WINTER HAVEN, FL — Legendary West Virginia Wesleyan College softball coach Steve Warner collected his 1,100th career win on Monday, March 7, after the WVWC softball team edged out Mercyhurst by a score of 1-0 in Winter Haven, Fla. The win moves Warner into sole possession of ninth place on the all-time NCAA Division II softball career wins list at the start of his twenty-ninth season at the helm of the Bobcat softball program.
The WVWC softball team earned Warner’s milestone win as Hannah Hudson continued her hot start to the season pitching a dominant, complete game shutout versus the Lakers. Hudson struck out seven Lakers, while only allowing four total hits all game. Hudson’s performance in the circle put the Bobcats in excellent position to earn the win, only needing to score one run to take overcome the challenge posed by the Lakers.
The Bobcats only scoring run came when Molly Osborne hit a high-arching sacrifice fly in the third inning that allowed Kaitlyn Rizor to reach home plate. The Bobcats threatened to score several more times following Rizor’s run, especially Kiley Turner, who put together a solid performance at-bat for Warner’s Bobcats, collecting multiple solid hits against Mercyhurst, but failed to score each time.
Coach Warner graciously took some time to talk to The Record Delta about his milestone career accomplishment, telling how he got to this point and what keeps pushing him to compete after nearly three decades of coaching.
Question 1: Could you sum up some of your career accomplishments that you are personally the proudest of?
“I have been coaching at West Virginia Wesleyan for 31 years. I have been the head coach for 29 seasons. In all my time here, I have only been involved in one losing season. In 2017, our team beat West Chester in the super regionals, earning a bid to the national tournament. That year was special, especially as they earned my 1,000th career win in that tournament. After that tournament, our team finished ranked #3 in the country that year,” said Warner
Question 2: After coaching for over 30 years with only one losing season, what is your coaching philosophy? What are some keys to maintaining such a high level of success?
“My coaching philosophy is simple; I try to surround myself with good players and a good staff. Other than that, I try to focus on fundamentals and doing the little things correctly. Building a winning culture and getting players into good habits is what leads to sustained success over time,” said Warner
Question 3: What originally drew you to coaching?
“I loved all sports from an early age. I was so fortunate to have good coaching and a father that spent time with me in the backyard teaching me the fundamentals. Coaches like Don Wills, Jim Marsh and Mike Gillespie and of course my Dad, instilled in me a good work ethic and a passion for the game,” explained Warner.
Question 4: What keeps motivating you to keep competing?
“Motivation is the key for all learning. I love practice as much as I do competing. If you prepare them well in practice they will be successful on the field,” said Warner.
Question 5: How have you seen the game change throughout your coaching career? How have you adapted to these changes?
“The actual game itself hasn’t changed much. One thing that has change though is that I would say that kids today have more opportunities considering travel ball, pitching coaches, batting coaches, strength coaches, etc.,” explained Warner.
Question 6: What would you like to say to the Buckhannon-Upshur community?
“I’ve been blessed to coach at a great school for my entire career, I love at Wesleyan and in Buckhannon. Being able to stay here, raise my two sons and coach here has been truly amazing. I’m fortunate to have my parents and my in-laws here for additional support,” said Warner. “The support of the community here is awesome and I’m grateful to call Buckhannon my home! I’ll tell everyone I didn’t play in a single game; I give all credit to our players and coaches because they work hard every day. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have been surrounded by so many great student athletes and great supporting cast.”
With that The Record Delta wanted to extend a well-deserved congratulations to Coach Warner for his contributions to both WVWC and the Upshur County community. Over the last 30 plus years, Warner has shaped the WVWC softball program into a model of competitive consistency. The community can look forward to reading of Warner’s continued success with the Bobcat softball team.