The 2016-17 season is Tommy Hewitt’s 12th season at the helm of Anderson University’s softball program after being named the head coach at Anderson in June, 2005.
Prior to accepting the Trojans’ head coaching position, Hewitt, a native of College Park, Ga., spent eight years at Pendleton High School in Pendleton, S.C., where he was the school-to-work coordinator and also coached several sports. He was an assistant softball and football coach and was the head coach for girls’ golf and junior varsity boys’ and girls’ soccer.
Hewitt, the 2014 South Atlantic Coach of the Year, has averaged nearly 30 wins per year, amassing 326 victories during his 11 previous campaigns, including a school-record 43 victories during the 2014 season, which eclipsed the 2013 team’s then school-record 40 wins. The Trojans have posted record-setting win totals in three of the last five campaigns, starting with 38 in 2012, 40 in 2013 and 43 victories in 2014 while reaching the 40-win plateau again in 2015.
With Hewitt at the helm of the program, the Trojans have made three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Southeast Regional, beginning with a berth in the 2012 Savannah Super Regional. AU was a host site for one of the two Southeast Region tournaments in 2014 and traveled to North Georgia for the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
Since joining the South Atlantic Conference for the 2011 campaign, Hewitt’s Trojans have compiled a 192-87 (.688) overall record in six seasons and have eclipsed traditional league powerhouses Carson-Newman (190 wins), Wingate (170 wins) and Catawba (172 wins) in total number of victories over the six seasons, while trailing just Lenoir-Rhyne (222 wins).
Under Hewitt’s tutelage, the 2013 edition of Anderson softball finished 12th in the final National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Poll after earning its’ first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament and gaining a berth in the Southeast Super Regional. The Trojans, who were unranked throughout the regular season, vaulted into the top 25 on the strength of their three-game run through the Hickory Regional and appearance versus host Armstrong Atlantic State University in the Super Regional. Anderson’s bid for an appearance in the NCAA’s Elite Eight fell just shy, as fourth-ranked and host AASU defeated AU, 6-5, in 11 innings and 7-2 the following day in Savannah.
Hewitt guided the Trojans to the most wins in school history (40) in 2013, and rankings in the top 25 nationally in five offensive categories, including 13th in slugging percentage (.520), 14th in home runs per game (1.05) and 17th in runs per game (6.47).
In his very first season at Anderson, the Trojans shattered the school’s single-season record for home runs by 40 - Anderson blasted 49 home runs and two players, Kayla Williams (18) and Kayla Thrasher (10), shattered the old team record of nine homers in a single season by themselves. Williams finished sixth in the NCAA Division II in home runs per game.
During the 2013 season, AU’s potent offense ripped a then-school record 58 home runs, while the 2014 squad ranked eighth nationally with a .553 slugging percentage and ninth in the country with 1.35 home runs per game, en route to clubbing 74 homers. AU was also 11th nationally in doubles per contest (1.76) and 34th with a team batting average of .329.
The Trojans earned the second seed and hosted one of two NCAA Southeast Regional Tournaments for the first time in school history in 2014. That edition of the Black and Gold climbed as high as 14th in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Poll, while the 2013 edition of Anderson softball finished 12th in the final NFCA Poll after earning its’ first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament and gaining a berth in the 2013 Southeast Super Regional.
During the 2015 season, the Trojans spent an unprecedented seven weeks in the NFCA’s Top-25 poll, climbing to No. 20 in early April. On the strength of freshman Cailah Niles’ s school-record 22 home runs, AU ranked 14th nationally in home runs per game.
During his 11-year tenure at AU, Hewitt has guided his players to all-conference accolades 28 times, while five Trojan softball players have earned Conference Freshman of the Year honors (Meredith Knox, Danielle Swygert, Jessica Neidigh, Courtney Czentnar and Cailah Niles). Niles and Lauren Rudesheim were named to the 2015 SAC All-Tournament Team, while Amber Duncan, Rachel Rhodes and Bri Cason were named to the 2012 SAC All-Tournament Team. Right-handed hurler Casey Deer was named to the 2010 Conference Carolinas All-Tournament team.
Five players - Abby Child (Shortstop), Jessica Neidigh (2nd Base), Danielle Swygert (1st Base), Molly Child (Center Field) and Cailah Niles (Catcher) - have earned All-Region accolades over the past four seasons. Neidigh went on to earn All-America recognition, while Swygert was an Honorable Mention All-American following the 2013 season. At the conclusion of the 2015 campaign, Niles was honored as one of the top three freshmen in the nation by the NFCA, while also garnering All-America recognition by both the NFCA and Daktronics.
Molly Child was named to the Daktronics Third-Team All-America Team following the 2014 season, while Neidigh, Swygert, Molly Child and Abby Child earned NFCA All-Region accolades. Swygert, Molly Child and Abby Child also garnered Daktronics All-Region honors, while Abby Child, Molly Child and Katelynn Howser were named to the 2014 SAC All-Tournament team, with Abby Child garnering tourney MVP honors. Swygert and Molly Child were named First-Team All-SAC, while Abby Child, Courtney Czentnar and Howser earned second-team accolades. Neidigh earned honorable-mention All-SAC honors, while Czentnar was also named SAC Freshman of the Year.
Hewitt also places an emphasis on success in the classroom as well and has coached back-to-back CoSIDA First-Team Academic All-America honorees. Shortstop Meredith Knox garnered the award in 2010, while third baseman Emily Monteith collected the honor following the 2011 season. Amber Duncan was named First-Team Academic All District following the 2011 season. Ten Trojans were named Academic All-Conference in 2010 and Hewitt’s teams are always in the hunt for the Dr. Shirley Jacks award, which is presented by the AU Athletics Department to the team that possesses the highest grade point average for each semester. The softball team claimed the honor in the fall of 2007 and 2009.
A trio of players - Laura Jansky, Bri Cason and Rebecca Martin earned Capital One Academic All-District honors in 2014.
“Our motto is we will not allow anyone to outwork us,” Hewitt said. “We believe hard work and dedication will pay off in softball and in life.”
Hewitt has also been dedicated to facility enhancements, with the completion of the new softball facility in July 2015, at the Athletic Campus. The new facility will rival any softball venue in the southeast.
Hewitt has coached both AAU softball and baseball. In 2002 and 2003, he led an Under-16 team from Pendleton to an overall record of 99-32 and seven tournament titles. The ’02 team came in second at the ISA World in Covington, Ga., and the ’03 team came in second at the USFA World in Panama City, Fla.
“I want to take the Anderson softball program to conference championships and to regionals,” Hewitt said. “We will be an aggressive team. We will take advantage of the mistakes of our opponents. We will do the little things you have to do to win games. If it’s a one-run game, I want that one run to be on our side.”
Hewitt attended Clayton Junior College in Jonesboro, Ga., and Mercer University in Atlanta, where he received a B.S. degree in business administration. He and his wife Delilah reside in Anderson and have three children – Kellie, Kevin and Kenric.