Greenville, S.C. -- Wally King, who guided Furman softball to a 41-15 record this season as interim coach, has been named as the program's new head coach, it was announced on Monday by Paladin director of athletics Mike Buddie.
"It's an honor to lead this program, and I am very thankful to Mike Buddie and Furman University for the opportunity to continue to build on what we were able to accomplish this past season," said King. "We have a group of outstanding student-athletes, who are committed to being successful on the field and in the classroom."
The Paladins' 41 victories during the 2018 season ranked as the second highest total in school history and most by a Furman team since 1988.
"We are thrilled to remove the 'interim' tag from Coach King and make him our full time coach," said Buddie. "After winning 41 games in his first spring in Greenville, it was a fairly easy search to conduct. Coach King will bring a new level of player development, hard work and success to the program and continue to elevate the profile of Furman Softball."
Under King's leadership, Furman ranked among the top two in the Southern Conference in runs scored (256/ 2nd), triples (10/1st), homers (57/2nd), stolen bases (84/1st), earned run average (2.30/2nd) fewest walks allowed (96/1st) and strikeouts (404/1st) this past season. Left-hander Lindsey Bert garnered SoCon Pitcher of the Year honors and was joined on the All-SoCon First Team by second basemen Casey Bigham and pitcher/designated player Emily DeMonte. Corner infielders AnnaRose Borrelli and Hannah Reynolds were selected to the All-SoCon Second Team. Bert, who posted a 28-9 record in the circle and 1.51 ERA, rank among the NCAA leaders in victories (28/9th) and shutouts (14/2nd) while leading the country with a SoCon single season record 353 strikeouts.
King, who spent the 2017 season as an assistant coach at the University of South Florida, joined the Furman softball coaching staff as an assistant coach last July before being promoted to interim head coach this past fall when head coach Kyle Jamieson resigned. The 51-year-old helped lead the USF Bulls to a 32-24 overall record and 9-8 mark in the American Athletic Conference in 2017 after serving as head coach at Division II Ferris State the previous year. During his tenure with Ferris State, King guided the Bulldogs to a 36-18 mark and the school's first Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) tournament appearance in three years. Ferris State's 36 wins in King's lone season in charge represented a 20-win improvement from 2015.
King was the associate head softball coach at Syracuse from 2008-13, helping to guide the Orange to four straight 30-win seasons and consecutive Big East Conference Championship bids. Syracuse made its deepest postseason run ever in 2012 as the Orange advanced to the NCAA Regional finals and defeated its highest nationally-ranked opponent ever with a 1-0 victory against second-ranked Arizona State in the NCAA Tournament. SU finished the year listed among the nation's top 25-ranked teams for the first time.
Prior to joining the Syracuse staff, King served as the assistant coach at Trine University in Angola, Ind. While with the Thunder, King helped guide the squad to the most wins in school history (31) and its first national tournament appearance. The team set school records in runs (251), doubles (70), home runs (24), RBI (212) and had a league-best ERA.
Before his time at Trine, King served as a volunteer assistant coach and hitting instructor in 2006 at Bowling Green State University.
A National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) member, King began his coaching career on the collegiate level at Grand Rapids Community College as the assistant softball coach and head recruiter. During his three seasons with GRCC, King helped develop the program into a national title contender with back-to-back World Series appearances.
King also brings an extensive playing background with two of the world's top five teams in a fastpitch softball career that spanned from 1985-2003. Between 1998 and 2002, King was the starting centerfielder for the Midland Explorers, the fourth-ranked team in the world, and he spent 2003 with the third-ranked Waterloo Hallman Twins. He was a first-team All-American, as well as state and national tournament MVP with the Kamphuis Pipeline in 1997. In 1996, King helped lead the Midland Metros to the national championship.
A former prep standout at Forest Hills Central High School, King played collegiate baseball for Hope College from 1985-88 where he earned bachelor's degrees in both sociology and psychology. He later earned his master's degree in social work from Grand Valley State University in 1994.