Kayla Noonan has been Columbia’s head softball coach since 2003 and over the past decade she has helped the team establish its identity as a fundamentally-sound, tight-knit program that is committed to the hard work necessary to succeed on the field, in the classroom and in the community.
The Lions are coming off one of their finest seasons in recent memory, posting 22 wins overall and eight more in Ivy League play, the most for the program since 2007. Columbia saw several players have breakout season, highlighted by the play of sophomore Alix Cook and first-year pitcher Emily Kenyon. Cook boasted a .363 batting average, the second highest single-season mark in school history, and was the fifth toughest batter to strike out. Kenyon burst onto the scene, striking out 146 batters which is the most for any Lion rookie and the third highest single-season mark.
In 2012, the Lions featured three All-Ivy League selections, including first team honoree and sophomore Tristin Moone, who batted .298 with four home runs and 10 RBI.
Noonan’s 2011 Columbia squad featured a potent pitching staff that ranked second in the Ivy League in ERA (3.01) and opposing batting average (.254) and third in strikeouts (200). Five Lions earned all-conference honors, including Maggie Johnson ’11CC, who was named first team All-Ivy League as a utility player. Johnson was a double threat for Columbia, leading the Lions with a 2.68 ERA and hitting a team-high six home runs.
In 2010, Noonan mentored three All-Ivy League honorees, including first-team catcher Kayla Lechler '11CC. Lechler established a new single-season batting average record of .368 and helped the Lions set a record for team batting average in a season (.287). Columbia's offense also set new program marks in slugging percentage, runs, hits, home runs, RBIs, total bases and walks in a year.
Noonan has coached and recruited nearly all of Columbia’s school record-holders, including 2009 graduate Keli Leong. Leong finished her career at the top of five offensive categories, including batting average (.339), hits (215), runs scored (95) and total bases (259).
Another Noonan recruit and 2007 graduate Kacy Krisman closed her career as the program’s all-time leader in RBI, runs scored, stolen bases and triples. Maiya Chard-Yaron, a member of Noonan’s first recruiting class and a 2006 graduate, left Columbia as the all-time leader in runs scored after setting the then-single-season record for hits (57) in 2006.
Since Noonan has been at Columbia, her teams posted five straight 20-win seasons from 2003-07. Noonan has coached and recruited the 2003 Ivy League Pitcher of the Year in Jackie Adelfio and has guided 37 All-Ivy League selections, including nine first team honorees. In 2002, the team reached the ECAC Championship game against Harvard and posted its best overall record in its three-year history with 27 wins and 23 losses. In 2001, the Lions were 26-25 and placed third in the ECAC Championships.
Noonan joined the Columbia staff in the fall of 2001 after one year as an assistant coach at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. She spent four years as a catcher for Hofstra University’s nationally-ranked team. Noonan was the team’s MVP in 1998 and an academic all-conference selection. She also earned the Hofstra Scholar-Athlete Award and graduated in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in humanities/literature.
Born in Bay City, Mich., Noonan grew up in nearby Essexville. She played softball and basketball at All Saints Central High in Bay City. In addition to her coaching duties at Columbia, she is working toward a master’s degree in American studies.