Chris Bellotto is now in her 34th season as the only head softball coach Florida Southern has ever had. She’s been at the college in one capacity or another for a total of 38 years, a career that began as a player/coach for the Moccasin club softball team in 1978. She was later hired as head coach when the program was given full intercollegiate status as a slow-pitch team in 1982, and led them through the transition to fast-pitch in 1985.
Entering the 2015 season, Bellotto owns a career record of 1,231-448, which includes an 80-34 mark in three slow-pitch seasons from 1982-84. Since then, Bellotto and the Moccasins have gone 1,151-414 in fast-pitch competition, a win total that puts her among the all-time leaders in every coaching category in the NCAA record book while establishing Florida Southern as one of the country’s premier Division II softball programs. She’s one of 27 coaches in any division with 1,000 wins, and one of only 14 who are still active. She begins 2015 tied for 12th place on the all-divisions fast-pitch coaching list, and tied for second in Division II, officially 68 behind retired Bloomsburg coach Jan Hutchinson. Belloto’s .735 career winning percentage also ranks 12th in Division II.
Those are just some of the many accomplishments that earned Bellotto the highest individual honor a college softball coach can achieve when she was inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame on December 10, 2010. She is one of only 12 coaches who have spent their entire career at the D-II level to earn induction.
During her 33-year tenure, the Moccasins have had just two losing seasons, while winning 30 or more games 24 times. They also have 17 seasons with 40 or more wins, three seasons with at least 50, and have averaged nearly 40 wins per year since 1987. They set a school record with 55 wins in both 2004 and 2006.
With Bellotto guiding the team since its inception, Florida Southern has won more conference titles than any other Division II program, and the Moccasins have made 20 trips to the NCAA Tournament. All of those postseason bids have come since 1987, and the Mocs have won more postseason games and regional titles than all but one other current D-II school. During her time at Florida Southern, Bellotto and the Moccasins have made three appearances in the national championship game, most recently in 2004, and are one of only two schools at any level to play in a national title game in each of the first three decades the NCAA has held a softball championship.
Overall, Bellotto has won 24 conference titles (combining slow-pitch and fast-pitch), eight regional titles and one National Championship. That national title came in 1993 when Florida Southern went 45-11, came out of the loser’s bracket with back-to-back shutouts after dropping its first game at the National Tournament, and closed things out with an 11-5 victory over Augustana (SD) that gave the school its first national championship in women’s athletics. Those 11 runs are still a Division II championship game record.
Florida Southern’s 20 NCAA tournament appearances under Bellotto rank sixth on the list of Division II softball programs, and with over 100 NCAA postseason games to her credit, Bellotto has also led the Mocs to 64 playoff wins, a number surpassed by only former Bloomsburg coach Jan Hutchinson with 84. In their 20 trips to the NCAA playoffs, the Mocs have advanced at least as far as the region final 15 times, and only once have they been eliminated in two games.FULL BIO - click here
Now in her fifth year as assistant coach at Florida Southern is former Moccasin outfielder Michelle (Tatlock) Lovell. The 2015 season will be her seventh overall as a college coach, which includes two years at another NCAA Division II program, Hillsdale College in Michigan.
A 2008 graduate of Florida Southern, Tatlock originally joined the Moccasins as a second baseman out of Osceola High School in Seminole, Florida. As a freshman, she broke into the starting lineup for a team that had returned almost completely intact from a national runner-up finish the previous season. She ended up starting every game as the Moccasins again won the Sunshine State Conference and advanced to the NCAA South Region Tournament semifinals. Tatlock hit .273 overall that year (including .301 over the final three months of the season), with three home runs, and her 30 RBI ranked second in the SSC among freshmen.
As a sophomore in 2006, Tatlock moved to the outfield full-time and again started every game for a team that finished third at the NCAA Division II National Tournament. Tatlock was a major part of that by picking up where she left off late in her freshman year, hitting .311 with two home runs, 38 RBI and 11 stolen bases. Her RBI total was good for third in the SSC among outfielders and ranked eighth overall. She was also second in the SSC that year with seven triples.
After hitting .298 as a junior when the Moccasins again won the South Region title and advanced to the national tournament, Tatlock finished her playing days at Florida Southern with a career-best .331 average as a senior in 2008. She also led the team and was third in the conference with 18 stolen bases (getting caught only once), and was second on the team with 49 hits and 30 runs scored. She hit .338 in the Mocs’ 20 games against teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament, the best average on the team.
Tatlock’s 4-year numbers at Florida Southern include a .304 batting average, 190 hits, 133 runs scored, seven home runs and 109 RBI in 214 career games. When she graduated, Tatlock was tied for fourth in team history with 18 triples and was 40-for-45 on stolen base attempts. Though she spent the majority of her career in the outfield, she also saw time as a pitcher for the Moccasins in 2007.
