Stephanie VanBrakle enters her fifth season at the University of Alabama as the team's pitching coach in 2016.
In her first season guiding the Alabama pitching staff, Stephanie VanBrakle helped lead the Crimson Tide win the program's first national championship. Behind the right arm of Jaclyn Traina, the 2012 team rolled through the postseason, winning the Southeastern Conference regular-season title for the third straight year and then claiming the SEC Tournament title before advancing through the NCAA Regional and Super Regional rounds and finally capturing the coveted national championship.
VanBrakle was instrumental in the development of Traina through her four seasons at Alabama (2011-14). In her first season as the ace of the staff, Traina was named an NFCA first team All-American and the SEC Pitcher of the Year. Traina led the nation with a school record 42 wins and struck out 361 batters, another Tide all-time best. The following season in 2013, Traina again earned NFCA and Easton All-America honors. In Traina's senior season, she was named SEC Pitcher of the Year and became just the third player in Alabama history and the ninth in SEC history to surpass 100 career wins, ultimately finishing with 103. Traina is just the fifth four-time All-American in Alabama history and is the only one to earn three First Team accolades (2011, 2012, 2014).
In 2015, VanBrakle's pitching staff threw two perfect games and a no-hitter while leading the SEC with a 1.92 ERA. Sydney Littlejohn threw a pefect game aginst Eastern Kentucky on Feb. 6 and then repeated the feat on March 8 against Ole Miss, making her the only player in program history to throw multiple perfect games. The only other pefect game in Alabama history belongs to VanBrakle, who did so on April 1, 2006 at Kentucky. Freshman Alexis Osorio threw a no-hitter against Pacific on Feb. 15, which was the beginning to one of the best freshman pitching season's in Alabama history. Osorio finished the season as the SEC Freshman of the Year, a top three finalist for the NFCA Freshman of the Year and an NFCA Second Team All-American.
VanBrakle was named Alabama's pitching coach on July 5, 2011, returning to Tuscaloosa after spending one season as the head coach at Samford.
"We are very excited to have Stephanie as our first former athlete to join the coaching staff," said Tide head coach Patrick Murphy after hiring VanBrakle. "She led us to new heights as a player and know she can do the same thing as a coach."
Prior to serving as Samford's head coach, VanBrakle spent the previous two years as the head coach at Birmingham-Southern College. She posted a record of 57-14 in her two seasons with the Panthers, for an impressive .803 winning percentage.
In her first season as a head coach in 2009, VanBrakle led the Panthers to a 32-5 record. The team broke 13 program records, including the mark for wins in a season. Her first team posted a .364 team batting average and 1.19 ERA. VanBrakle's 2010 team then finished with a record of 25-9 overall and 12-4 in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Prior to becoming head coach at Birmingham-Southern, VanBrakle spent the 2008 season as an assistant coach on the BSC staff. That season, the Panthers earned a 32-28 record for the first 30-win season in program history. She also helped coach four All-Big South Conference players and two CoSIDA Academic All-District honorees.
VanBrakle played professionally in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league for the Philadelphia Force prior to being hired at Birmingham-Southern. She also served as a 2007 student assistant coach at her alma mater, with the Tide going 55-10 during that season.
During her stellar career at Alabama from 2003 to 2006, VanBrakle helped the Crimson Tide win its first Southeastern Conference regular-season title in 2006 plus SEC Tournament championships in 2003 and 2005. She earned SEC Tournament MVP honors in 2005 and was named SEC Pitcher of the Year in 2006.
VanBrakle helped her team make NCAA Regional and Super Regional appearances during all four of her years at Alabama, as well as three NCAA College World Series appearances (2003, 2005, 2006).
A native of Chambersburg, Pa., VanBrakle was named a NFCA second team All-American in 2005 and 2006. She was named SEC Pitcher of the Year and was one of 10 finalists for the Collegiate Player of the Year as a senior in 2006. She also was named to the SEC Honor Roll and the Academic All-SEC Team all four of her years at Alabama.
VanBrakle's other playing honors included 2003 Region VIII Tournament MVP, NFCA All-South Region in 2003, 2005 and 2006, and NFCA All-American in 2005 and 2006. She also earned all-conference honors each of her four years at Alabama and was named the 2003 SEC Freshman of the Year.
VanBrakle earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education from Alabama in 2007.