A former Bradley assistant coach and Decatur, Ill., native, Amy Hayes returned to The Hilltop in the summer of 2008 and led the Braves to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in her first season as head coach during the spring of 2009. A 1992 graduate of Evansville, Hayes is beginning her fifth year as Bradley's head coach and 12th overall as a collegiate head coach.
The 10th coach in program history, Hayes and the Braves used an impressive late season run to close out her first year en route to the program's first Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title and subsequent NCAA Tournament appearance. The late season push helped the Bradley coaching staff garner National Fastpitch Coaches Association's Mideast Coaching Staff of the Year honors in 2009.
Hayes heads into her fifth season on The Hilltop with a 75-133 (.361) record as head coach of the Braves and a 288-309 (.482) in 11 years as a head coach. She is fourth in career wins at BU and her 34 wins in Missouri Valley Conference play rank as the third best career league win total in program history.
Bradley ended the 2012 season on a strong note, snapping MVC regular-season champion Northern Iowa's 18-game regular-season conference win streak in addition to taking two of three games from Southern Illinois for BU's first series victory against the Salukis since the 2000 season. Madeline Lynch-Crumrine earned First-Team All-Missouri Valley Conference honors for the second straight year and became just the fourth player in program history to be named a Louisville Slugger NFCA All-Mideast Region selection.
In addition to Lynch-Crumrine's honors in 2012, then sophomore Bailiegh Basham set school season records for walks (36), hit by pitch (12) and on base percentage (.480) after transferring from Lake Land College.
In 2011, Lynch-Crumrine joined Bradley Hall of Fame member Beth Hawkins as the only players in program history to earn First-Team All-Valley honors as a freshman. Joining Lynch-Crumrine on the all-conference team in 2011 was the senior duo of Brittany Fairbairn (first team) and Kate Singler (second team). Fairbairn, who hit .351 during her final season on The Hilltop, was a Second Team Capital One Academic All-America selection and was joined on the Academic All-District Team by Singler.
The 2010 season saw the Braves post impressive early season victories against preseason Horizon League favorite Cleveland State and a 4-2 victory at New Mexico State. Amanda Clack, who earned honorable mention All-MVC accolades, finished the year with the highest batting average for a Brave (.313) since Trish Kowalewski hit .326 in 2005. Janay Mitchell also garnered honorable mention all-conference honors in her final year on The Hilltop.
With one week remaining in the 2009 regular season and the Braves in ninth place in the Missouri Valley Conference standings, Hayes led Bradley to a midweek doubleheader sweep of Indiana State and three-game sweep of Missouri State in the final week to catapult BU into sixth place in the final regular season standings.
Bradley finished one-and-a half games out of fourth-place in the Valley standings with a 12-12 league record. The 12 conference wins were a school record and the .500 mark and sixth-place finish were the best for the Braves since 1995.
The Braves were not done there, however, going on to win four consecutive games in three days to claim the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title. Bradley opened tournament play with a 3-2, eight-inning win against Missouri State and followed it up with a 4-2 victory against #3 seed Northern Iowa later that same day.
In the semifinals, Bradley topped #2 seed Southern Illinois (5-3) to advance to the team's first championship game appearance since the 1996 tournament.
A pair of solo home runs and two-hit shutout by pitcher Birdsong highlighted the Braves 2-0 win against #1 seed Creighton as the Braves knocked off the top three seeds in the tournament in consecutive days to claim its first NCAA Tournament appearance. Bradley became the first host to win the MVC Tournament in the 27-year history of the event.
Bradley extended its win streak to 10 consecutive games with a 1-0 victory against 15th-seed and 20th-ranked DePaul in the opening game of the Columbia, Mo., NCAA Regional. The 10-game win streak, which is tied for the second longest in school history, came to an end with a 2-1 loss to 12th-ranked and eventual World Series participant Missouri.
Bradley finished the 2009 season with a 26-28 overall record and posted two victories against teams ranked in the top 25. BU owned an impressive 16-9 home record, marking the second most home victories in program history.
