Bowling Green, Ky. — Western Kentucky University Director of Athletics Dr. Wood Selig announced Monday that Tyra Perry has been named the school’s head softball coach.
Perry, who comes to the Hill after leading Birmingham Southern the last six years, is the third head coach since the program’s inception in 2000.
“We are extremely excited to have Tyra joining our coaching staff,” said Pam Herriford, WKU Associate AD/SWA who oversaw the search. “She has a strong softball background as a player at LSU and a head coach — Tyra’s overall experience, as well as her enthusiasm for the sport, makes her the perfect individual to continue our program’s rise in the Sun Belt Conference.”
She is just a year removed from leading the Panthers — who began play in 2002 — to their first-ever winning record after guiding BSC to a 28-21 finish, including a 7-5 mark to tie for third in the Big South Conference, in 2006. Perry recorded 146 wins overall at the school, including winning at least 25 contests in each of the last five years, while posting a 36-39 mark against Big South opponents (the school was not eligible for the league title in 2002 and ’03 as a provisional NCAA Division I member).
Last spring BSC was 25-37, earning victories over conference co-champions Liberty and Winthrop — which advanced to the title game of its NCAA Regional — as well as Chattanooga, South Alabama and UAB. The Panthers were 25-32 in 2005 and 25-34 in ’04 including a 6-6 Big South finish, while it took just two seasons for Perry to lead BSC to a winning league record after going 8-4 in conference action in 2003.
In all, Perry has had 15 players earn postseason honors from the Big South Conference with a high of five following both the 2005 and ’06 campaigns.
In addition to her coaching duties she helped oversee construction of the BSC Softball Park, a $2.5 million facility that has chair-back seating in the grandstands as well as a state-of-the-art locker room and press facility.
Perry was the head coach of a Southeastern All-Star team that played the United States Olympic squad prior to the 2004 games in Athens, was the guest speaker at the Alabama High School Athletic Association All-Star Sports Weekend, and has served as camp director and instructor at LSU, Alabama and Auburn in the offseason since 2000.
Last year, Perry added the title of Assistant Athletic Director/Senior Woman’s Administrator to her duties, serving as BSC’s compliance director, and she completed a compliance internship at Louisiana State from 1998-00 before becoming a head coach.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to work at Western Kentucky University,” said Perry. “When I first stepped on campus, it not only felt like home, but a place where I could come and continue to build on an already solid program. I really enjoy the enthusiasm for all the programs that I have seen — the people are very genuine at WKU.”
Perry is a 1997 graduate of LSU, earning her degree in kinesiology before adding a master’s degree in sports administration from the school a year later. She lettered for the Tigers for two years in 1997 and ’98, helping the school to a combined 102-28 (78.5%) record, a 58-14 (80.6%) mark in Southeastern Conference play, two SEC West Division titles and the school’s first-ever NCAA Regional Tournament appearance where it finished second.
She was a second-team National Fastpitch Coaches Association all-South Region selection her first season — adding first-team all-Louisiana honors as well as a place on the league’s all-tournament team — after leading LSU with a .345 batting average, 11 home runs, 40 runs scored, a .416 on-base percentage and a .612 slugging percentage. Perry actually led the team in homers again a year later, and she paced the squad in walks in both her seasons.
Off the field, she was twice named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
Perry takes over a program that posted 30 wins a year ago, the sixth time in its eight-year history that the Hilltoppers have accomplished the feat.