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Wright State softball coach finds new job

Laura Matthews
Laura Matthews

UD graduate returning home to Nashville

Almost seven weeks after Laura Matthews lost her softball program in a cost-cutting move by Wright State, she has a new job.

Belmont University hired the 2008 University of Dayton graduate and former Wittenberg University head coach on Monday to be its new head softball coach.

The new job brings Matthews home to Nashville, Tenn. She attended high school at Franklin Road Academy, which is 10 minutes from the Belmont campus. She called the opportunity an “absolute godsend” and a blessing for her family.

“It’s home,” Matthews said. “My parents, my three sisters and their families are still there. Pretty much my entire family is there.”

ExploreEARLIER COVERAGE: Matthews blindsided by Wright State decision

Matthews, the 13th head coach in Belmont history, compiled a 128-57-1 record in five seasons at Wittenberg. She coached three seasons at Wright State after being hired on Sept. 21, 2017. Wright State finished 21-32 in 2018 and 22-33 in 2019. Her third season, this past season, was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am excited to welcome Laura into the Belmont family as our next softball coach. We had an extremely deep pool of candidates but throughout the process Laura’s name kept coming up,” said Scott Corley, the director of athletics, in a press release. “In the end, she had all the attributes we were looking for; head coaching experience, winning pedigree, ability to recruit, and placing the needs of her student-athletes first. Also, being a Nashville native and having a sister who graduated from Belmont, Laura has a great understanding of our university and athletic program.”

Wright State cut its softball program and men’s and women’s tennis programs in June. Matthews turned her focus to finding new homes for her Wright State players and incoming recruits, and many have committed to new programs: Grace Gressly and Emily Daniel (Dayton); Logan Mueller (Miami); Jordyn Poulson (Findlay); Meredith Keel (South Alabama); Caitlyn Shumaker (North Dakota); Brooklynn Linneman (Florida International); Olivia Bricker (Bellarmine); Payton Baxter (Saint Joseph’s); Macy McCall (Winthrop); and Olivia Otani (Akron).

Several other Wright State players have not made their decisions, and some players have decided to stay at Wright State to finish their degrees.

“I’m floored with how many of them are in really good situations,” Matthews said, “and you’re so grateful for the softball community who has just embraced us and reached out and was so accommodating to them and helping them find opportunities. It’s been better than I hoped it would be. I hope those that aren’t continuing (to play) are able to find some peace. Those are the ones that I feel feel worse for, those upperclassmen who really should still be playing softball.”