In her 16 years as head softball coach, Emily Russell has proven to be a winner, just like she was as a record-setting pitcher for the Lee University Lady Flames thirteen seasons ago.
Russell's Lady Flames have earned 20 or more wins in all 16 seasons of her leadership, including six seasons of 40 or more wins, two of those with more than 50 wins. Overall, Russell has amassed a record of 608-282-1.
In 2017, Russell's club ended with a 36-20 mark and advanced all the way to the NCAA South Super Regional before falling to No. 5 and fellow Gulf South Conference member West Florida. It was the first trip to the NCAA Championship stage in program history. The Lady Flames ended the record-setting season ranked No. 15 in the final NFCA Top 25 poll, marking their first ever NCAA ranking.
Lee won the South Region 2 Bracket with three straight victories over GSC rivals. The Lady Flames defeated Alabama Huntsville (7-4) and defending national champion North Alabama twice (4-2, 3-2) to advance on as one of the final 16 teams in the NCAA D2 National Tournament.
In 2015 the Lady Flames finished 36-19 and 18-11 in the Gulf South Conference. Lee won the NCCAA Mid-East Region Tournament and finished third at the NCCAA World Series. For the third straight year Russell coached the national player of the year as Kaylie Drew won the honor (NCCAA) after smashing 18 home runs for the Lady Flames.
Russell led the Lady Flames into NCAA Division II and the Gulf South Conference in 2014. Lee finished with a record of 25-24 and had a conference mark of 13-14. Russell coached the NCCAA Player of the Year in Ana Coscorrosa. The power hitting Venezuelan set school career marks in batting average (.451), RBI (231) and hits (275).
In 2010, Russell's Lady Flames earned a 57-5 record, finishing as the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) regular season and tournament champions, on their way to a No. 2 NAIA National Ranking.
That same year, the Lee ladies also competed in the NAIA National Tournament for the first time since 2007, their sixth trip overall. For their outstanding season, Coach Russell was named the SSAC Coach of the Year.
Russell directed the Lady Flames to the SSAC regular season and tournament crowns in 2006, finishing the season with a sparkling record of 55-14. The 2005 Lady Flames finished second in the SSAC regular season, third in the SSAC tournament, and fourth in the NAIA Region XIII Tournament.
In 2004, Coach Russell led her team to the school's first TranSouth Tournament Championship, an NAIA Region XI championship, and the program's third trip to the NAIA National Tournament. For their success, Russell and her staff were named the 2004 NAIA-Softball Coaches Association's Coaching Staff of the Year.
While pitching at Lee, Russell hurled an amazing 305 innings during the 2000 season. She struck out 194 hitters in those 305 innings, at that time a school record. After her playing days for the Lady Flames, she traveled to Europe and pitched professionally for two summers.
Russell holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Lee University, as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching from Lee.
The Lee coach makes her home in Cleveland and is married to Sean Russell. The couple has two sons, Tyson and Carson.
Head coach Emily Russell and the Lee softball team has named former Charleston Southern University standout Natalie Yonan as the new assistant softball coach for the Lady Flames.
Yonan was a four-year starter for the Buccaneers and ranks in the top-25 in program history in eight categories. She ranks fourth in assists (413) and eighth in walks (67). She stands 15th in putouts (356), 17th in doubles (22) and at bats (518), 18th in fielding percentage (.960), 19th in runs (66), and 24th in on-base percentage (.297).
"We are very excited to have somebody of Natalie’s ability and character joining our program. She is energetic and knowledgeable and her previous playing and coaching experience have quipped her to be a good teacher of the game and relate well to the athletes," said Russell. "She will be working with the infield and helping with hitting. We think that she will make a big impact with her ability to communicate and motivate the team."
Originally from Susanville, Calif. Yonan graduated from Charleston Southern with her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology in 2016. The last two years she served as a volunteer assistant for the University of Toledo.
Former Toledo head coach and current Rutgers head coach Kristen Butler had this to say about Yonan, “I am so excited for Natalie’s hire at Lee University. Coach Russell is a very successful coach and I know Natalie will add to the great program. Natalie was such an integral part of our coaching staff in our Championship season last year. She is extremely knowledgeable of the game and is a phenomenal coach. I couldn’t be more excited for Natalie and this opportunity.”
"I'm thrilled to be joining such a successful softball program," said Yonan. "I'm anxious to get to work and help continue the great tradition of Lee University softball. I feel fortunate to be a part of such a great community at Lee. I want to thank coach Russell and Larry Carpenter (Athletic Director) for giving me this opportunity."
Jessica McIntyre is in her sixth year as an assistant coach with the Lady Flames softball team in 2019.
She is a 2009 graduate of the University of Mobile with a double major in Sport Administration and Human Performance Exercise Science. While at Mobile she was a member of the softball team from 2004-2008. The Rams won the NAIA National Championship in 2006 and were National Championship Runner-Up in 2008. McIntyre was named to the GCAC All-Conference and All-Region team in 2007. She was awarded the NAIA Champion of Character Award in 2008 and was an NAIA Academic All-American from 2007-2008.
McIntyre received her master’s degree in Sport Administration from Belmont University in 2012. While completing her degree she served as a Compliance Intern where she composed waivers as necessary, researched and provided rules interpretations to coaches and athletic staff and maintained and regulated practice hours for each sport.
In addition to her coaching responsibilities McIntyre also serves as the Director of Internal Affairs for the Lee University Athletic Department.