Ole Miss Softball Adds Ashley Chastain as Pitching Coach
Nov. 1, 2017
OXFORD, Miss. -- On Wednesday, Ole Miss softball coach Mike Smith announced the hiring of Ashley Chastain to his staff as assistant coach as well as the Rebels' pitching coach. Chastain comes to Oxford after serving in a similar role at Michigan State.
Chastain, a finalist for the Rising Star Award from One Dream Zero Distraction, is no stranger to the Southeastern Conference. The Palmetto, Georgia native pitched for three seasons at South Carolina, finishing 11th in career relief appearances for the Gamecocks. Following her playing career, she joined the South Carolina coaching staff as a graduate assistant coach.
"I'm grateful to Coach Smith and the Ole Miss administration for the opportunity," said Chastain. "I played in the SEC and it's always been a dream of mine to return to the conference as a coach."
Boasting one of the top pitching groups the SEC has to offer, Smith knew the importance of identifying the right person to continue the development of the Ole Miss pitching staff. Entering his fourth season at the helm of the Rebel program, he believes he has that in Chastain.
"Ashley has Power 5 pitching coach experience and has developed herself as one of the young, great pitching coaches among the ranks," Smith said. "We are fortunate to be able to add her to our program at this time of year and look forward to Ashley continuing the development of our pitching staff. She has a great group of pitchers to work with and help us in our quest to win a national championship."
Chastain joined the Michigan State staff prior to the start of the 2017 season, helping the Spartans to a 34-24 overall record and a run to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Upon her arrival in East Lansing, Chastain made an immediate impact on the Michigan State pitching staff as the Spartans lowered their team ERA by nearly a run and a half from the previous season.
Chastain was instrumental in the development of junior Bridgette Rainey, who led MSU with a 16-8 record with a 3.84 ERA and 145 strikeouts. Both of those marks were career-bests for Rainey, as was her 144 innings pitched.
Prior to making the move to Big Ten country, Chastain was the pitching coach for three seasons on Linda Kalafatis' staff at the College of Charleston, helping lead the Cougars to a 99-68 record over those three years.
Chastain's final season in the Palmetto State was particularly successful, as the Cougars concluded the campaign with a 35-23 record, registering program records in fielding percentage (.974) and errors (42). In the circle, Chastain's pitchers posted the eighth lowest opponent batting average in school-history at .242 as well as the ninth fewest runs allowed with 191.
Over her three seasons at CofC, Chastain produced four All-Colonial Athletic Conference honorees in addition to three NFCA All-Region award winners.
In addition to coaching acumen, working at the top level of collegiate softball requires the ability to bring in top talent. This truth is not lost on Chastain, who brings a bevy of experience on the recruiting trail to Mississippi's Flagship institution.
"Ashley will be a huge asset in recruiting as she has a great relationship with travel ball coaches across the country," Smith said. "Recruiting is a huge part of a coach's job and is really the lifeblood of our program, so I'm really looking forward to adding her expertise to our staff."
Chastain joins the Ole Miss coaching staff at the peak of Rebel softball. Ole Miss finished the 2017 regular season 36-18 before completing a magical run to the SEC Tournament Championship as the No. 8 seed, the highest seeded champion in conference history.
The Rebels kept the postseason push going, capturing an NCAA Regional Championship with wins over Southern Illinois, then-No. 22 Arizona State and North Carolina to reach the first NCAA Super Regional in program history.
All five pitchers from last season's Rebel squad return, including Second Team All-SEC honoree Kaitlin Lee as well as SEC All-Freshman selection Morgan Bruce. With a pair of talented freshmen also joining the fray, Chastain inherits a staff more than capable of building off of last season's special run.
"The SEC is one of the premier conferences in the game and it goes without saying that Ole Miss and the conference as a whole competes at the national level," said Chastain. "I'm excited to work with a pitching staff that accomplished so many great things last year and has such a bright future."
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