While Tatlock had an impressive playing career at Florida Southern, her accomplishments in the postseason were even more noteworthy. Her .323 lifetime batting average in the NCAA playoffs ranks fifth in team history and her 13 RBI ranks third. As a sophomore in 2006, she was named to the All-South Region Tournament Team after going five-for-13 with a team-high seven RBI; she then drove in the winning run with a 2-out single in the 11th inning to beat Emporia State 1-0 in the second round of the national tournament. The following year in 2007, she was Florida Southern’s leading hitter in the NCAA playoffs with a .381 batting average, and went four-for-10 with a home run and two RBI in the national tournament.
After graduating in the spring of 2008 with a degree in finance, Tatlock continued her playing career that summer in National Pro Fastpitch with the Philadelphia Force. She then joined the coaching staff at Hillsdale College under head coach Jamie Meyers, a position she held until the summer of 2010 when she returned to Florida Southern.
Al Bellotto, who is the younger brother of head coach Chris Bellotto, has been a member of the Florida Southern coaching staff for 24 years covering two different periods. He’s helped the Moccasins make 16 trips to NCAA postseason play, and win more than 850 games. During his career, he’s also helped the Moccasins capture 15 Sunshine State Conference championships and five South Region titles. The most recent regional championship for Bellotto came in 2007, when the Moccasins went 51-15, and finished fourth at the Division II National Tournament. Those accomplishments made him part of the 2007 NFCA South Region Coaching Staff-of-the-Year.
Bellotto was also a member of the 1993 national championship team and much of the Mocs’ success at the plate that year was attributed to his work with the hitters. The Moccasins hit .371 that year, a school record at the time, which included a .333 average in the national tournament. Two years later, the Mocs set another team record when they hit .376, a mark still stands in the Florida Southern record book.
Since returning to the staff in 2007, Bellotto has seen Florida Southern finish with at least two of the top 10 individual hitters in the Sunshine State Conference in all but two seasons, and two different players have hit well over .400 during that time. The 2009 Moccasins set a school record for home runs, the same year Bellotto was credited with the mid-season turn-around of centerfielder Dani Blake, who the Mocs switched from a right-handed hitter to a left-handed slapper in March. Hitting just .122 at the time of the switch, Blake hit .319 afterwards, and .340 over the final 20 games. She was one of three Florida Southern players to hit over .350 in 2011, earning her a spot on the All-SSC Team.
Blake hasn’t been the only Moccasin hitter in recent years to benefit from Bellotto’s coaching experience. In 2012, Karlyn Scott completed a similar transformation from right-handed to left-handed hitter, finished sixth in the SSC with a .358 batting average, and was both a First Team All-SSC and Academic All-American selection. In the early-to-mid- 1990’s, Traci Wood underwent the same type of turn-around and developed into one of the best players to ever wear a Florida Southern uniform as a 2-time All-American.
A former member of the Florida Southern baseball team, Bellotto was an outfielder and catcher for the Moccasins, and prior to that was an All-State selection as an outfielder at Lakeland High School. Bellotto was also an All-State quarterback for the Dreadnaughts, one of the top high school football programs in the country.
Former Florida Southern softball player Chrissy Teresi is in her seventh season as an assistant coach with the Moccasins, covering two different time periods. She works primarily with the infielders and hitters. In her two seasons as a second baseman for the Moccasins (1991 and 1992), Teresi was twice named First Team All-American, First Team All-South Region, and First Team All-Sunshine State Conference. Those accolades helped her earn induction into the Florida Southern Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.
Teresi originally came to Florida Southern in 1990 as a junior college transfer from Santa Fe Community College. In her two seasons with the Moccasins she hit .385, with 27 doubles, four triples, three home runs and 49 RBI. She struck out just 13 times in 299 career at-bats, one of the best ratios in team history. Her career fielding percentage of .954 also ranks among the best all-time at Florida Southern among middle infielders.
During the 1991-92 seasons, Teresi helped Florida Southern win two Sunshine State Conference championships and finish as the NCAA South Region runner-up each year. Her senior season was her best at Florida Southern, as she hit .405 with 16 doubles, three triples, two home runs and 29 RBI. She was also the Mocs’ leading hitter in the postseason that year, going 7-for-14 with three RBI.
After her playing career, Teresi served as the head coach at Lake Gibson High School in Lakeland from 1993-97, before returning to Florida Southern as an assistant coach in 1998. She spent the next five years with the Moccasins, helping them win three more conference titles during that time.
In the spring of 2009, Teresi achieved the highest honor a Florida Southern student-athlete can earn when she was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame.