Georgia softball enters life after coach Lu Harris-Champer

Georgia softball coach Lu Harris-Champer walks away from her team after a pitching mound meeting during the Oklahoma game at the 2021 Women’s College World Series Saturday, June 5, 2021, at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla. (Tony Walsh/UGA Athletics)
Georgia softball coach Lu Harris-Champer walks away from her team after a pitching mound meeting during the Oklahoma game at the 2021 Women’s College World Series Saturday, June 5, 2021, at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla. (Tony Walsh/UGA Athletics)

Credit: UGA Athletics

Credit: UGA Athletics

ATHENS — Jenna, Emma and Mya.

If you’re looking for reasons for the sudden retirement of Georgia softball coach Lu Harris-Champer, her children represent the top three. The twins, Jenna and Emma, turn 17 years old in August. Mya turned 15 last month.

Husband Jerry Champer ranks pretty high up there, as well.

“At this time in my life I am thrilled to get to be a full-time mom to my three girls,” Harris-Champer told the AJC.

While Harris-Champer’s retirement seems reactionary, coming one day after the Bulldogs were ousted from the Women’s College World Series, it actually has been planned for a while. Harris-Champer turns 54 on June 16. Her husband is associate head coach of Georgia’s powerful swimming and diving program. So, Harris-Champer will remain around Athens and the UGA campus.

Harris-Champer is just the second coach in UGA softball history and led the Bulldogs to 959 victories over 21 seasons. Including stints at Nicholls State and Southern Miss, she concludes her 25-year career among the top-25 coaches of all time with 1,168 victories and seven College World Series appearances.

The question now is what happens next for Georgia softball. UGA says it intends to conduct a national search for a successor. However, expect associate head coach Tony Baldwin to get strong consideration. He was promoted to interim head coach following Harris-Champer’s announcement.

Georgia (34-23) shocked the college softball world by advancing to the College World Series this season with one of the SEC’s youngest teams that finished 11th in the conference. Every position player that started for the Bulldogs at the CWS this past week is set to return next season.

Georgia will be seeking a starting pitcher to replace Mary Wilson Avant, who accounted for 210 of the Bulldogs’ 382 innings thrown this past season.

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