Georgia Tech softball has turn-around season in first year under head coach Aileen Morales
Big Ten/ACC Challenge action continues Saturday
Former Georgia Tech softball great Aileen Morales is back on The Flats to return program to ACC, national prominence
Aileen Morales, one of the most decorated student-athletes in Georgia Tech softball history and a former highly successful assistant coach at her alma mater, returned to The Flats as the program’s sixth head coach on June 7, 2017.
“It’s with great excitement for the future of Georgia Tech softball that I welcome Aileen Morales back to The Flats as head coach,” Georgia Tech director of athletics Todd Stansbury said. “For nine seasons, Aileen was a major part of the most successful stretch in Georgia Tech softball history, first as a student-athlete, then as an assistant coach. I am confident that she is the right person to lead our program back to the national prominence that it has enjoyed for much of this millennium.”
In her nine seasons as a student-athlete (2005-08) and assistant coach (2009-13) at Georgia Tech, she helped lead the Yellow Jackets to four Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championships (2005, 2009-11), four ACC Tournament titles (2005, 2009-10, 2012), eight NCAA regionals (2005-12) and an NCAA Super Regional (2009). The Jackets averaged 43 wins per season during her nine years with the program.
Since leaving her alma mater following the 2013 campaign, she has added four seasons as a successful head coach to her resume, first at Young Harris College in Young Harris, Ga. (2014-15) and most recently at Radford University in Radford, Va. (2016-17).
After inheriting a program that won just 12 games in 2015, Morales engineered the biggest turnaround in NCAA Division I softball when she led Radford to a 35-26 record in her first season at the helm in ’16. The Highlanders also climbed 96 spots in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) in her first season at the school, advanced to the Big South Tournament semifinals with their first postseason wins in four years and boasted two all-conference honorees.
Radford’s success continued in 2017 with 27 victories, including a 3-2 record against opponents from the ACC, and two more all-Big South selections.
In all, Morales compiled 62 wins in just two seasons at Radford and her .534 winning percentage is the third-highest in school history.
Prior to her two-year stint at Radford, Morales compiled 51 wins in two seasons at the helm at Young Harris.
In her final campaign at YHC, which was also the Mountain Lions’ first season as a full-fledged member of NCAA Division II after transitioning from the junior-college ranks, she led the squad to a then-program-best 31-18 record, which included a sterling 21-3 ledger at home.
She coached eight all-Peach Belt Conference honorees, one all-region selection and one academic all-American in her two seasons at Young Harris.
Morales began her full-time coaching career as an assistant coach at Georgia Tech from 2010-13. During that four-year stint, she helped lead the Yellow Jackets to 158 victories, two ACC regular-season championships, two ACC Tournament titles and three NCAA regional appearances while coaching 19 all-conference selections, four ACC Players of the Year and three all-Americans.
She got her start in coaching as a student assistant coach for Tech in 2009, helping the Yellow Jackets to the most successful overall season in school history, a 46-15 campaign that included ACC regular-season and tournament championships and the program’s lone NCAA Super Regional appearance.
Morales arrived at Georgia Tech in January 2005 after graduating a semester early from Hardaway H.S. in Columbus, Ga. Despite beginning her collegiate career during what was scheduled to be her final high-school season, she hit .296 with five doubles, a triple, two home runs, 32 RBI and an ACC-best 44 stolen bases in 49 attempts as a freshman, en route to being named ACC co-Freshman of the Year and earning second-team all-conference recognition.
She went on to be a three-time all-ACC honoree as a middle infielder, earning first-team accolades as a junior and senior in 2007 and ’08, and was also a three-time all-region selection. She earned third-team all-America honors after hitting .339 with 13 doubles, three triples, seven homers, 33 RBI, 34 steals and a then-ACC-record 73 runs scored as a junior in 2007.
She remains Georgia Tech’s all-time leader in games played (265), starts (265), at-bats (850) and stolen bases (154) and ranks among the program’s top 10 in runs (second – 216), hits (third – 261), doubles (t-fifth – 43) and triples (t-fifth – 10). She also holds three of the top five single-season stolen base totals in school history, including a school-record 46 as a senior in 2008.
Over the course of Morales’ four-year playing career, Georgia Tech won 185 games, claimed the 2005 ACC regular-season and tournament championships and advanced to the NCAA postseason four times.
Following the end of her collegiate playing career, she was selected by the Chicago Bandits in the second round of the 2008 National Pro Fastpitch Draft. She played two seasons with the Bandits and helped lead the squad to the NPF championship as a rookie in 2008.
She also boasts international experience as a player and coach with the Puerto Rican national team. She competed internationally for Puerto Rico from 2007-10 and served as an assistant coach for the 2012 squad that finished eighth at the International Softball Federation World Championship, PR’s best finish in more than a decade.
“I want to thank athletics director Todd Stansbury, senior woman administrator Joeleen Akin and the search committee for the faith they have put in me to lead the Georgia Tech softball program,” Morales said. “It is an honor to return to The Flats, where my heart has always been. With great passion, I will work to build our Yellow Jacket program back to ACC and national prominence. I look forward to developing our student-athletes to achieve excellence in the classroom, on the field and in life.”
A three-time second-team academic all-district selection as a student-athlete at Georgia Tech, Morales graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management in 2009. The Columbus, Ga. native earned a master’s in sport management from Georgia Southern in 2013.
AILEEN MORALES AT A GLANCE
Full name: Aileen Rae Morales
Birthdate: April 5, 1987 (30 years old)
Hometown: Columbus, Ga. (Hardaway, H.S.)
Bachelor’s: Georgia Tech (business management, 2009)
Master’s: Georgia Southern (sport management, 2013)
Playing Experience (2B/SS):
2005-08: Georgia Tech
2007-10: Puerto Rico National Team
2008-09: Chicago Bandits (National Pro Fastpitch)
2009: Student Assistant, Georgia Tech
2010-13: Assistant Coach, Georgia Tech
2012: Assistant Coach, Puerto Rico National Team
2014-15: Head Coach, Young Harris (two seasons – 51-51 overall)
2016-17: Head Coach, Radford (two seasons – 62-54 overall)
Present: Head coach, Georgia Tech
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT AILEEN MORALES
“Aileen is a winner and Georgia Tech is where she wants to be. She will get the program back to competing on the national level very soon.”
Missouri head coach (Georgia Tech head coach – 2004-06)
“Aileen is one of the premier up-and-coming coaches in our sport. She was an outstanding player at Georgia Tech, was an assistant coach during a very successful period of Georgia Tech history and I believe she will do great things with the program.”
Illinois head coach
“She has great knowledge of the game. Her competitiveness and experience in the ACC as a player and former coach makes her an outstanding choice for the position. I’m excited to see what she can do for the program.”
South Carolina associate head coach
“When I heard there was an opening, she was the first person that came to my mind. I had the chance to play with her and she was such an amazing athlete and has a great knowledge of the game. I can’t imagine anyone who is more passionate about the sport and about Georgia Tech. I think she is going to do wonderful things for the program.”
Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Famer (pitcher – 2002-05)