Photo and story courtesy of Dartmouth Athletics Communications
HANOVER, N.H. -- Dartmouth College Director of Athletics & Recreation Harry Sheehy has announced the hiring of Shannon Doepking as head coach of the Big Green softball program. A four-year standout catcher at Tennessee, Doepking previously served as the head coach of Amherst College.
“First, I would like to thank Harry Sheehy, Megan Sobel and Dartmouth College for this amazing opportunity to lead the softball program,” said Doepking. “I think Dartmouth is a special place that is fully committed to their student-athletes both on the field and in the class room. The team is so well rounded in every area of the game, that I really look forward to building on the amazing job that Rachel (Hanson) did."
Doepking replaces Rachel Hanson, who took the same position at Stanford in July. Prior to her tenure at Amherst, Doepking was an assistant coach at Stony Brook and Fairleigh Dickinson after enjoying a five-year professional career in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league. In her only season with the Lord Jeffs, Doepking won 21 games.
"I am thrilled to welcome Shannon to the Dartmouth athletics department family,” commented Sheehy. “She brings great passion to the position along with a terrific background as a player and coach. She will work tirelessly to maintain and improve the program."
An assistant coach during the 2013 season, Doepking helped guide Stony Brook to a 35-25 overall mark, one win shy of tying a program record. The No. 4 seed in the America East tournament, the Seawolves dropped their playoff opener before reeling off four consecutive victories in elimination games to become just the third No. 4 seed in league history to claim the conference title.
Defeating top-seeded Albany twice en route to the America East crown and a second NCAA regional berth, it was just the second time in league history that a team lost its opening game before rallying to win the championship. Six players earned all-conference recognition for their efforts, including catcher Alexandra Pisciotta, who garnered praise on both the all-conference first team and all-rookie squads.
A hitting and pitching coach at FDU before her stint at Stony Brook, the Knights saw a 10-game improvement from 2010 to 2011 as the program posted its first winning season (26-22). The squad continued to make strides the following year with a 30-20 overall record.
The year before to her arrival, FDU was ranked sixth in the Northeast Conference in batting average (.261) and last in team earned-run average (5.68). In 2011 the Knights lowered their ERA by more than two runs (3.44), while raising their production at the plate (.273). The following year saw another jump in the team’s statistics as FDU led the league in batting average (.309), while sitting third in team ERA (2.73).
Getting her coaching start as an assistant at Brentwood Academy in 2010, Doepking was an accomplished player in her own right, enjoying a decorated four-year career at Southeastern Conference (SEC) power Tennessee (helping the Lady Vols to an impressive 246-46 (.842) record from 2005-08, she played in three consecutive Women’s College World Series from 2005-07). Named to the freshman All-SEC team in 2005, she was a first-team all-league selection as a junior, while also earning All-South Region accolades.
"Shannon is a bright young coach who is a dedicated student of the game,” said Tennessee co-head coach Karen Weekly. “She was a very intelligent and instinctive player as well as a terrific field general, qualities that serve her well as a head coach. She understands that the student comes ahead of the athlete and is a great fit for Dartmouth."
Graduating with a degree in sociology, she continued her playing career after graduation as the 15th overall pick in the 2008 NPF draft by the Akron Racers. Enjoying stints with the USSSA Pride and the Tennessee Diamonds, she signed with the Chicago Bandits prior to the 2011 season. She caught Monica Abbott’s perfect game on Aug. 4, 2011, and helped Chicago capture its second NPF championship later that year. Earning a master’s of sports administration from FDU, she announced her retirement from professional softball after five seasons on Feb. 4, 2013.