Temple College

Temple College softball head coach Kristen Zaleski speaks with her team after a run-rule victory, 9-1, against Northeast Texas at the TC softball field on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. Michael Miller/Telegram

For nearly a decade, head coach Kristen Zaleski built the Temple College softball program into one of the most consistently competitive junior college teams in the country.

Now, it’s on to the Division I stage.

After leading the Lady Leopards to four NJCAA Division I softball national tournament appearances and the program’s lone national championship in 2018, Zaleski was hired to be the next head coach at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The move was announced Thursday by Islanders athletic director Jon Palumbo.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kristen Zaleski as our next head softball coach,” Palumbo said in a news release. “She is a proven winner as a head coach and has demonstrated the ability to connect with and develop her student-athletes on and off the field.”

The Islanders went 8-43 overall last season, including a 3-23 mark in conference play.

Zaleski, a Temple High grad, spent nine seasons at the helm of TC, accumulating a 413-127 overall record while leading the Lady Leopards. Temple went 49-11 this past season and was knocked out of the national tournament by top-seeded Seminole State (Okla.), ending the Lady Leopards’ hopes of consecutive national titles.

TC won five Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference titles during Zaleski’s tenure and compiled a 237-47 record within conference play. Zaleski was named the Region V North co-coach of the year in 2018 and 2019.

Zaleski returns to the Southland Conference after competing within the league as a player from 2001-04. She graduated in 2004 from then-Southland Conference member Texas State, where she earned NFCA All-America, CoSIDA Academic All-America and All-Southland honors. Zaleski was named the conference’s player of the year and hitter of the year in 2003 and 2004. She also played professionally in the National Pro Fastpitch League for five seasons.