Patti Townsend is entering her 17th season as head coach of the Tallahassee Community College softball team and her 23nd year overall with the Eagles’ program.
Tallahassee Community College rewarded Townsend with her first head coaching position, hiring her on July 3, 2003 – just the third head coach in school history. Now, she is the Dean of coaches in the Panhandle Conference and one of the longest-tenured coaches in Region 8.
The Eagles’ veteran head coach knows Tallahassee softball and the Panhandle Conference as well as anyone, having served as an assistant coach under both of her predecessors, Maria Mendoza and Lori Goodart, from 1996-2002. Prior to that, she was a graduate assistant at Florida State University under legendary coach Dr. JoAnne Graf in 1995-96.
Entering the 2019 season, Townsend's career record stands at 428-368-1, and her clubs have qualified for the Florida College System Activities Association (FCSAA) State Softball Tournament 11 times in 15 seasons.
Townsend's most recent milestone victory came on April 4, 2017 - NJCAA win No. 400 in the Eagles' 2-1 win over Pensacola State College. Prior to that, she picked up career NJCAA win No. 300 on March 1, 2014, in a 9-0 win over Indian Hills (Iowa) Community College at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga., and the milestone victory was just the start of a memorable 2014 season.
The Eagles matched the 2011 squad for most wins during the Townsend Era, finishing the season at 41-14. Along the way, Tallahassee ended the regular season as the No. 1 team in the FCSAA Softball Coaches' Poll, was ranked No. 5 in the final NJCAA Division I Softball Poll, won its first Panhandle Conference Championship since 1998 and first FCSAA State Championship since 1994 - when the Eagles were a slow pitch program.
Before Tallahassee claimed the state championship over the College of Central Florida, it won the NJCAA Region 8B/FCSAA Gulf District Tournament in dramatic fashion. After losing their opening game on day one of the tournament, the Eagles won six straight elimination games, including two against Polk State College on the final day to punch their ticket to the NJCAA Tournament in St. George, Utah.
As a result of the Eagles' string of championships, Townsend was named FCSAA and Panhandle Conference Coach of the Year for the first time and captured her third FCSAA Gulf District Coach of the Year award.
In 2012, the Eagles posted a 36-13 record, enjoyed an eight-week stay atop the Florida College System Activities Association (FCSAA) Softball Coaches’ Poll, was ranked wire-to-wire in the NJCAA Division I Softball Poll – peaking at No. 2 – and earned a berth in the NJCAA Region 8B/FCSAA Gulf District Tournament for the seventh time in nine years under Townsend.
In 2011, Townsend guided Tallahassee to its best finish in the College's fast pitch history.
The Eagles finished with a 41-22 record and earned a third-place finish at the NJCAA Division I Softball National Tournament in St. George, Utah. Tallahassee earned its trip to the national tournament after winning the NJCAA Region 8B/FCSAA Gulf District Tournament, where the Eagles were a perfect 4-0, culminating with a 2-0 win over Polk State.
Earlier in the 2011 season, on February 18, Townsend reached a personal milestone, recording her 200th NJCAA victory in Tallahassee’s 6-1 win over Wallace State-Hanceville.
Following the 2011 season, Townsend and assistant coaches Jennifer McKibben and Jennifer Whitley were recognized by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association as the NJCAA Division I South Region Coaching Staff of the Year.
In 2008, the Eagles won their first NJCAA Region 8B/FCSAA Gulf District Championship following a magical, albeit improbable, run through the eight-team tournament. A 7-6, 11-inning victory over PC rival Pensacola State College on May 4, 2008, clinched the tournament championship and gave the Eagles their first-ever berth in the NJCAA’s Division I Softball National Tournament, where they eventually finished as one of the final 12 teams in contention for the national title.
Though she has extensive coaching experience, it was as a standout player where Townsend first made her name.
A four-year starter at the University of Michigan, the former Patti Benedict was a two-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American, earning first-team honors in 1993 after a third-team selection in 1992. After being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 1990, she earned a pair of Big Ten Player of the Year awards (1992, 1993). In 2002, as part of Michigan's 25th anniversary of softball, she was named to the Wolverines' Silver Anniversary Team. She concluded her career as Michigan's all-time hit leader (244) and her 22 triples ranked No. 2 in program history, keyed by a single-season record 11 in 1993. She also landed in the top ten all-time in stolen bases (50) and batting average (.421).
Townsend also has international experience, having played for Team USA in 1995 and 1997. The 1995 squad captured the Gold Medal at the Pan American Games in Mar de Plata, Argentina.
Following her collegiate career, Townsend joined the Women's Professional Softball League (WPSL), first as a coach with the Georgia Pride (1996-97) and then as a player with the Pride and the Florida Wahoos. In 2000, she led the Wahoos to the WPSL Championship and was named league Most Valuable Player and Hitter of the Year after leading the league in batting average (.330), hits (35) and doubles (six). She also placed in the top five in three additional offensive categories, including on-base percentage (.366), slugging percentage (.434) and runs scored (11).
As Tallahassee’s head coach, Townsend guided the Eagles to four consecutive berths in the NJCAA Region 8B/FCSAA Gulf District Tournament (2005-08). Tallahassee clinched its first trip to the postseason under Townsend in 2005 by defeating arch-rival Chipola College, two games to one, in a sudden death playoff. In 2006, Tallahassee brought home a third-place finish in the eight-team tournament and, in the process, earned victories over nationally-ranked State College of Florida (No. 9) and St. Petersburg College (No. 17). En route to the 2007 tournament, Townsend and the Eagles picked up 33 wins.
Townsend’s teams have also delivered numerous individual honors, both on and off the field. To date, more than 60 of her players have received All-Panhandle Conference recognition. More than 90 have also been named to the Panhandle Conference All-Academic team. Additionally, 29 of Townsend's student-athletes have been recognized by the NJCAA's various academic award platforms.
Her 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 teams were recognized by the NJCAA for finishing with a team GPA above a 3.0.
Townsend, an enthusiastic advocate for volunteerism, is known for coaching her players on the importance of giving back to the community. In recent years, Tallahassee softball players have volunteered at Tallahassee’s annual Christmas Festival, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and Gretchen Everhart School.
In addition to coaching, Townsend is one of the nation's most sought-after hitting instructors. Among her stops are legendary Yankee Stadium in New York and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, where she has worked with camps sponsored by Major League Baseball for underprivileged children. She has also served as an instructor for the National Sports Clinics, sponsored by Mary Nutter.
Townsend earned a bachelor's degree in sports management and communication from Michigan. She and her husband, Jimmy, were married on November 2, 2002, and currently reside in Monticello, Fla., with their daughter, Ali.