The 10th-winningest active coach in NAIA history, Ralph Cole enters his 23rd season as Shawnee State Head Softball Coach Shawnee State in 2014. In his first 22 seasons at the helm of the softball program, Cole has compiled a career record of 599-293-2, a .670 winning percentage. Coach Cole is a nine-time recipient of conference Coach of the Year honors. The most recent honor came during the 2011 season he was named MSC Co-Coach of the Year. Cole was inducted to the Shawnee State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005.
One of the most memorable seasons for Shawnee State Softball came during the 1996 season when Cole guided his team to the 1996 NAIA National finals. During that season, the Bears ran off 42 consecutive victories, spanning from March 20 through May 17. Up until the 2012 season, that streak ranked as the longest winning streak in the country. It now sits second in the record book. To get to the finals of the national championship, Cole guided the Bears to victories over No. 1 Oklahoma City and No. 2 Hawaii Pacific in back-to-back games.
The Bears finished the 1996 season with a 44-4 record, the fifth-best single season winning percentage (.917 winning percentage) in NAIA history. The Bears also earned a third national distinction that season as they went 90 games without being shutout from March 19, 1996 through May 8, 1997. That is the second-longest streak in NAIA history.
Under his guidance, the Bears have qualified for the NAIA Tournament in six different seasons. During his coaching career, Cole has coached 13 players to NAIA All-America honors, 10 of which were first-team selections. Included in this list is four-time NAIA first-team All-American and 1997 NAIA Player of the Year Kim White. Under Cole, White was a four-time Conference Player of the Year. He has also coached three other players to Conference Player of the Year honors.
Inducted as a player into the Shawnee State Athletics Hall of Fame in its inaugural year, Amy McGuire enters her fourth season as assistant softball coach in 2014. During her playing career, she had a career batting average of .333, a .924 fielding percentage and 121 career assists at shortstop. She also led the Bears to their first NAIA National Tournament appearance. She was a four time All-MOC and four-time All-District Player.
McGuire is married and the mother of three boys. Her goal as a coach is to help get Shawnee State back to the nationals and win a National Championship alongside her father, and current head softball coach, Ralph Cole.
Katie Daniel graduated in 2006 from Fairview High School and was valedictorian of her class. She earned six Kentucky High School State Softball records for pitching, including 1,060 career strikeouts. She was 16th Region Pitcher of the Year for three consecutive years, and was selected for the 16th Region All-Area Softball Team all four years she played. From 2007-2010, she attended Shawnee State University. While attending SSU, she was an NAIA Scholar Athlete two years. She was an American Mideast Conference Scholar-Athlete, and a first-team All-AMC selection. Daniel contributed to the SSU Lady Bears Softball 2010 Conference Champions title with a 1.15 ERA in the AMC and a 1.66 ERA overall in her senior season. She now teaches math at East Carter High School and has served as pitching coach for the SSU Softball team since 2010.
Wayne Speas began his involvement with Shawnee State Softball in 2007. His daughter, Ashley, began her four-year career with the Bears that season. Speas began as a volunteer maintaining the softball field. Once his daughter finished her playing career, he became more involved in the coaching aspect of the program by assisting with the outfield and hitting and has never looked back. He has six children. Speas and his wife, Betty, reside in West Portsmouth.
Rob Appell enters his eighth season as an assistant coach with the Shawnee State softball program in 2014. In addition to serving as an assistant coach with the softball team, Appell is also in his eighth season as the head coach of the women’s soccer team and second season as the head coach of the women’s tennis program.
With his various coaching positions at Shawnee State, Appell is the only coach in the Mid-South Conference to serve as a head coach of two distinct varsity sports programs. With the softball program, Appell assists in creating the schedule and coordinating travel arrangements along with his coaching duties.
Prior to become a coach at Shawnee State, Appell was a goalkeeper for the men’s soccer team at Shawnee State from 2000-03. He accumulated a school record 459 saves over the course of his career. During the 2001 season, Appell made 209 saves in goal for the Bears. At the time, that mark ranked second in the NAIA for a single-season total. Today, it stands as the third-most saves in a single season in NAIA history. He also earned All-AMC recognition and was the Shawnee State University Branch Rickey student award recipient as a senior in 2003.
A native of Blacklick, Ohio, Appell is a 2004 graduate of Shawnee State University where he earned his bachelor's degree in Sports Management. Appell also works in the sports studies department as an adjunct instructor. He currently resides in Portsmouth, Ohio.
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