Ashley Birdsong was named a First-Team All-MVC pick, marking the first time a Bradley player was a first-team selection since 2006. Birdsong also went on to claim MVC Tournament MVP honors and earned NFCA All-Mideast Region honors. Alycia Bachkora, helped highlight Bradley's offensive efforts, belting a school season record 10 home runs with 10 in addition to earning second-team All-Valley honors and was an ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District V selection.
Hayes came back to Bradley after three years as head coach at Portland State. She led Portland State to a 92-81 (.532) record, including the Vikings first-ever regular-season conference championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in her first season in 2006. She was head coach at Boston University (2001-04) for four seasons and led the Terriers to three America East Conference regular-season titles, two conference tournament titles and back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2002 and 2003.. Her players have gone on to capture 20 first-team all-conference honors, nine all-region selections and three conference players of the year.
Hayes earned Pacific Coast Softball Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2006 and led the Vikings to a 38-20 record and first-ever conference title. Portland State, which was 17-28 the year prior to her arrival and had never posted a winning record since moving to the Division I level in 1999, advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history and had three players earn first team all-conference honors in her first year. In addition, pitcher Mandy Hill was named conference Pitcher of the Year and also earned second-team NFCA All-West Region honors.
The next year, Portland State finished fourth in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference regular-season race and catcher Brandi Scoggins earned PCSC co-Freshman of the Year honors in addition to second-team NFCA All-Pacific honors.
In 2008, Hayes' Vikings finished 31-27 overall and tied for second in the PCSC regular-season race in addition to posting wins against PAC 10 conference powers Washington, Oregon State and Oregon. Portland State boasted the conference Freshman of the Year for the second consecutive year and had two first-team all-conference selections. Hayes was the coach for the Portland All-Stars which faced the USA Olympic team.
Hayes was an assistant coach at Oregon during the 2004-05 school year and helped the Ducks to an NCAA Tournament appearance during the 2005 season.
Prior to her one-year stop in Eugene, Ore., she was head coach at Boston University (2001-04). She led the Terriers to three consecutive America East Titles (2001, 02 & 03) and back-to-back conference tournament titles (2002 & 03). During that time she guided Boston to a 121-95 (.560) record, including an impressive 68-18 (.791) mark in America East regular-season play.
During her tenure in Boston, the Terriers swept the conference Player, Pitcher and Rookie of the Year awards in 2002, marking the first time in the history of the America East Conference that one team claimed all three honors in the same season. Boston University claimed 15 first-team America East All-Conference picks, seven NFCA All-Northeast Region selections, two conference Players of the Year, two conference Pitchers of the Year, two conference Rookies of the Year and 12 America East All-Tournament picks. During the summer of 2003, Hayes was the pitching coach for the Spanish National Team, helping the squad prepare for the 2003 World Cup Tournament in Italy.
Hayes took over the head coaching reigns at Boston University after a three-year run as an assistant coach at Virginia Tech. She helped the Hokies to an impressive 127-69 (.648) record, which included a 95-38 (.714) conference mark during her time in Blacksburg, Va.
In her only season on The Hilltop as an assistant coach, Hayes helped the Braves to a 25-37 record during the 1997 campaign.
She graduated from Evansville in 1992 with a degree in sociology with a specialization in anthropology and earned First-Team Midwestern Collegiate Conference honors as a senior. She served as a graduate assistant at Evansville during the 1993 season and was the head coach at Maroa-Forsyth High School in Maroa, Ill., during the 1993-94 school year.
Hayes played overseas in New Zealand after graduating from Evansville and competed for 10 years at the Women's Major Level from 1987-97.
Hayes has served on the regional and national ranking committees and is an active member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, currently serving as the chair of the Diversity Committee and also serves as the Missouri Valley Conference representative on the NCAA Division I Head Coaches Committee.
In 2008, the Bradley coaching staff founded POPS (Peoria Organizing Pride in Softball), whose mission is to increase continuity and strengthen the softball presence in the greater Peoria area through education and developmental instruction.