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Univ. of North Carolina - Softball
Univ. of North Carolina - Softball

Coaching Staff


Mary Jo Firnbach
Associate Head Coach

Mary Jo Firnbach joined the UNC softball program as associate head coach in August 2014.

Firnbach comes to UNC after spending eight seasons as the associate head coach at Texas A&M. During her tenure in College Station, the Aggies made eight NCAA tournament appearances, including two trips to the Women's College World Series and four NCAA Super Regional appearances. In 2008, Texas A&M advanced to the 2008 national championship game.

Before Texas A&M, Firnbach served as head coach of the Syracuse University softball team for seven seasons, where she led the Orange to a school record for victories (36) and its third appearance in the Big East championship, earning Coaching Staff of the Year honors in 2005. She has also held assistant coaching positions at Illinois State and the University of Michigan.

"I am excited to welcome Mary Jo to our Carolina Softball family," said Papa. "MJ has a wealth of experience in many areas of the game. She has been to the women's College World Series three times as an assistant with two outstanding programs in Texas A&M and Michigan. She also started the program and was the head coach at Syracuse for seven years.

"MJ's knowledge of the game and her ability to teach will help strengthen our program and help us continue to build a championship culture and mentality within our program. She will assist with many aspects of our offense and defense with the primary focus on developing our hitters and infielders.

"I believe she is a great fit for our program. MJ appreciates the culture of pride, passion, and excellence that we have embraced within our program and will be able to relate that to our players. I am looking forward to having her on our staff here at North Carolina."

Firnbach graduated from Southern Illinois University in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in community health relations and later returned for her masters in sports psychology. She is a member of the Southern Illinois University Athletics Hall of Fame.

While at Southern Illinois, Firnbach was named team captain in 1991, a season in which the Salukis went 42-7 and were the Gateway Conference regular season and tournament champions. She was a two-time Gateway All-Conference first-team selection and an All-Midwest second-team selection.

On the professional level, Firnbach played the 1991 season for the Raybestos Brakettes in Stratford, Conn. The Brakettes won the national championship and the gold medal at the Olympic Sports Festival. She also played with the Michigan Cruise in Ann Arbor, Mich., finishing fifth at the national tournament in 1994.

Firnbach entered the coaching profession immediately following graduation, serving as a volunteer assistant coach for two seasons at her alma mater, while completing her master's degree. She served as an assistant coach at Michigan from 1993-95 where she helped lead the Wolverines to a Big Ten Conference regular season and tournament championships, the National Invitational Tournament title and to an appearance in the College World Series.

Firnbach then served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Illinois State for three years. The Redbirds won the Missouri Valley Conference title in 1996 and 1997 before Firnbach was named the head coach of the Orange in 1998.

Chelsey Barclay
Assistant Coach / Pitching

Chelsey Barclay joined the North Carolina softball progam as the Tar Heels' pitching coach in 2015.

Barclay comes to Carolina after two seasons as the pitching coach at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo where she developed some of the top pitchers in school history.

“I am excited to welcome Chelsey to our coaching staff and our Carolina Softball family,” said Papa.  “Her passion and excitement for the game are evident. She has had successful coaching and playing experiences throughout her career, including the opportunity to compete at the NCAA tournament as a player and a coach.  Her pitching staffs have finished in the top three of their conferences and in 2014 she coached the Big West Conference pitcher of the year.  I am confident she will challenge our players to rise to the next level and enhance the culture of our team, on and off the field. She is a great addition and fit for our program.”

During her first season with the Mustangs, Cal Poly's 2014 rotation led the Big West Conference and ranked 27th among more than 300 NCAA Division I programs with a 2.13 ERA. The Mustang rotation also led the Big West in strikeouts (311 and 5.92 per game) and fewest home runs (23) and earned runs (113) allowed.

Under Barclay, Mustang righthander Sierra Hyland was named 2014 Big West Pitcher of the Year after finishing 13th nationally in strikeouts (263) and 15th in victories (26).

Barclay served as an assistant and pitching coach at Marshall from 2011-13. She capped her tenure in Huntington, West Virginia, by helping the Thundering Herd to a 36-22 overall mark, the program's first Conference USA championship and an appearance in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

Marshall's 2013 pitching staff ranked 34th among NCAA Division I programs with a 2.25 ERA. During each of Barclay's final two seasons with Marshall, the Herd pitching staff finished among the top-three Conference USA programs in ERA, strikeouts and opposing batting average.

Prior to her time at Marshall, Barclay served as the graduate assistant pitching coach at Louisiana-Monroe for the 2010 season.

A native of San Jose, Calif., Barclay earned Horizon League All-Newcomer team praise during her 2004 freshman season at Illinois-Chicago, in addition to helping the Flames to the NCAA Tournament.

After transferring to West Valley College (Saratoga, Calif.), Barclay was named NorCal Pitcher of the Year after winning 22 times and compiling a 0.54 ERA. She continued her collegiate career at Oklahoma State (2006-07) before graduating with degree in elementary education.

Suzanne Tadlock
Volunteer Assistant Coach

Suzanne Tadlock returns for her fourth year as the volunteer assistant for Carolina softball.

Tadlock joined the Tar Heels for the 2013 season after coaching high school softball at Leesville Road High School for 15 years, as well as serving as the Donna J Papa Softball Camp Director for the past four years.

“Suzanne brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our program,” head coach Donna J. Papa said of Tadlock’s hiring.  She coached at Leesville Road High School, for 15 years, and built a program and culture respected by many. She started a softball leadership academy when she worked there, she has coached at the travel ball level and she has worked with the NCAA YES softball clinics at the DI, II, III levels as a field director and clinician.” Suzanne works with the hitters and infielders and serves as our Summer Camp Director.

In addition to her volunteer coaching duties, she is also the Physical Education and Health teacher at Durham Performance Learning Center.

Tadlock is a graduate of UNC Greensboro (1990), where she played softball for the Spartans.