ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – UCF softball head coach Cindy Ball has announced three additions to the softball staff.
Kendra Lynch, Jenn Salling, and Victoria Hayward will all bring a plethora of playing and coaching experience to the program.
"I am very excited to complete our staff with three incredibly amazing individuals in the game of softball and in life," stated Ball. "It is great to have some familiarity with Victoria and Jenn having worked with them at Washington, and I am very appreciative of a fresh voice from Kendra as well. Having two members of our staff still playing and competing to participate in the 2020 Summer Olympics is so powerful from a game development standpoint and player mentorship."
Lynch joins UCF as assistant coach after being the volunteer assistant at Florida State during the 2018 season.
“I am so excited to be a part of this staff that Coach Ball has put together,” said Lynch. “I can’t wait to get to work and see what this team can do.”
Prior to Florida State, Lynch wrapped up an outstanding four-year career at North Carolina, where the dual-threat pitcher and outfielder earned NFCA Second Team All-American honors in 2017 after batting .374 with 21 home runs and 68 RBI at the plate and posting a record of 11-4 in the circle as the Tar Heels reached the NCAA Regional finals.
A left-handed power hitter, she improved every season and was called upon to become UNC’s primary pitcher during her junior season, where she would go on to break five single-season pitching records. Saw action as an outfielder early in her career, before transitioning to a full-time pitcher as a junior and finally the Tar Heels’ primary DP in 2017.
In her four-year career, Lynch appeared in 208 total games, starting 206 of them. She totaled 188 hits, 32 doubles, a triple, 52 home runs, 168 RBIs, 378 total bases, 81 walks, seven sacrifice bunts, four sac flies and just 52 strikeouts over 587 at-bats. She Finished second all-time at UNC in career slugging percentage, home runs and RBIs, third in total bases and eighth in walks
Lynch is just the second Tar Heel ever to have at least as many home runs as strikeouts, with 52 of each. In the circle, Lynch made 114 pitching appearances, going 45-29 with a 4.42 ERA and 280 strikeouts over 496.0 innings. In her 84 starts, tossed 39 complete games, including six shutouts, allowing 313 earned runs and just 163 walks, as batters hit .298 against her.
“Kendra brings a strong playing background after competing at North Carolina where she carried her team in the circle and at the plate,” said Ball. “She will play a major role in the bullpen, game management of the pitching staff, and assist with our offense. Being a part of the Florida State’s staff while winning their first National Championship is exciting for our group and I look forward to her input with our team culture and student-athlete performance.”
Salling joins the UCF staff as the volunteer assistant and boasts an impressive collegiate and international softball career.
“Thank you to our head coach Cindy Ball for the opportunity to be a part of growing the softball program at UCF,” said Salling. “I had the good fortune of playing for Coach Bear while at Washington and I am certain that UCF softball is in great hands with Coach Bear as our leader as well as the rest of our staff.”
Salling joined the Washington coaching staff as its graduate assistant coach in the fall of 2015. Salling spent four years playing in the National Pro Fastpitch league and is a member of the Canadian National Team, which won the gold medal this summer in the 2015 Pan American Games.
Salling started her NCAA career at the University of Oregon before transferring to the University of Washington. In her freshman season with the Ducks, she was named the Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year. After redshirting the 2008 season to train with the Canadian Olympic softball team, she became eligible to play for the Huskies on April 2, 2009 and the sophomore started every game at shortstop to help Washington win their first National Championship.
In her first full season as a Husky in 2010, Salling earned first team NFCA/Louisville Slugger All-America, All-Pacific Region and All-Pac-10 honors. She was named a top-25 finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. She also excelled in the classroom, earning Academic All-Pac-10 honorable mention.
As a senior in 2011, Salling was named the Female Athlete of the Year at the WESPYs after being named a second team Lowes Senior CLASS Award All-American and NFCA All-American. She also earned Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, first team All-Pac-10 and All-Pacific Region awards. Salling left Washington ranked in the Husky career records for batting average (T-10, .342), triples (T-eighth, 7), walks (sixth, 97), slugging percentage (ninth, .543), on-base percentage (fifth, .474) and hit by pitch (T-10, 9).
She first joined the Canadian Senior Women's National Team in 2006 and competed in her first of three ISF Women's World Championships where Canada finished fifth and qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. She has represented Canada at both the 2007 and 2011 Pan American Games, earning a silver medal at both events, and was also an Olympian at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. At the 2010 ISF Women's World Championship, she hit .444 as Canada earned the Bronze medal, and hit .308 at the same event in 2012 when Canada finished fourth.
Salling, who was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 NPF Draft, spent four seasons in the professional ranks playing for the USSSA Pride (2011, 2012, 2013) and the Pennsylvania Rebellion (2014). She helped the Pride win the NPF Championship in 2013.
“Jenn is one of the best current infielders in the world and will bring a tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience to our infielders,” explained Ball. “She is one of the fiercest competitors I’ve coached, and I love that our young ladies can learn from her. Jenn is a true developer of the game and has great passion for growing the sport. I couldn’t be more excited for her to influence the game as a UCF Knight.
Hayward comes to UCF as the Director of Operations. Prior to UCF, she spent one season at the University of Maryland as an assistant coach.
“Victoria is another amazing competitor and a natural leader. She is going to oversee the day to day operations and will assist with video,” said Ball. “Though her duties are in the office, having Victoria as a part of our program and culture is what I really look forward to. Her confident spirit in the sport, the team, leadership, and in life is very contagious and will play a strong role in what we do here with Knights softball.”
Prior to Maryland, Hayward helped guide UMass to back-to-back winning seasons in 2016 and 2017. UMass was one of the top hitting teams in the Atlantic 10 in 2017, as the Minutewomen advanced to the conference title game while finishing second in the regular season standings. Batters/position players earned nine all-conference selections under her guidance, while three UMass hitters garnered NFCA All-Region selections during her tenure.
Hayward spent the 2015 season as a graduate assistant at LSU under head coach Beth Torina. The Tigers opened the year with 25-consecutive victories and spent three weeks as the No. 1 ranked team in the country, before ending the season with a 52-14 record and a third-place finish at the Women's College World Series. LSU's coaching staff was named the Division I South Region Staff of the Year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
“I can’t thank Coach Bear enough for the opportunity to continue working in the softball world as I pursue my Olympic dream with Team Canada,” said Hayward. “The staff she has put together is second to none and I can’t wait to be a part of the UCF family!”
Hayward has been a member of the Canadian Senior National Team since 2009. When she made the squad in 2009 at 16 years old, she became the youngest player ever to join the senior team. She has been a mainstay in the outfield and has won six medals in international competition. Hayward was the 19th overall selection in the 2014 National Pro Fastpitch Draft by the Pennsylvania Rebellion.
Hayward participated in four NCAA Tournaments at the University of Washington. She was a 2014 All-American, a four-time All-Pac-12 selection and a three-time Academic All-Pac-12 honoree (2011-14). UW won four NCAA Regional Championships during her career and advanced to the Women's College World Series in 2013. She finished her career ranked 12th in average (.351), 10th in triples (7) and seventh in runs (176) while stealing a league-best 28 bases as a senior without committing an error all season.
"Each of our new staff members are committed to thriving on the field, in the classroom and the community, and will be a tremendous resource to ensure a top-level experience for everyone involved in our softball program," added Ball. "I am most proud to be able to surround our student-athletes with an entire staff that has played softball at the highest level, and most importantly has all earned a master’s degree prior to their time here at UCF."