The tradition of Maryville College’s softball program is what drew Jill Moore to apply for the vacant position, but it was the atmosphere she experienced when she visited that sold her.
“Maryville just stood out to me as a very special place from the get-go,” Moore told The Daily Times. “When I stepped on to campus, it was an incredible feeling. Everybody was welcoming, it was very family-first, and it just felt like home to me.”
Moore was hired on Nov. 14 to replace interim coach and Maryville alum Caylan Arnold, who will serve as a collegiate softball color analyst for the ACC Network in the spring and playing professionally for the Florida Vibe during the summer.
Arnold was named the interim coach after Leah Kelley, who built Maryville College into a successful program after being hired in 2015, departed the program on Sept. 26. Kelley compiled a 157-123 record during her eight-year tenure, including a 74-50 mark in conference play, and coached the Scots to a USA South regular season championship and their first-ever USA South tournament championship in 2018.
The past two seasons have been a departure from that success as the Scots went a combined 27-36 after finishing the COVID-shortened 2020 season in the NFCA Division III Top 25 poll.
Moore is tasked with returning Maryville College to that level.
“With coaching, there always is pressure,” Moore said. “We love to compete, and we love to get out on the field. Winning is synonymous sometimes with success, and that doesn’t always mean it’s the truth, but you want your young ladies to feel the success of their hard work on the field.
“Every coach puts that pressure on themselves because you want it so much for your team.”
Moore arrived after nine seasons at Division II Lynn. She was an assistant coach the first six seasons before being promoted to head coach in 2018. In her three years at the helm, the Fighting Knights went 30-81.
Moore began her coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at Saint Francis University in 2007, where she specialized in pitching for two years. She helped lead the Red Flash to the 2008 North East Conference Tournament for the first time in six years while also developing the program’s first All-NEC pitching selection in five seasons.
Moore spent the next two seasons as an assistant at UMBC, where she aided in the development of the Retrievers’ pitchers, culminating in the program’s first All-American East Conference pitching selection in four years.
“Those stops taught me how to adapt,” Moore said. “I think with how much the sport of softball is growing, no matter what level you’re coaching at, it’s hard, and it’s a grind. You have to adapt in order to be successful, and I welcome this new challenge and this new conference.”
Maryville College will begin its quest to become the inaugural Collegiate Conference of the South champions when it hosts Mount St. Joseph for a doubleheader on Feb. 19.
“With such a rich history in the college itself and the pride that the community has in Maryville, there is no doubt in my mind that the program will continue to be successful,” Moore said. “My hope is that the young women coming out of the program are also successful off the field as people. I want to help them continue to be good people, and my hope is that they want to come back and they love to come back and remember the great experience that they had at Maryville College.”