Janelle Breneman is in her seventh year at the helm of the softball program at UNCG in 2019. The Spartans have posted winning seasons every season under Breneman and won the last two Southern Conference Regular Season Championships as well as the 2018 SoCon Tournament Title. She has amassed a record of 202-130 in five seasons, and four of her last six teams have topped 30 wins. She needs just 19 wins in the 2019 season to become the all-time winningest-coach in program history.
Under Breneman's tutelage, UNCG has had 14 NFCA All-Mideast Region selections, 16 first team All-SoCon selections, 17 second teamers, four SoCon All-Freshman, a pair of Freshman of the Year, four SoCon Pitchers of the Month, five SoCon Players of the Month, 19 SoCon Players of the Week, and eight SoCon Pitcher of the Week awards. UNCG has also garnered five CoSIDA Academic All-District selections and a second team CoSIDA Academic All-American.
2018 was an historic season for UNCG as the Spartans won its first SoCon Tournament and made their second NCAA Regional Appearance in program history. Breneman became the first UNCG coach to be named SoCon Coach of the Year and just the second to win the coaching award from any conference. With the 10-best win-loss percentage (.780) in the nation that is the best in school history, the 46 wins were the second-most victories in a single season in program history.
Earlier in the year the Spartans ripped off a 15-game winning streak, matching the feat done by the 1995 team for the second-longest victory streak in program history. UNCG owned an impressive 22-3 home record, the best mark in the SoCon and in program history and finished the regular season 6-1 against the ACC and 14-2 against in-state opponents by a combined score of 107-48.
A league-high four Spartans were named to the all-conference first team: pitcher Alicia Bazonski, third baseman Gabi Cubbage, second baseman Jasmine Palmer and first baseman Marisa Sholtes. Pitcher Stephanie Bryden and outfielder Makenna Matthijs were named to the second team, and pitcher Hannah Stiltner joined Matthijs on the all-freshman team. Bryden was also was named to the NFCA All-Region First Team, while Bazonski and Sholtes were selected to the second team and Cubbage to the third team.
2017 was also a remarkable season for UNCG as the Spartans ran up a 29-24 overall record and an 11-6 mark in conference play to claim the program's first-ever SoCon Regular Season Championship and the first conference title for the Blue and Gold since winning the Big South in 1996.
UNCG had five players named All-SoCon in first teamers Sholtes and Cubbage as well as second team honorees shortstop Rachael McClaskey, Palmer and Bazonski. Palmer also garnered a Third Team All-MidEast Region nod from the NFCA. As a team, the Spartans cranked out a league high 61 home runs, ranking eighth nationally at 1.15 dingers per game.
In 2016, the Spartans earned a 33-26 overall record. The 2016 team had a pair of players earn First Team All-Southern Conference honors, two earned Second Team All-SoCon, and the Spartans garnered their second SoCon Freshman of the Year award. The 61 home runs by the team are the most any UNCG team has hit in school history. UNCG hit for a .300 average, while leading the league with 61 home runs.
In the opening weekend, UNCG netted its first wins over a Big 12 opponent, defeating Kansas twice at the Jacksonville University Invitational. The Spartans also notched their third win over in-state rival, NC State, defeating the Wolfpack 11-10 in eight innings. The Blue and Gold finished 9-9 in conference action, taking series with Mercer and ETSU, and earning a three-game sweep, of perennial SoCon power, Chattanooga.
During Breneman's third year at the helm, UNCG had its third-straight winning season (25-22) becoming the first coach since Melody Cope (UNCG Hall of Fame honoree) to achieve three winnings seasons in a row. Breneman's 127 wins already ranked fourth all-time in school history.
Under Breneman's guidance in 2015, five Spartans were named SoCon All-Conference with three first team selections in juniors Lindsay Thomas, Nicole Thomas and sophomore Tory Wright. Juniors Danielle Vega and Allison Geiner were named second team. As a team, UNCG broke the school record with a .324 batting average breaking a mark set in 1995 (.316). In the field, the team committed 60 errors, which was fourth fewest all-time.
