Softball Coaching Staff
Kelli Zache returns for her third season as the head softball coach at Saint Mary's in the 2015-16 academic year.
During her first season at the helm of the program, Zache led the Belles to their ninth season in-a-row of winning at least half of their games. She also coached a player to First Team All-MIAA and First Team All-Region honors in 2014. In the 2015 season, the Belles finished fourth in the MIAA and earned their first MIAA Tournament victory since the 2006 season. Three of her players were Second Team All-MIAA selections after the team posted a 23-14 overall record.
A native of Niles, Michigan, Zache was a two-time first team all-state selection at Brandywine High School. She went on to play three seasons at Western Michigan University before finishing her career at Bethel College. While at Western Michigan, she threw a one-hit shutout win against Virginia.
In her final season at Bethel, she was a three-time Mid-Central Conference Pitcher of the Week and was a first team all-conference selection. She posted a 22-5 record in the circle with a 1.77 ERA in 166.1 innings pitched. A first team all-region pitcher, she was named to the NCCAA All-Tournament Team at Nationals while also earning NCCAA All-American honors.
Zache has gained coaching experience at the University of Notre Dame's summer camps and served as an assistant coach at both Bethel College and St. Joseph High School. She was also an ASA certified umpire from 2008 to 2012.
Zache is a 2011 graduate of Bethel College where she earned bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Emily Ross joins the Saint Mary’s softball coaching staff for the 2015-16 academic year. A four-year letterwinner at Alma College, Ross played in 164 career games, tallied a .334 career batting average, and had a .560 career slugging percentage while playing first base for the Scots.
The Scots finished second in the MIAA regular season before winning the conference tournament and claiming an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament during her freshman year in 2009. Ross had the third-highest batting average among MIAA players that season with a .457 clip en route to being named First Team All-MIAA. As a sophomore, the Scots won the regular season conference title and earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament. Ross was again tabbed First Team All-MIAA after hitting .449 in league games.
In 2011, the Scots won their second consecutive regular season MIAA title and were an at-large selection for the NCAA Tournament. During her senior season, Ross was named MIAA Position Player of the Week in week three of the season. Alma placed second overall in the conference regular season standings before winning the MIAA Tournament for yet another NCAA Tournament automatic qualifying bid. Ross led the conference in RBIs (20) and was second in runs scored (18) as a senior. She was named Second Team All-MIAA for her third all-conference selection of her career.
Ross is a 2012 graduate of Alma College.
Larry Vaznonis is in his second season as an assistant softball coach at Saint Mary’s in the 2015-16 academic year.
Vaznonis brings a wealth of teaching and coaching experience to the Belles. A physical education and health teacher, he has simultaneously taught and coached throughout much of his professional career. From 2000 to 2008, Vaznonis coached softball and baseball.
A two-sport student-athlete in college, Vaznonis was a successful baseball and basketball athlete at Purdue University Calumet and has since earned the university’s Bob Hayes Athletic Alumni Award. He was a four-time all-conference outfielder for the Pipers while also earning an all-conference nod in basketball. In 1975, he posted better than a .500 batting average on his way to earning the conference batting title. In 2005, Vaznonis was inducted into the City of Hammond, Indiana Sports Hall of Fame.
A 1977 graduate of Purdue University Calumet, Vaznonis earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health. He currently teaches in the South Bend Community School Corporation.
Deb Zache enters her third season as a volunteer assistant coach for the Belles in the 2015-16 season.
Deb has been involved in coaching softball at many levels over the past several years. She and her late husband, Rick Zache, were actively involved with instruction and coaching in the Niles Brandywine Girls Softball Association. The pair started the first travel team from the area, Intensity, in 2002. Intensity was a highly successful travel program and yielded many collegiate softball players over the years.