HEAD COACH MICKEY DEAN
Mickey Dean, a native of the Central Shenandoah Valley, completed his fourth year as head coach of the James Madison softball program in 2016.
Dean has brought JMU to new heights and in the national spotlight of collegiate softball since his arrival four years ago. He guided the Dukes to NCAA postseason each of the past four seasons after setting a single-season wins record in each year. He has won more than 79 percent of his games as JMU’s head coach with a record of 185-48, including an impressive 70-7 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Coach Dean rewrote the record books in the 2016 season winning the program's third CAA Championship, first NCAA Regional title and first NCAA Super Regional appearance. With a 50-6 mark, the Dukes finished the season with the best record in history (most wins and fewest losses). Dean coached the program's first ever First Team All-American selections, Jailyn Ford and Megan Good, along with six All-CAA and All-Region selections. The Colonial Athletic Association named Coach Dean the Coach of the Year after a 18-1 record in conference and claiming the 2016 regional title.
In 11 seasons at the college ranks, Dean has amassed a 491-169 (.744) career record and a nine-year, Division I coaching record of 426-164 (.722), having coached one season at the junior college level. He has also been named conference coach of the year seven times, with four in the Big South and three in the CAA.
This 2015 season, Dean led the Dukes to their best record in program history, with a 48-10 overall record. The Dukes earned top-20 rankings in both major softball polls and reached the top 15 in the NCAA RPI ranking for the first time ever. JMU won a school-record 36 straight games, a streak which lasted a day shy of two months, was awarded the No. 15 overall seed for the NCAA Championship and hosted a NCAA regional for the first time. The Dukes went 1-2 in the Harrisonburg Regional, notching their first NCAA run-rule victory (9-1) over Binghamton.
JMU produced a perfect conference record, going 19-0 during CAA play, marking the second time in conference history a team completed the year unblemished during league play. The Dukes swept the CAA major awards for the second straight season, as Jailyn Ford was named Player of the Year, Megan Good the Pitcher and Rookie of the Year, Erica Field the Defensive Player of the Year while Dean was named Coach of the Year. JMU has now won the league’s top player and rookie awards in each of the last four seasons (2012-15) while garnering pitcher, defensive and coaching laurels in back-to-back seasons (2014-15).
JMU saw two players earn NFCA All-America status as Megan Good was a Second Team All-American and Jailyn Ford was a Third Team All-American. It was the first time multiple Dukes were named All-Americans in the same year. Ford is also the first two-time All-American, having been a second teamer in 2014 while Good was a top-10 finalist for NFCA Freshman of the Year. The Dukes had a record seven players honored on the NFCA All-Northeast Region Team while six were placed on All-CAA teams. JMU also had a school-record five players recognized as ECAC Division I Softball All-Stars, which included three players being named to the first team. Prior to 2015, JMU had a total of four ECAC All-Stars spanning 2012-2014, including a pair of first team members.
The Dukes ended 2015 ranked No. 22 in both major softball polls. They broke 22 single-season team records, including most wins (48), fewest losses (10), team batting average (.347), home runs (55), runs scored (345), opposing batting average (.174), strikeouts per seven innings (7.86), fewest hits allowed (233), fewest runs allowed (109), strikeouts (417) and fielding percentage (.971).
The 2014 season saw Dean and the Dukes win their second-ever CAA tournament title. JMU went 45-15 overall, setting a program record for wins for the second consecutive season. The Dukes won the program's first-ever CAA regular-season crown, granting them the right to host the conference tournament. They swept through the tournament with a 3-0 record, earning the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. JMU was placed in the Lexington Regional at the University of Kentucky where it defeated DePaul in the opening-round game for the program's second-ever NCAA Tournament win.
