Tommy Forrester recently completed his ninth year as Head Softball Coach at Emory & Henry College. Forrester’s teams have played in three of the last four NCAA Division III national tournaments (2017, 2019, 2021). In his time at the helm of the program, he coached the Wasps to 217 victories, making him the winningest coach in E&H softball history. Following the 2022 season, Forrester resigned as Head Softball Coach to pursue another position within the Department of Athletics.
Forrester coached E&H to a 26-17 record during 2022 as the Wasps played their first season as a NCAA Division II institution. Freshman Lydia Taylor was picked as a NFCA All-Southeast Region First Teamer and was a finalist for the NFCA Division II Freshman of the Year.
The 2021 season was a banner year for Coach Forrester and the Emory & Henry softball team. The team finished with a program best .763 winning percentage (29-9), a program best ranking of 13 in the final NFCA top 25 poll, and the program’s deepest postseason run in the NCAA National Tournament (T-9th). The team spent the majority of the season ranked in the NFCA top 25 including 3 weeks in the top 10 – two at #9 which is another program best. In the regular season, Emory & Henry finished second in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference behind eventual National Champion Virginia Wesleyan University. The team was eliminated in the championship of the NCAA Seguin Regional to eventual National Runner-Up Texas Lutheran University. Another first in program history occurred when pitcher and designated player Alex Braun was named a First Team All-American by NFCA.
In a shortened 2020 season, the Wasps received an invitation and competed in the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Tucson, Arizona and the BS-C Spring Classic in Birmingham, Alabama. Out of 17 total games, six were against NFCA nationally-ranked competition. The Wasps defeated No. 15 Birmingham-Southern, 5-0, to open the season and Forrester’s team earned an ODAC split at Roanoke College to begin ODAC play before the season was cancelled due to precautions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2019, Forrester’s team won 25 games and proved to be one of the top teams in NCAA division III by playing an elite schedule and earning an at large berth into the NCAA Division III Softball Championship Demorest Regional. The team was regular season runner-up in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference and finished the year with four victories over teams who were featured in the final NFCA Top 25 ranking - including wins over NCAA Super Regional Qualifier Christopher Newport, NCAA Super Regional Qualifier Lynchburg, and two victories over National Championship qualifier Randolph-Macon.
Other highlights of Forrester’s first eight seasons at the helm include 31 wins and the team’s first-ever Top 25 national ranking in the NFCA coaches poll in 2018, breaking the school record for wins in a season (35 in 2017), earning a berth and a victory in the 2017 NCAA Division III Softball Championship Mount Berry Regional, four top-three finishes in the ODAC Tournament (2018, 2017 - Runner-Up; 2015, 2021 - Third Place), and being featured in eleven of the last twelve NCAA Atlantic Regional rankings polls dating back to April 27, 2017.
Forrester’s student-athletes have excelled both on and off the field. In his first eight seasons, one student-athlete has been selected as a first team All-American, 30 have been selected to All-ODAC Teams, seven have been honored as NFCA All-Atlantic Region Team members and ten have been selected to an ODAC All-Tournament Team. Academically, the team has raised its GPA from 2.7 to 3.6 during Forrester’s tenure. Over seventy percent of the roster were awarded ODAC All-Academic honors in 2020 (14 student-athletes) and 2021 (15 student-athletes). The Wasps have also been the recipient of three major ODAC awards under Forrester’s tutelage (Anna Thomas - 2019 Rookie of the Year, Erin Anderson - 2018 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Danielle Loving – 2017 Scholar-Athlete of the Year). Forrester’s teams also participate in a number of camps and service projects around campus and in the community allowing his student-athletes to gain valuable experience and serve while playing collegiate athletics.
A member of the Emory & Henry class of 2004, Forrester returned to the College in the fall of 2013 to lead the softball program. Prior to his return, Forrester spent four years as the Head Softball Coach at Sullivan East High School in Bluff City, Tennessee.
During the summer, Forrester enjoys the opportunity to combine three of his passions – mission work, traveling, and softball. He has been running softball camps in the Czech Republic since 2008 in conjunction with the United Methodist Church and has been able to take several of his current and former players and coaches along to assist with the camps.
As a student-athlete, Forrester was a four-year letterwinner in the infield for the Wasps’ baseball team and was named the Team MVP his senior season. He was also a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District III First-Team selection. Forrester graduated magna cum laude in May of 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics. While teaching at Clemson University, he completed coursework toward a Master’s Degree in mathematical sciences. A Bluff City, Tennessee native, Forrester currently resides in Abingdon, Virginia.