Jan. 7, 2013
By Courtney Brown - In her career as a pitcher at Alabama, Kelsi Dunne was a four-time All-American. She led the Crimson Tide to three Women's College World Series appearances. In 2009, she achieved an NCAA first by pitching consecutive no-hitters in postseason play.
But she's still not satisfied.
Dunne wants to win the College World Series--and in her new role as Oklahoma State's pitching coach, she intends to do just that.
"It fires me up just to think about it," Dunne said. "I get chills. That's something I never achieved as a player, and I would love it if our players achieved that."
Fresh off a year as a volunteer coach at Mississippi State, where she worked under her former Alabama pitching coach Vann Stuedeman, Dunne has already made the transition from player to coach. However, she's still adjusting to the differences.
"When you're playing, you're a part of the team," Dunne said, "but when you're coaching, you're helping the team in other ways instead of helping them on the field. I grew up playing softball my whole life. I understood the game and how to play it and how to compete. But there are other little things about coaching you have to understand."
Dunne has drawn on her recent college success to relate to her new players, and she's using her experience at Alabama to help them improve.
"Something I had to learn the hard way was how important a strong pitching mentality is," Dunne said.
"You come to college and you're 18-years old, and you're playing against 21- and 22-year old seniors who have had the highest level of experience and you haven't. You have to be positive, and you have to be competitive. You can't give in when you give up a home run."
Despite her numerous accolades and on-field successes, Dunne's experience at Alabama extended well beyond the pitching mound. A transplant from Daytona Beach, Fla., she was initially worried about the move to Tuscaloosa, but as she adjusted to life in Alabama, her softball team became her second family. When Dunne accepted the job in Stillwater, a town roughly half the size of Tuscaloosa, she was worried about the difficulty of transitioning to a new place once again.
"When you go to a town where you don't know anyone, that's kind of scary," Dunne said. "But you know that you're joining a team."
As she grows accustomed to life in Oklahoma, Dunne said she is able to rely on OSU head coach Rich Wieligman and assistant coach Tom Gray for assistance and mentorship. Now, with softball's fall season complete, Dunne is ready to focus on the legacy she will leave with her players as a coach.
"As a player, I always told my coaches that I wanted to be known as the competitor," Dunne said. "I left my heart and soul on the field when I was wearing that Alabama jersey. Now, as a coach, I want to give the girls every chance to improve and to go out and win the World Series."
Should the Cowgirls go out and win the World Series, maybe Dunne will finally be satisfied. However, regardless of her win-loss records, it's evident that Dunne's strong work ethic and love for the sport of softball will never diminish.