The 2014 season included two more wins over ranked opponents for Dean and company as they knocked off two teams that advanced to the Women's College World Series. Madison defeated then-No. 20/22 UL Lafayette in the NFCA Leadoff Classic before taking down then-No. 2/4 Oregon in the championship game of the 2014 Pepsi Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu, Hawai'i. It was the highest-ranked program JMU has ever defeated. They followed that up with program's first-ever sweep of Hofstra in a three-game series. It was the first time any CAA program had ever swept the Pride.
The Dukes' success was recognized at the 2014 CAA banquet where Dean was named the CAA Coach of the Year. It was his fifth Coach of the Year honor from a conference, after taking home four during his time at Radford. The Dukes also boasted the 2014 CAA Player, Pitcher, co-Defensive and Rookie of the Year and had 17 All-CAA recognitions at the postseason banquet. The postseason featured more firsts for JMU as the program picked up its first Top-25 ranking as well as saw Jailyn Ford become its first-ever All-American.
In his first year of work, Dean guided the Dukes to great heights by helping the team win a school-record 42 games and collect its first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. JMU went 42-17 in 2013 and 18-3 to finish second in the CAA. They advanced to the Knoxville Regional of the NCAA tournament and picked up the program's first-ever NCAA tournament win with a 5-0 defeat of Longwood.
Individually, JMU did incredibly well in Dean's first year of work as the team raked in conference, state and regional award. Dean was voted the VaSID State Coach of the Year while first-year pitcher Jailyn Ford collected CAA and VaSID Rookie of the Year awards. She became the second player in school history to be named the Virginia Pitcher of the Year while Sarah Mooney became the third JMU player to be named the CAA Player of the Year. Mooney and Ford were two of four players to be named NFCA All-Region honors as they were joined by outfielder Jasmine Butler and pitcher Heather Kiefer. Ford was also selected to play on the USA Softball Junior National Team where she won silver at the ISF Junior World Championships.
In total, JMU boasted the CAA Player and Rookie of the Year, seven All-CAA selections and two All-Rookie selections.
"It is no doubt great to return home, and I want to thank Athletics Director Jeff Bourne and Associate Athletics Director Kevin White for this opportunity," Dean said. "As I stated to both, I believe the future of this program is limitless. With the combination of our history of academic excellence and state-of-the-art facilities, JMU softball can become a nationally recognized program competing for championships at the highest level."
Dean guided Radford to unprecedented success with a six-year overall record of 241-116 (.675) and an 84-21 (.800) mark in the Big South Conference. The Highlanders finished first in the Big South's regular-season standings in each of the past four seasons and captured championship crowns by winning the Big South Championship Tournament in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, the Highlanders also claimed the program's first NCAA tournament win, compiling three victories in their two NCAA appearances. Dean was tabbed as the league's Coach of the Year of the past four seasons and once on the regional scale. Since 2005, Radford was the winningest program (320-163) in the state of Virginia and from 2006-09, the Highlanders were just one of 10 Division I programs nationally to win 40 contests each season.
His Radford players accounted for 15 Big South annual awards, 14 All-Region honors, 37 All-Conference laurels and 32 All-State recognitions. Radford also had the program's first All-America selection this past season.
Prior to being named the Highlanders' head coach in 2006, Dean served as an assistant coach at Longwood University (2005-06), Indiana University (2002-04) and the University of Akron (2001-02).
In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Dean has also worked on the professional and international level. He was the pitching coach for the Venezuelan National Team (2002-08) and the head coach for the Chicago Bandits (2004-10) that finished as the National Pro Fastpitch Regular-Season Champions five times and won the World Championship in 2008. Dean was named NPF Manager of the Year three times and coached world-renowned pitcher Jennie Finch, who was the NPF's Co-Pitcher of the Year in 2005 and has a gold and silver medal from her two Team USA Olympic appearances.
Dean attended nearby Spotswood High School, where he was a multi-sport athlete. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree in public administration and a minor in business administration from Elon University in 1987.
Dean and his wife, Liz, have two children, Isaac and Caroline.