- Marla Townsend
Marla  Townsend

Head Coach

Alma Mater:
Alabama '86

Named UAB’s first head coach on Sept. 1, 1998, Townsend has guided the program since its infancy. Since coming to UAB, Townsend has coached 67 all-conference athletes and has guided the Blazers to an all-time record of 511-474 and Conference USA mark of 208-184.

Townsend's Blazers finished with a 27-32 record in 2016 and finished second in the C-USA tournament. During the season, the Blazers played 10 teams that advanced to the postseason. Caitlin Attfield was drafted in the National Professional Fastpitch (NPF) by the Dallas Charge and is the first softball player to play professionally.

In 2015, Townsend guided UAB to its sixth consecutive season of 30 more wins despite playing the nation’s 25th-ranked, non-conference schedule. Townsend and UAB closed the season with the No. 49 RPI, marking the sixth year in a row that the Blazers have posted a final RPI better than 50.

Numerous records fell in the 2015 season, including team-best marks in batting average (.298), slugging percentage (.462) and on-base percentage (.382). Towsend and her staff led the Blazers to their best defensive efforts in school history with a .976 fielding percentage to finish 14 in the NCAA. FourBlazers found themselves with All-Conference USA honors at the season’s end with Caitlin Attfield earning UAB its first Conference USA Player of the Year honor in school history.

In 2014, Townsend guided UAB to its fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament, making the Blazers just one of 23 programs to accomplish the feat. Playing the nation's second-toughest non-conference schedule and 10th overall toughest schedule, Townsend and UAB reached its highest RPI ranking in program history, being tabbed No. 26 on March 31. Townsend picked up her 450th career win in the 2014 campaign on May 3, splitting a doubleheader against the UTSA Roadrunners. The victory also gave the Blazers their 450th win of all-time. Entering the 2014 season, UAB found itself ranked in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's (NFCA) Preseason Top-25 poll for the first time, coming in at No. 21.

Several records fell in the 32-win season, including a team-best 57 homeruns. UAB tallied a .366-team on-base percentage, another record for Team XV. Townsend and her staff led the Blazers to their best defensive effort in history, committing just 49 errors and posting a .971 fielding percentage, which ranked No. 30 in the NCAA. Five UAB Blazers found themselves with All-Conference-USA honors at the year's end.

Under Townsend, UAB completed a record-breaking season in 2013. The Blazers reached the 40-win plateau for the first time ever with a 40-19 record on their way to a berth in the NCAA Super Regional in Gainesville, Fla. It was the first Super Regional appearance in program history for the Blazers, and UAB's fourth-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

UAB had six players earn All-Conference USA honors, while four individuals made the NFCA Mideast Region Team. Among other team honors in the 2013 season, Townsend was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year and freshman Caitlin Attfield was tabbed the C-USA Freshman of the Year.

The 2013 NCAA Louisville Regional Champions finished the season ranked No. 16 ranking in the USA Today/NFCA and the No. 17 ranking in the ESPN.com/USA Softball final 2013 polls after winning the Conference USA regular season title for the first time.

Following the season, the UAB coaching staff was named by the NFCA as the Mideast Coaching Staff of the Year.

In 2012, UAB finished the season with an overall record of 37-22 and a 17-7 mark in Conference USA. The 17 league wins tie the most ever in program history.

The squad featured two NFCA All-Region selections and six All-Conference USA performers, including one first team, four second team and one all-freshman honorees.

UAB enjoyed one of its most successful seasons in school history in 2011 as the Blazers earned the program's second consecutive invitation to the NCAA Championship. UAB's win total (39) tied the most in program history set in 2002 and the 17 victories in Conference USA play surpassed the school record (15).

In addition, three players were named to the Conference USA All-Academic Team, representing the most selections in program history and the most among any C-USA team in 2011. Furthermore, the Blazers began conference play with a perfect 6-0 record for the first time in school history.

In 2010, the Blazers earned the program's first-ever invitation to the NCAA Championship. UAB's win total (37) marked the second-highest in school history and the 15 victories in Conference USA play tied the school record. The Blazers were never ranked lower than No. 38 in the RPI during the season.

In addition, UAB had six players named to all-conference teams, including three first-team performers. The Blazers also had four student-athletes receive all-region accolades.

The Blazers concluded their 2009 campaign with an overall record of 21-34 and placed seventh in Conference USA with an 8-16 record. The Green and Gold kicked off the season by marking a milestone at the Hawaii Paradise Classic, defeating No. 19/17 LSU 5-3. UAB's victory marked the second time in five years that the Blazers have defeated a top-25 ranked opponent. A pair of freshmen, outfielder Martina Landrum and outfielder/infielder Catherine Douglass, earned all-conference accolades.

Landrum was dubbed the C-USA's 2009 Co-Newcomer of the Year, leading the conference in stolen bases, and Douglass was named to the league's all-freshman team, closing the season with a .310 batting average and 31 RBI.

In 2008, Townsend and her squad ended the season at 24-35 (9-15 CUSA). The Blazers wrapped up their season with a first round loss to Memphis in the C-USA Tournament. But despite the loss, the Blazers continued to rewrite the record books. Pitcher Jennifer Nelson finished her career as the all-time wins and strikeouts leader.

Infielder Holly Krzan also concluded her career on top, capturing the all-time records for doubles, games played, games started, total bases and walks. Freshmen Laura Callaway and Caley Walden picked up nominations to the C-USA All-Freshman team. Townsend herself also received honors when she was inducted into the Alabama Amateur Softball Association's Hall of Fame.

