MEDFORD – Cheryl Milligan, who directed the Tufts University softball team to three consecutive NCAA Championships from 2013-15, announced today that she will step down as head coach of the Jumbos.
Lauren Ebstein, currently the Associate Head Coach of Tufts Softball, has been promoted to interim head coach.
Under Milligan's leadership, Tufts became the first team in NCAA Division III Softball history to win three consecutive national championships. In 2015, Tufts finished 51-0 while capturing the national championship. Their 7-4 victory over the University of Texas-Tyler in the national final extended Tufts' NCAA Division III record winning streak to 53 games, dating back to the two wins which clinched the 2014 national title over Salisbury. The 2015 Tufts team tied the NCAA Div. III record for the most wins in a season.
The Jumbos played in five NCAA College World Series overall under Coach Milligan. She directed the team into the NCAA Finals in 2009 and 2012 as well. The 2012 team finished tied for fifth nationally and the 2009 squad was fourth. In addition to their perfect 51-0 season in 2015, Tufts also had remarkable records of 44-3 (.936) in 2009, 41-7 (.854) in 2012, 46-3 (.939) in 2013 and 47-4 (.922) in 2014. Tufts' 51-0 record is the best in NCAA history, while 2009, 2013 and 2014 all rank among the all-time top 20 for winning percentage.
"Cheryl's contributions to Tufts Athletics as a student-athlete, coach, leader, mentor and colleague are immeasurable," Director of Athletics John Morris said. "Her dedication to our student-athletes, and her commitment to achieving academic and athletic excellence in equal measure, have been unwavering during her 27 years as a Jumbo. Cheryl and her family will always be Jumbos, and we wish them all the best."
The 2013 Tufts squad was the first New England team to win the NCAA Softball Championship since Eastern Connecticut State University in 1990. Coach Milligan and her staff were recognized as the National Coaching Staff of the Year at the National Fast-pitch Coaches Association (NFCA) convention that year. They won that award for both the 2014 and 2015 seasons as well.
Tufts won four straight NCAA Regional/Super Regional championships (2012-15) and six overall during Milligan's tenure. They also earned four of the last six New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) crowns and 10 in total. Milligan was named NESCAC Coach of the Year four straight times and was an eight-time recipient overall. Her teams had a combined record of 459-138 for an outstanding .769 winning percentage. She is ranked ninth among both active coaches and all-time for winning percentage in Division III.
A 1995 Tufts graduate, Milligan was a four-year starter at shortstop and an assistant coach for six years at her alma mater. She was promoted to head coach of the Jumbos in July 2003. Milligan is stepping down to devote more time to her family. She is married to Jamie Pinzino, the pitching coach at Army. They have a five-year old son, Henry.
"It has been a true pleasure to be a part of the Tufts family for so long, and to have seen the success we have seen," Milligan said. "I will miss everything about Tufts, but it is time to put Henry first. I want to thank everyone for allowing me to stay with Tufts softball for as long as I did, even when it was hard to do so. It took a lot of vision and courage to enable us to do what we did how we did it, and that it happened is attributed to our players, our administrators and our families. I wish everyone at Tufts all the best. Whatever I do going forward will build on all that I have taken from my time at Tufts."
Ebstein is a 2007 graduate of Tufts who pitched for the Jumbos. She returned to the coaching staff in 2014 and has served as Associate Head Coach since 2015. She was a member of two NFCA Coaching Staffs of the Year when the Jumbos won championships in 2014 and 2015.
Prior to returning to Tufts, Ebstein spent one season at Valparaiso University, working with the pitchers and catchers during the Crusaders' 2013 Horizon League Championship. During two seasons at Colgate, Ebstein helped the Raiders win the conference regular-season title in 2011.
Ebstein was a four-year letter-winner for the Jumbos. The team won the NESCAC Championship in 2007 and appeared in three NCAA Regionals during her time wearing brown and blue. She was a captain her senior year.
After graduating, Ebstein was an assistant at Tufts for two seasons, including serving on staff in 2009 when the Jumbos finished in fourth place at the Division III College World Series.
Ebstein will take over a Tufts team that finished 32-10 last season and advanced to the NCAA Regional Championship game.