The University of Sioux Falls has named Kelsey Thompson its new head softball coach, Director of Athletics Kevin Hesser announced on Wednesday.

She will replace Travis Lape, who resigned last month to pursue other professional opportunities.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kelsey as our new softball head coach,” said Hesser.  “Kelsey brings a great deal of passion to the job and knows NCAA Division II softball as both a successful player and coach.”

“The fact that Kelsey played softball in the NSIC and has strong recruiting ties in this region also makes her a very good fit for us,” he added.

Thompson, who spent the last three seasons as part of the Augustana College Vikings’ coaching staff, will begin her first stint as a head coach trying to improve on the Cougars’ 15-27 inaugural NSIC campaign. She inherits a team that lost six players to graduation and returns 18 student-athletes.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to become the next head softball coach at the University of Sioux Falls,” said Thompson. “This program is primed and ready to have success in the NSIC and Division II and I am truly blessed to have been chosen as the next leader of such an exciting program packed with so much potential.”

“This program excites me as I have an opportunity to follow the University's example and look to build a complete student-athlete,” she added. “On an academic, athletic and personal level, my goal is to prepare each student-athlete to succeed and represent USF and the softball program in a positive fashion both on and off the field.”

Thompson spent last season as an assistant with Augustana College under Gretta Melsted, where the Vikings went 32-17 overall (17-9, NSIC) and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive year. She was Melsted’s graduate assistant coach from 2010-12.

“I would like to thank the staff at Augustana College for preparing me for such an outstanding opportunity here at the University of Sioux Falls,” said Thompson.

Thompson starred collegiately for two seasons at Minnesota State, Mankato. As a senior, the former catcher was named the 2010 NSIC Player of the Year. She also racked up All-NSIC first team, Daktronics All-America second team, Louisville Slugger/American Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America second team, Daktronics Central Region Player of the Year, Daktronics All-Central Region and Louisville Slugger NFCA All-Central Region first team honors. Thompson hit .431 with 11 home runs as a senior and tied the program’s single season home run record (13) as a junior.

Thompson transferred to MSU after playing a pair of seasons at St. Cloud State University, where she was named a 2006 & 2007 NFCA Academic All-American.

She had a stellar prep career at Blue Earth Area High School, where she was a four-year starter in softball in addition to a two-year letterwinner in both basketball and volleyball. A three-time all-state selection, Thompson was named to the 2005 Team Minnesota and the 2005 All-Area Player of the Year.

Among her other activities, Thompson previously served as an assistant coach with the Mankato Peppers (2009-10) and Minnesota Blizzard (2007-08) U-18 squads. She graduated from Minnesota State in 2010 with a degree in exercise science with a sports medicine minor and holds a master’s degree in sports administration and leadership from Augustana College.

"I am absolutely thrilled at the opportunity I have at USF," said Thompson. "We get to compete in the NSIC, which is the highest level of softball in Division II, and we have the full support of the school and the community.”

“I think that USF has all the tools in place to succeed in the NSIC, and I can't wait to make a difference with each of these kids as a player and a person,” she finished. “I cannot thank Kevin Hesser and the athletic staff enough for entrusting me with this great program, and I look forward to becoming a part of the great staff and community at The University of Sioux Falls.”

*Contributing to this article are & the University of Sioux Falls