NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana announced Tuesday the hiring of Leslie Ballard as head coach of its recently launched softball program. She will begin her duties Monday (March 9, 2020).
“After a thorough national search, we are delighted to have someone with Leslie Ballard’s experience join the Xavier community,” XULA President Dr. Reynold Verret said. “We are excited to match our talented future student-athletes with coach Ballard’s background and dedication to create a great debut for Xavier softball. It will be fun to watch coach Ballard develop her program as it pursues success on the regional and national levels.”
Said Ballard: “I thank Xavier University of Louisiana for choosing me for this great opportunity. — I am beyond honored! To be able to start a program has really been a dream of mine, and now it’s becoming a reality. I’m blessed to have been chosen to do something that I’m very passionate about. The people that I’ve encountered here at Xavier have been nothing but kind and genuine to me throughout this process. They accepted me with open arms. The support of Xavier and the community is very comforting.
“I want to compete from the start even though we’re getting a late start with recruiting. I have the utmost confidence that this program will be competitive. My goals are to ensure that these ladies get a fine education and are able to compete within our league and nationally. I love the challenge of preparing our student-athletes for real life through the game of softball. I love what I do!”
Ballard is in her third season as head coach at Lane College, an NCAA Division II and Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference member in Jackson, Tenn. Ballard’s best season was in 2019 when the Dragons:
• Were 2-0 against SIAC regular-season champion Spring Hill — the Badgers’ only blemishes on a 17-2 conference record in 2019.
• Led the SIAC and ranked 11th in NCAA Division II with a .338 team batting average.
• Ranked seventh in NCAA Division II in stolen bases per game.
“Xavier University is excited to welcome coach Ballard to Team Gold as the leader of our new softball program,” said Jason Horn, XULA’s assistant vice president for student affairs/director of athletics and recreation. “Leslie brings to Xavier great passion and energy for softball and the all-around development of student-athletes. We look forward to supporting Leslie as she builds this program into a national contender.”
Ballard is a native of Nashville, Tenn., and a graduate of Lane, where she pitched and was second-team All-SIAC her senior year. That same season she was named to the SIAC All-Academic team.
XULA announced Sept. 24 that softball would compete in the 2020-21 academic year. The Gold Nuggets will compete for regional and national honors in the NAIA, which has 201 softball teams in 2019-20.