compiled a .338 batting average throughout her four seasons from 2004-07, the seventh-highest clip in program history.
McDonald is the Texas A&M all-time leader for both runs scored (195) and stolen bases (153) and owns the top two single-season marks in both categories as well. She led the nation with 48 stolen bases during the 2005 season alone on her way to garnering the Golden Shoe Award that is presented annually to the nation’s top baserunner.
McDonald, who also ranks second all-time at A&M for hits (249) and sixth for at-bats (737), is among the select few players to earn All-Big 12 honors all four years of her career. She was also a three-time NFCA All-Region recipient.
Texas A&M advanced to the postseason all four of McDonald’s seasons, highlighted by a trip to the Women’s College World Series as a senior in 2007. The Aggies claimed the program’s first Big 12 title in 2005 en route to finishing 47-10 overall with the opportunity to host the NCAA College Station Super Regional.
McDonald spent a year with A&M’s strength and conditioning staff after exhausting her eligibility. She received her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Texas A&M in 2008.
“I’m excited to come back to Texas and compete and play in a power conference like the Big 12,” McDonald said. “I’m looking forward to working with Adrian again and I’m thankful for the opportunity. She was one of the fiercest competitors and has always had a fire about her, so I’m definitely excited to be able to work with her now.”
Locke, meanwhile, joins the Tech program following two seasons as the pitching coach at Northwestern State where she helped lead the Lady Demons to two-consecutive Southland Conference Tournament Championships and a pair of appearances in an NCAA Regional.
Northwestern State’s advanced to the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional in 2013, marking the program’s first postseason appearance since the 2002 season. The Lady Demons returned to the postseason again this past year, advancing to the NCAA Waco Regional. Northwestern State had not previously made NCAA postseason appearances in back-to-back years prior to Locke’s arrival.
In her two seasons with the Lady Demons, Northwestern State won a total of 70 games, including 40 in 2013 which marked the program’s first 40-win season since 2002. The Lady Demons were just 19-31 the season prior to Locke’s arrival.
Locke tutored a pair of All-Southland Conference pitchers during her tenure in Kylie Roos and Kaylee Guidry, who earned second team honors in both of Locke’s two seasons. Roos finished 17-5 with a 1.54 ERA in 2013 for a Northwestern State program that cut its team ERA from 3.88 the year prior to Locke’s arrival to an impressive 2.15 average.
Locke’s hiring at Northwestern State followed a stellar playing career at Alabama where in 2012 she helped lead the Crimson Tide to the program’s first NCAA National Championship. She was an NFCA second team All-American and an All-SEC selection her senior year where Alabama finished 60-8 overall after topping Oklahoma for the national title.
The Mesquite, Texas native was also named the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2009 and was an NFCA All-Region honoree as both a junior and senior. She was also a member of the All-SEC Academic Team all four years as well.
Locke was the ultimate utility player for the Crimson Tide, appearing in a total 0f 224 games over her career as either a pitcher or position player. She is among the all-time offensive leaders at Alabama, ranking third for career home runs (54) and eighth for RBI (161).
Her senior campaign was possibly her best while in Tuscaloosa as she slugged a .703 percentage while recording 18 home runs, 56 RBI and 116 total bases, all of which ranked second in single-season history.
Locke totaled four RBI during the championship series against Oklahoma alone, driving a three-run double during the second game of the series before adding a RBI single in Alabama’s 5-4 victory in the finale that sealed the program’s first national title. The performance earned Locke WCWS All-Tournament honors.
“I an incredibly excited to begin working with Coach Gregory at such a prestigious university,” Locke said. “It is truly an honor to be at Texas Tech coaching alongside such a wonderful person and ambassador for the game. This position would not have been possible without Donald Pickett and Northwestern State giving me my first coaching opportunity three years ago. I can’t wait to begin my journey at Texas Tech and start winning championships with the Red Raiders.”
McDonald and Locke complete a Tech staff that already includes Brooke Reed, who will remain with the program as director of operations, and Sandy Wellmann who will fill the role of volunteer assistant coach.