Michelle Cheatham named head softball coach on Thursday
SAN ANTONIO — UTSA Athletics Director Lynn Hickey announced Thursday that Michelle Cheatham has been named head softball coach. The fifth head coach in program history, Cheatham replaces Amanda Lehotak, who resigned to become the head coach at Penn State on July 22.
“We are thrilled to give Michelle the opportunity to lead our program,” Hickey said. “She has been a great role model for our students over the last eight seasons as a coach and was a great leader during her playing days. We have watched her grow as a coach and to see her take over our program is very rewarding. Michelle is very professional, has a great knowledge of the game and I am excited for what she will bring to the future of UTSA softball.”
“I would like to thank President Dr. Ricardo Romo, Athletics Director Lynn Hickey, Associate Athletics Director Tamica Smith-Jones and the search committee for giving me the opportunity to lead this program as we enter a new era for UTSA Athletics,” Cheatham said. “It’s an exciting time for this university and our students as we continue to build upon a strong vision and look to immediately make an impact going into Conference USA. I am extremely blessed to be able to continue this journey with the softball program because it has had such a positive impact on my life and has greatly influenced the person that I am today.”
Cheatham has spent the last eight years on the Roadrunners’ coaching staff as an assistant coach. She was hired prior to the 2006 season and worked with the catchers, outfielders and assisted hitting instruction in addition to duties as the team’s first base coach, equipment manager and travel coordinator.
During her eight seasons, UTSA produced a total of 29 all-conference selections, including 12 first-team nods, three National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Region picks (Jessica Els/2006, Jessica Rogers/2007, Caitlyn Ivy/2010), three Southland Conference Freshmen of the Year (Brittany Cantu/2006, Molly Fichtner/2011, Megan Low/2012) and a Southland Utility Player of the Year honoree (Amanda Horton/2006).
Last season, Cheatham mentored outfielder Darian Blake, who picked up first-team All-Western Athletic Conference honors after leading the team with a .360 batting average, 54 hits, 24 runs and three triples. The Roadrunners finished the season with a .970 fielding percentage, which ranked 32nd in the nation. UTSA’s last two seasons in the Southland were highlighted by back-to-back Freshman of the Year awards for catchers Molly Fichtner and Megan Low. The pair led their respective teams in batting average, home runs and RBIs and posted fielding percentages better than .980.
Cheatham helped the Roadrunners post a 37-14 record and reach the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history in her first season in 2006. UTSA won its third consecutive Southland Regular Season Championship with a 22-5 mark and the Birds swept through the Southland Tournament undefeated for the second time in three years.
UTSA also continued its power-hitting prowess with the help of Cheatham during that first campaign, as it slugged 105 home runs in 51 games, a then-NCAA-record 2.06 per-game average.
In all, UTSA led the conference in home runs three times (2006, ’07, ’11) and batting once (2006), while no catcher committed more than five errors during her tenure.
The former Michelle McElyea, she was a four-year letterwinner from 1999-2002 for the Roadrunners under head coach Corrie Hill. The Clear Lake native earned second-team all-conference honors in 2000 and 2002 at catcher. Cheatham led the league with 18 home runs and 50 runs scored as a sophomore in 2000 and picked up NFCA All-Region and Southland All-Tournament Team laurels following the campaign.
She still appears on eight of the school’s career charts including putouts (3rd/1,172), walks (4th/85), RBIs (4th/126), home runs (5th/37), extra-base hits (6th/73), runs (7th/127), hits (8th/208) and doubles (8th/35) and closed her career with a .306 batting average. In addition, Cheatham owns the single-season record for putouts with 455 in 2002.
Cheatham, who graduated with a bachelor's degree of business administration in accounting from UTSA in 2003, and her husband, Brian, have twin sons, Austin and Brayden.