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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.

Marissa Young
Assistant Coach

Marissa Young, a three-time All-America pitcher at the University of Michigan, is entering her second season as an assistant coach for the Carolina softball team.

Young, who was named the 2002 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and 2003 Big Ten Player of the Year, will primarily coach pitchers and catchers for the Tar Heels.

“Marissa has gained experience as a head coach at a small university and as an assistant at a Division I program" said Head Coach Donna Papa. "All of those experiences have prepared her to be in charge of developing our pitchers and catchers as well as many other areas of our program.”

Young spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons as an assistant at Eastern Michigan, where she served as the compliance liaison, recruiting coordinator and managed team travel and the operational budget, among other duties.  She helped coach five Academic All-Americas and five players of the week during her time at Eastern Michigan.

Prior to her stint at EMU, Young was the head coach at Concordia University (Ann Arbor, Mich.) from 2008-11. In less than three years with the program, she turned the 2-20 program to a 23-23 record, the second-most wins in a single season since an appearance in the 2002 NAIA National Tournament.

Young graduated from Michigan in 2003 as the all-time strikeout leader (927), and her 88 career wins became the second highest in program history. She also matched the then-program’s single-season home run record with 13 in 2003. Young also played two years of professional softball, one overseas in Italy and the second year with the Texas Thunder of the NPF.

A native of Santa Ana, Calif., Young has three children: Layla, Jolyna and Kayden.

Suzanne Tadlock
Volunteer Assistant Coach

Suzanne Tadlock returns for her third 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 for 15 years, as well as serving as the Carolina Summer Softball Camps Director for the past three years.

“Suzanne brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our program,” head coach Donna J. Papa said of Tadlock’s hiring. “Most recently, she was responsible for establishing a leadership program for the Leesville softball team. Additionally, she has worked with the NCAA YES softball clinics at the DI, II, III levels as a field director and clinician.”

In addition to Tadlock’s coaching duties at Leesville Road, she is a physical eduction teacher as well as the department chair. Before coming to Leesville Road, she was the physical education director and athletics director for the Raleigh, N.C., chapter of the Boys and Girls Club of America.

Tadlock has also helped with numerous NCAA and NYSC softball clinics throughout her career and has assisted with UNC softball camps since 2007.

Tadlock is a graduate of UNC Greensboro (1990), where she played softball for the Spartans. She received her teaching certificate in 1999 from East Carolina University.