Southwestern Randolph graduate Alex Coleman has joined North Carolina’s softball team. (Courtesy photo)
Former Southwestern Randolph player follows college coach
Alex Coleman said she relished her time as a college softball player at Marshall. She said she’s hoping for something even more as she follows her coach to North Carolina.
The former Southwestern Randolph standout has become a Tar Heel.
“I kind of made a decision to enter the (transfer) portal and it was a really hard decision,” Coleman said.
Megan Smith Lyon left her position as Marshall’s coach to take the position at North Carolina, her alma mater. The good times that Coleman had with the Thundering Herd she hopes will resume with the Tar Heels.
The outfielder has two seasons of eligibility remaining.
“When I was young, I wanted to play there,” Coleman said of the university in Chapel Hill. “Playing for Carolina is a place every girl from North Carolina should really dream of. This will be good for everyone who wants to see me play.”
Megan Smith Lyon coached five seasons at Marshall following stops as head coach at Western Carolina and Kansas. Her husband, Corey Lyon, was on the Marshall staff and he has been named an assistant coach with the Tar Heels.
These moves come after Donna Papa retired from the North Carolina coaching position this spring after 38 years.
Marshall was 45-10 this year, marking a school record for wins.
Coleman put together a stellar season, starting all 55 games and batting in the lead-off spot for a majority of the games.
She was named All-Sun Belt Conference first team as she collected 79 hits to lead the Sun Belt and rank fifth nationally. Her 61 runs scored were one short of a Marshall record. Coleman, who batted .427, was sixth nationally with 42 stolen bases.
Her role “is to get on base and run,” she said.
A slap hitter, she said Smith Lyon has guided her the past couple of seasons.
“A lot of my success is due to her,” Coleman said. “I know what I’m getting into.”
The connection between Coleman and Smith Lyon was partly formed when Coleman played travel ball for the Carolina Cardinals.
Colman, 20, mostly played as a center fielder or left fielder as a freshman and then took a spot in right field as a sophomore. She said she received a few calls when her name was in the transfer portal, but the connection to the new coaching staff at North Carolina was clear.
Huntington, W.Va., was about a five-hour drive away for Coleman, so playing closer to home should have benefits.
“I really feel I owe it to myself to come home and compete at the ACC level,” she said. “The Sun Belt is no joke.”
The Thundering Herd with 160-70 under Smith Lyon. For Coleman, changing schools comes with some sadness as well.
“I love Huntington and fell in love with it,” she said. “It will always hold such a special place in my heart. Everybody loves Marshall and I love Marshall and always will.”