Champions are led by leaders, and South Carolina Head Softball Coach Joyce Compton is both a champion and a leader. In the history of NCAA softball, Carolina is known for its tradition and success, thanks to the efforts of Coach Compton. Inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame on December 6, 2002, the legendary Compton now enters her 23rd year at the helm of Gamecock Softball.
After 26 seasons at a Division I school, the two-time Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year has amassed a 1,034-499-3 record. That Division I record puts Compton among the top 25 winningest coaches in NCAA history. Among her SEC peers, Compton is second in career victories and first in victories at their current school. As the longest tenured female coach in Gamecock history, Compton is one of 13 coaches in NCAA history to serve at one school for at least 20 years, and among seven active coaches, ranking sixth. In 33 years of coaching, Compton is 1,127-518-3.
Awards have not just rolled in for Compton, but also for her players during her time in Columbia, Since 1997, the first year of SEC Softball, South Carolina has had 15 All-SEC selections, 19 SEC All-Tournament selections, 108 SEC Academic Honor Roll selections, 11 CoSIDA Academic All-District honorees and five CoSIDA Academic All-Americans.
The year 2007 served as a return to prominence for the Gamecocks, as they advanced into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004. Carolina not only hosted the regional round, but it also upset No. 16-seeded North Carolina State and nationally-ranked Oregon to advance into the program's first Super Regional. There, the Garnet and Black fought valiantly before ultimately falling to Northwestern. Compton surpassed another milestone in her legendary career on March 27, 2007, when she recorded her 1,000th Division I victory over Winthrop.
During the 2007 season, McKenna Hughes set the Gamecock career home-run record and also picked up SEC All-Tournament accolades. Melissa Hendon and Lindsay Walker also garnered SEC weekly honors during the campaign.
The 2008 team rebounded from a tough early season schedule but could not continue the success, ending the season with a 21-26 record overall. Compton did record her 900th win at Carolina during the campaign.
In 2006, the team finished 28-30, while the 2005 edition went 28-28-1.
In 2004, Compton recorded her 1,000th career win, her 900th NCAA Division I win and her 800th Carolina win. She also led the Gamecocks to a program-record sixth consecutive NCAA appearance.
Carolina Softball celebrated its 30th year in 2003 while Compton was in her 28th year of coaching. She led her team to its fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament, 13th NCAA trip overall and its seventh-straight SEC Tournament. The Gamecocks also recorded their fifth-consecutive 40-plus win season. Ashley Smith finished her career in style, as she was named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for softball for the third time while she picked up her third consecutive ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America certificate from the College Sports Information Directors of America.
In 2002, Compton led a talented Gamecock program to an SEC Eastern Division title for the second year in a row, and to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time during her tenure at Carolina.
With a 46-20 overall record in 2002, the SEC Co-Coach of the Year posted her fourth consecutive 40-plus win season, 11th overall while coaching at Carolina. Also in 2002, the Gamecocks went 20-10 in the SEC to record their first 20-plus win conference record since 1997, the first year the SEC sponsored softball.
In 2000, Compton and her USC squad rebounded from a sub-par regular season performance and claimed the program's second-ever SEC Tournament title.
Much of Compton's success comes from her fine tuning of the defensive aspect of the game. Compton's coaching philosophy centers around the notion that offense wins games, but defense wins championships. Throughout her career, Compton has become accustomed to winning championships.
During the glorious 1997 season, USC won a Division I record 38-straight games, the SEC regular season and tournament championships, a fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and the school's third appearance at the Women's College World Series. In 1989, the Gamecocks won the South Regional Championship, earning a trip to the Women's College World Series. Compton earned another trip to the Women's College World Series in 1983 when she skippered the Missouri Tigers to the Midwest Regional Championship and their first Big Eight title.
For the success she has earned in the coaching ranks, Compton has earned several prestigious awards. In addition to her NFCA 2002 Hall of Fame induction, she has five Region Coach of the Year honors in 1987, 1989, 1994,1995 and 1997 as well as the inaugural SEC Coach of the Year award in 1997. She earned that honor again in 2002
Compton is the first to admit, however, that her success is a result of the players whom she has coached. That list of players reads like a who's who of collegiate softball players, including 11 different Carolina players who have achieved All-America status a total of 21 times. In 1997, pitcher Trinity Johnson garnered first-team All-America status while Tina Plew was named to the second team. It was the third consecutive year that Johnson was named an All-American. Johnson also was a Honda Award honoree and was named the 1997 SEC Female Athlete of the Year. In 2003, infielder Danielle Quinones was invited to the USA National team tryouts, a first for a Carolina player since 1999.
"I have been lucky to have talented players, as well as having fine assistant coaches, to work with," stated Compton. "They are directly responsible for any success which I am able to obtain as a coach."
Compton's collegiate coaching career began in 1975 at Mattatuck Community College in Waterbury, Connecticut. For her efforts, Compton was named Coach of the Year in Mattatuck's conference an unprecedented five times. Compton also coached the women's basketball and volleyball teams at Mattatuck.
After seven seasons at Mattatuck, Compton was named head softball coach at the University of Missouri in 1983. Her career at Missouri was highlighted by an overall record of 115-77 and a berth in the Women's College World Series. While at Missouri, Compton became the all-time winningest coach in MU history, a record which stood until the 1991 season.
In 1987, after four straight winning seasons, Compton made the move from one Columbia to another, becoming the Gamecocks' fifth head coach in 13 years.
Immediately, Compton instilled her winning system into the Gamecock program, which has been the basis of Carolina softball and its successful legacy.
Compton is a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, and she has served on various NFCA and NCAA Committees.
Before becoming a softball coach, Compton was successful as a player as well. While earning all-star status at Trenton State College, she became a member of the nationally known Raybestos Brakettes amateur team from 1973-1975. While playing first base, Compton led the team to three-consecutive national championships and an international championship as well. Her numbers were almost as impressive as her coaching record, posting an overall batting average of .388 and knocking in 142 runs.
Compton furthered her playing career as a member of the Connecticut Falcons, a professional softball team. She earned all-star honors when she batted .355 during the regular season and .300 in World Series play in 1978. While playing first base for the Falcons, she led the team to four World Series Championships in the Women's Professional Softball League. Compton also accompanied the team to China to perform exhibitions and clinics for the Chinese softball players.
During her playing career, Compton established herself as one of the most dominant offensive performers in the nation. For three consecutive years, from 1976-78, she was the RBI champion in the Women's Professional League.
The success that Compton has achieved has not gone unnoticed by her coaching peers either.
"Joyce's teams are always well coached and well disciplined," stated Yvette Girouard, head coach at Louisiana State. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for the job she has done at South Carolina."
Coach Compton is a winner. From a small college in Connecticut, to the University of Missouri, to the University of South Carolina, she has left her mark on them all. Three different programs, but one common denominator -- success!
Joyce Compton File