Brad Irwin enters his eighth season at the helm of ETSU Buccaneer Softball as he was introduced head coach on July 21, 2010.
Irwin became the first coach in program history to guide the Blue and Gold to their first ever Southern Conference Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017. The 2017 Bucs finished the season at 29-26, marking the highest winning percentage in program history. In addition, it was just the second winning season in program history and the 29 wins were the second-most by any Buccaneer team. The historic season saw ETSU set single-season records in batting average (.285), doubles (80), RBI (218), walks (181), on-base percentage (.371), sacrifice flies (17) and saves (13). The Blue and Gold also went 13-5 (.722) at home, which set the single-season home winning percentage record. Senior Mykeah Johnson, sophomore Tiffany Laughren, and freshman Nikki Grupp either set or tied individual single-season records. Johnson broke the record for walks (41), while Laughren tied the record for doubles (18) and Grupp tied the mark for hit by pitch (9).
Overall, Irwin has coached 11 all-conference players during his time at ETSU, including Danielle Knoetze being named 2017 SoCon Player of the Year as she became just the second player in program history to earn the honor – the first since 2005. Knoetze was among ETSU’s single-season leaders in hits (4th, 64) and RBI (2nd, 43), while she ranked second all-time in batting average (.317) and third home runs (28). She also led the SoCon in home runs, slugging percentage (.629) and total bases (112), while ranking second in RBI, tied for third in hits, fourth in doubles, fifth in batting average (.360), seventh in runs (34), and 10th in on-base percentage (.397).
In the classroom, 49 student-athletes have been placed on the SoCon Academic Honor Roll and 23 earned all-conference academic honors. The Bucs recorded a 3.495 grade-point-average in 2010-11, which ranked ninth among NCAA Division I leaders, while eight Buccaneer players received National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American Scholar Athlete honors by posting a GPA higher than a 3.50 in the 2010-11 academic year.
Irwin, the top assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga since 2006, brings nine years of collegiate coaching experience to Johnson City. Prior to his four-year stint at Chattanooga, Irwin served as an assistant at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., from 2003-06. Irwin began his coaching career under the watch of current Tennessee coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly at Chattanooga from 1997-99.
During his tenure at Chattanooga, the Lady Mocs won seven regular season Southern Conference championships, four SoCon Tournaments, and appeared in the NCAA Regional in 2008 and 2009. Chattanooga has posted 183 wins since Irwin arrived back to his alma mater in 2006, while receiving over 25 all-conference players, two SoCon Pitcher of the Year, and two SoCon Freshman of the Year selections. In addition to all the accolades won on the diamond, the Lady Mocs also excelled in the classroom by maintaining a team grade point average of 3.0.
From 2003-06, Irwin spent his time at Lee University where he worked with hitters and infielders. The Lady Flames had great success over the three seasons Irwin was there, as they made the national tournament in 2004 and 2006, and Lee went 55-14 to finish seventh nationally in the 2006 NAIA National Poll. Prior to becoming ranked nationally, Irwin and the Lee softball staff were named National Fastpitch Coaches Association Staff of the Year after winning the Region XI Tournament Championship in 2004.
Irwin also spent time at the high school level as he was the head softball coach at Hixson High School for the 1999 and 2000 campaigns.
Irwin graduated from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga with a degree in Sports Administration in 1999, and also earned his master’s in Secondary Education from UTC in 2002. Coach Irwin is married to his wife Rachel and they have two children.