In 1995, Lorraine "Les" Stuedeman became the first softball coach at UAH. During her successful career, she has transformed an idea into a winning tradition.
Stuedeman has made a significant mark in the South Region during her tenure, guiding the Chargers to an impressive 894-278-1 (.762) record. The Chargers have averaged more than 47 wins per season under Stuedeman, and her teams have never had a losing season.
Stuedeman’s accomplishments have been recognized on the national level as she is set for induction into the NFCA Hall of Fame at the organization’s annual conference late in 2014.
In her team’s most recent campaign, the squad advanced to the NCAA South Super Regional for a second consecutive year after earning the top seed in the region following a tremendous regular season campaign that saw UAH pick up six wins over nationally-ranked opponents while winning nine Gulf South Conference series. Stuedeman was recognized for the ninth time as the GSC Coach of the Year, while eight players earned All-GSC status including Freshman of the Year Tyler Harrison.
Additionally, the squad featured five all-region honorees and two All-Americans in Macie Couey and Mary Kelley. Kelley’s All-American recognition made her a four-time All-American – the second time that Stuedeman produced a player with such accolades.
The fourth winningest active coach in Division II, Stuedeman became the 17th coach in Division II history to win 800 games with a victory in the regular season finale in 2012, and through the 20014 season, she ranked 20th all-time in winning percentage across all NCAA divisions.
Stuedeman’s teams have earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament 17 times – including a stretch of 12 in a row with the team’s 2014 berth – and the Chargers have captured four South Region titles (1999, 2001, 2009 and 2011). In 2009 and 2011, she guided the Chargers to the brink of a national championship finishing as the Division II Softball World Series runner-up both seasons. Stuedeman and her staff have been named South Region Coaching Staff of the Year six times (1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2009 and 2011).
Under Stuedeman, the Chargers have appeared in 12 Gulf South Conference Championship games, winning eight titles, including three in a row from 2006 through 2008. The Chargers have an all-time GSC tournament record of 64-24 – the best mark in the conference.
In her extraordinarily successful collegiate coaching stint, Stuedeman also has nine GSC Coach of the Year titles to her credit as she garnered the award in 1996, 2001, and 2002 before winning it four consecutive seasons from 2008-11 and adding another pair in 2013 and 2014.
The program’s success in the conference was highlighted when in 2010 Stuedeman was named GSC East Division Coach of the Decade, while the Chargers were also picked as the decade’s top softball program. Five former Chargers (Stephanie Pinto, 2004-07; Melanie Carter, 2000-03; Kristin Spencer, 2003-06; Beth Lawson, 2007-10; and Sage Woodham, 2006-09) were members of the GSC All-Decade team, while Pinto and Woodham were named Player and Pitcher of the Decade, respectively. Two other former All-Americans, Lane Davis (1998-01) and Audrey Williams (1998-01), were named honorable mention.
Stuedeman's first recruiting class did her proud over their four seasons and made quite the immediate impact as her squad made her the first UAH coach to go to a national championship and to win a conference title in her first year as head coach. All-American pitcher Wendy Hurst, who Stuedeman coached for a season at Hewitt-Trussville High School, set the tone for future Chargers as she set several NCAA softball records during her career, and she also owns the pitching section of the UAH softball record book.
Additionally, Hurst was an inaugural member of the GSC Hall of Fame as she was inducted in 2014.
Along with Hurst, Stuedeman has had several other players earn GSC, South Region and All-America honors under her direction. Overall, there have been 40 All-Americans, eight GSC Players or Pitchers of the Year and seven Freshmen of the Year. Additionally, in 2005 Pinto earned the prestigious Gulf South Conference Commissioner's trophy.
In addition to her responsibilities at the helm of the softball program, Stuedeman served as the Senior Woman Administrator for the UAH Department of Athletics from 2010-14.
Before beginning her time at UAH, Stuedeman coached one year at Hewitt-Trussville (1994-95). While at HTHS, she led her team to a 43-13 overall record and was named the Jefferson County Coach of the Year. Prior to coaching high school, Stuedeman was an assistant for two seasons at the University of West Alabama where she also earned a Master's Degree in Education. She also has a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science from Huntingdon College.
Along with coaching on the college and high school levels, Stuedeman has been instrumental in the growth of fastpitch softball in North Alabama as she coached and helped organize the first 12-and-under softball travel team in Huntsville.
Stuedeman played first base and catcher in college and high school. She lettered one season in both volleyball and softball at Samford University prior to transferring to Huntingdon College where she lettered for three seasons as a catcher. While at Samford, she became their first ever all-conference performer. At Huntingdon, Stuedeman earned All-America and All-District Honors in 1992, and All-District in 1990 and 1991.
In the fall of 2013, Stuedeman was inducted into the Huntingdon Athletic Hall of Fame, and she also was enshrined in the Vestavia Hills Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
Not the only Stuedeman to have a strong career in the coaching ranks, sister Vann Stuedeman – a former assistant at UAH – is the head softball coach at Mississippi State, and brother Stu Stuedeman is the assistant basketball coach at Mountain Brook High School.
Stuedeman is a member of the National Softball Coaches Association.