In Breneman's second season at UNCG, the Spartans earned 30 wins for the second-straight season and made the SoCon title game for the second year in a row.
Breneman helped improve offensive numbers as the team scored the second most runs (331), hits (483), average (.312) while breaking the school record for most RBI at 306 and tying the home run mark (57). The team also shattered the school record for doubles with 86 breaking a mark that was set in 1995 (78). She helped numerous players set career highs in hits, average, home runs and RBI, including Katelyn Bedwell who was named SoCon Player of the Year. Also had three first team All-SoCon members in Bedwell, Lindsay Thomas, Nicole Thomas and a second team selection in Dominique Madruga.
Her first season at UNCG was a success after helping the program post 38 victories which is the third highest total in school history. The Spartans started the season 17-3 which was the best start since 2003.
Breneman led the Spartans to a berth in the Southern Conference title game falling in extra innings to Georgia Southern, 1-0, in her first season. Under her direction, UNCG saw its batting improve by 43 points in her first year. Breneman was instrumental in helping the Spartans set top five marks in runs scored (290), hits (449), doubles (72), slugging percentage (.422) and RBI (254).
Breneman helped two UNCG players earn All-Southern Conference first team honors in Bedwell and Lindsay Thomas. Breneman mentored Thomas to being named the first UNCG Freshman of the Year in the SoCon. Also six Spartans' made All-SoCon second team and two named to the All-Freshman squad. Bedwell made first team All-Region after Breneman tutored her to a then career-high 52 runs batted in.
In the field, UNCG had only 71 errors, which are 10 less than the entire 2012 season. The Spartans' also had a .958 fielding percentage under Breneman during her first season.
Breneman, who spent eight years in the SEC and ACC, was named the ninth head softball coach in UNCG softball history July 18, 2012. Breneman brings 17 years of collegiate coaching experience to UNCG, including nine years as a head coach at both Bucknell and East Stroudsburg.
Breneman spent two seasons as the top assistant coach in the prestigious SEC at South Carolina under head coach Beverly Smith. She was the infield coach and played a pivotal role in the team's defense, while assisting the team's offense. Under her direction, South Carolina saw its fielding percentage improve over 26 points her first year in Columbia, while leading the SEC in double plays. Offensively, the Gamecocks improved in every statistical category during her tenure, including raising the team batting average 51 points in her first year.
Prior to South Carolina, Breneman spent six seasons as an assistant coach at North Carolina for head coach Donna Papa. She helped the Tar Heels post five 40-plus win seasons and advance to the NCAA Tournament every season. She was an integral part of the program that was ranked in the Top 25 in four of her six seasons in Chapel Hill.
Under her guidance, the North Carolina defense led the Atlantic Coast Conference in fielding each year and finished in the top 33 in NCAA Division I all six seasons. Offensively, the Tar Heels ranked in the top 100 in NCAA Division I in home runs per at-bat her final three seasons and she helped Danielle Spaulding become a three-time All-America recipient. During her tenure, eight different student-athletes received 14 All-ACC selections.
Breneman came to UNC after two head coaching stints over a nine-year period at Bucknell (2001-04) and East Stroudsburg (1996-2000). During her run at Bucknell, the Bison made the Patriot League Tournament in 2004, when she was selected as the Patriot League Coach of the Year. She served five seasons as the head coach at Division II East Stroudsburg and helped the Warriors post their first winning season in four years with a 21-18 record in her rookie campaign.
Breneman was also a standout on the field, playing two years in the Women's Pro Softball League for the Georgia Pride and was a four-year letterwinner at Bloomsburg University. She was the starting shortstop during her career and earned All-America honors as a senior. A three-time All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference selection, she still holds the Huskies' career record with 351 assists. She helped Bloomsburg to the NCAA Division II Championships all four years, finishing second in the nation in 1991 and third in both 1990 and 1992.
Breneman earned a bachelor's degree in adult health and cardiac rehabilitation from Bloomsburg in 1993. She was inducted into the Bloomsburg Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Ephrata High School Hall of Fame in 2001.