For Townsend and her 2007 Blazer squad, the season featured several record-breaking performances and new milestones. Townsend earned her 200th career victory in February as the Blazers won the USF "The Game" Tournament. UAB's success continued in March when the Blazers defeated a top 25-ranked opponent for the first time in three years, knocking off No. 18 Southern Illinois. The Blazers finished the season 31-27 (10-13 C-USA), marking the third time in history that Townsend's squad has topped the 30-win plateau. Individuals on the team broke single-season records for batting average, hits, doubles, home runs, walks, fielding percentage, batters struck out, wins and ERA. Centerfielder Lindsay Stanley, who broke the school's career record with 100 stolen bases, earned first-team all-conference honors, while shortstop Krzan was named to the second team.

The 2006 season marked the Blazers' best campaign in four years as they finished 31-22 overall and tied for second in Conference USA. Townsend guided her team to a 15-9 C-USA record, best in UAB's history, and received the C-USA Coach of the Year award. The Blazers earned six spots on the C-USA All-Conference teams. Krzan and Stanley took home first-team honors, while Nelson and Kayla Harris were named to the second-team. Harris, along with Andrea Rogers, also earned all-freshman honors.

During the 2005 season, Townsend led the Blazers to a 23-37 mark as UAB finished seventh in the conference. UAB posted 16 non-conference wins throughout the season, including victories over Mercer, Jacksonville State, Birmingham-Southern and Samford. Stanley was named second-team all-conference while Amanda Antonovich was named to the all-freshman team. UAB had 12 players named to the Commissioner's Honor Roll and six were named NFCA All-American Scholar Athletes.

The 2004 campaign saw the Blazers post at least 20 wins for the fifth season in a row and was one in which UAB claimed two tournament titles. UAB also placed two players on the all-conference team, as Beth Mullins was named to the second team and Krzan made the all-freshman squad.

In 2003, the Blazers posted their fourth-consecutive 20-win campaign and advanced to the Conference USA Tournament for the fourth straight season. UAB ended the year with 28 victories and posted a 6-5 win over the eighth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners. The victory in Norman, Okla. marked UAB's first win versus a top-25 ranked opponent and signified the program's first victory against a former NCAA Champion.

Prior to the 2002 season, UAB was picked to finish seventh in the C-USA preseason polls, but Townsend's team proved the critics wrong by placing third in the regular-season standings with a 14-10 record. The program's accomplishments did not go unnoticed as Townsend was named the C-USA Coach of the Year by a vote of her peers in the coaching community. The 2002 Blazers improved upon the momentum that they built during the regular season as UAB advanced deep into the C-USA Tournament in Tampa, Fla.

The Blazers finished the three-day event as the runner-up of the postseason competition after the team swept C-USA rival Southern Miss en route to the championship game. UAB's 2-1 extra-inning loss in the title game against perennial power DePaul may have ended the Blazers' season, but the strong finish gave Townsend and her team plenty of optimism for the future. The Blazers achieved a school-record 39-22 mark in 2002 and turned in a program-best, 10-game winning streak during the spring season. The 10-consecutive wins proved to be the seventh-best mark in C-USA history.

The Blazers' success in 2002 followed a rigorous 2001 season in which UAB finished with a 27-35 overall mark and ended the year as the sixth-place team in the C-USA standings (10-11 record). The Blazers led the nation in double plays turned and registered a team-high mark of 35 during the 2001 season. In 2000 -- UAB's inaugural season -- Townsend guided the team to a 23-38 overall record and a fifth-place finish in the conference. Townsend led the Blazers to a 9-7 record against in-state competition, including well-earned victories against Auburn, Samford, Jacksonville State and Alabama A&M.

UAB was not Townsend's first head coaching position. Prior to becoming a member of the Blazer family, Townsend was the head coach of the Classic White Lightning 16-and-under Amateur Softball Association (ASA) team in both 1995 and 1996. The club won the ASA regional title and the state championship in both seasons.

Townsend also spent two seasons as the head coach at Pelham High School where she compiled a stellar 77-34 overall record. In 1998, Pelham finished fifth in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A Tournament and was tabbed as the No. 1-ranked team in Class 6A by The Birmingham News. Also in 1998, Townsend served as the head coach of the North team during the AHSAA Alabama All-Star week and her team impressively blanked the South squad in both games, 9-0 and 7-0. Townsend is a two-time recipient of the Jefferson County Softball Coach of the Year award, was named the Shelby County Softball Coach of the Year and has also garnered high accolades as a player. Townsend earned First-Team All-America recognition in both fastpitch and slowpitch competition in 1992 and was a valuable outfielder on several national championship slowpitch teams.

Townsend is a graduate of Pinson Valley High School in 1982 and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama in 1986. She continued her education with a master’s degree from UAB in 1991 and has also added an education specialist degree from the University of Montevallo in 1998. She has one daughter, Maia, who was born on Feb. 21, 2004, and one son, Luke, who was born on Sept. 30, 2015.

Townsend's Accomplishments

2013 Conference USA Coach of the Year

2013 Part of NFCA Mideast Coaching Staff of the Year

2008 Inducted into the Alabama Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame

2002, 2006 and 2013 Conference USA Coach of the Year

1998 Shelby County Coach of the Year

1990 Jefferson County Coach of the Year

1989 Jefferson County Coach of the Year