Assistant Al Brauns enters his 15th year on the Tech softball staff and his fourth as the associate head coach. His responsibilities include working primarily with the outfielders, as well as helping with the slap hitters, and he has been an integral part of the staff that has earned three NFCA Northeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year honors.
A favorite among current and past players, Brauns is also in charge of field maintenance, travel, equipment and has a heavy hand in recruiting. Virginia Tech’s summer softball camps, which have seen a huge spike in attendance over the past few years, is also run by the long-time assistant coach.
Brauns is a familiar face in Hokie sports, holding a position with the Virginia Tech athletics department for three years prior to joining the softball staff. Under his direction, numerous players have earned all-state, all-conference and all-region honors. Bronwyn Blair, a four-year starter in centerfield, was drafted by the Tampa Bay FireStix of the WPSL in 2001. In 2006, he coached Kelly Brown to her third All-Northeast Region squad and freshman Jessica Everhart to All-ACC and all-region honors. Last year, smooth-fielding Lauren Gaskill earned first-team all-region honors and was the state’s rookie of the year for her play at the plate and in centerfield, where she committed just one error all season for a defense that posted the highest fielding percentage in school history.
In 2009, Jenna Rhodes was sixth in the country in batting average and the outfielder went on to earn third-team All-America honors, first-team All-ACC accolades and signed with the Rockford Thunder of the NPF. Everhart also had a standout year, batting .344 while earning all-region and second-team All-ACC honors.
In 2007, he showed his versatility by taking over the infielders early on before returning to his outfielders late in the season. As a team, the Hokies had a fielding percentage of .966 with one of the fewest error totals in program history. Brauns also serves as the first-base coach and is the right-hand man of head coach Scot Thomas. In 2010, he was rewarded for his loyalty and work by being named the associate head coach as the top assistant on the staff.
A tireless worker on the recruiting trail, he played a big role in identifying current and past Hokies like Charisse Mariconda and Gaskill early on in the process as players who could make an impact on the Virginia Tech program.
Brauns, a Vietnam War veteran, started playing fastpitch in the 1960s and finished his career playing with a men’s major team from 1970-74.
Originally from Uniontown, Pa., Brauns graduated from Penn State in 1973 with a degree in criminology. Brauns and his wife of 26 years, Michelle, have one child, Adam, who is 20 years old and a junior at Tech. He also has two other sons, Eric, 44, and Jason, 38. He has two grandchildren, Alaina and Allison.