Former Three-Time All-American Paculba Joins Softball Staff
CHARLESTON, S.C. – A former three-time All-American at the University of Florida, Aja Paculba (pronounced Asia Puh-COOL-buh) joins the College of Charleston softball program as an assistant coach.
“We had many good candidates, but Aja Paculba stood out because of her exceptional championship experience,” CofC Head Coach Linda Kalafatis said. “Aja had an outstanding NCAA playing career as a second baseman at Florida, but now she is focused on having an outstanding coaching career and we are happy to have her here in Charleston.
“She, along with Coach (Barb) Sherwood, will be able to provide our softball student-athletes, not only with excellent role models, but also with excellent skill development. She will work primarily with our infielders and hitters and Coach Sherwood will oversee our pitchers and catchers. I am excited to get on the field with our 2017 team and my new coaching staff.”
Paculba previously served as an assistant coach for three seasons at Western Kentucky from 2013-16. There, the Lady Toppers won Conference USA regular-season and tournament titles during the 2015 season and produced nine all-conference selections. Paculba also worked with three NFCA All-Mideast Region Team honorees, while a member of the 2015 NFCA Co-Mideast Region Coaching Staff of the Year.
With Paculba’s assistance, the 2015 squad at WKU earned a NCAA Regional berth after taking C-USA by storm in the program’s inaugural season in the league with a 36-14 overall record and 16-5 conference mark. The Lady Toppers would go on to defeat three nationally-ranked opponents in No. 19 Nebraska, No. 16 Georgia and No. 14 and Women’s College World Series participant Tennessee. The win over the Bulldogs set the record for the longest game in program history as WKU defeated UGA in walk-off fashion (14 innings) and a NCAA Regional victory.
Larissa Franklin and Miranda Kramer were named to the All-Conference USA First Team, while Dani Pugh was selected to the second team. Franklin and Kramer also earned NFCA All-Region honors, while Kramer became WKU’s first-ever All-American. Carleigh Chaumont garnered C-USA All-Freshman accolades to go with her and Kathryn Downing being selected to the C-USA All-Tournament Team. Kramer was named tournament MVP after the program’s C-USA Championship run.
In 2014, WKU compiled a record of 33-24-1, while finishing fourth in the Sun Belt Conference with an 11-10 mark in Paculba’s first season as an assistant coach. The Lady Toppers played a tough slate securing wins over SEC foes Ole Miss and No. 2-ranked Tennessee. The win over the Lady Vols in Knoxville not only was the highest-ranked opponent ever defeated by WKU, but also broke Tennessee’s 121-game winning streak of regular-season and non-conference home games.
At season’s end, five Lady Toppers were named to the All-Sun Belt Conference team with first-team selections Preslie Cruce, Kelsie Mattox and Olivia Watkins. Emily Rousseau and Amanda Thomas were named to the second team.
Paculba brings a wealth of experience to Charleston after an impressive collegiate career with the Gators, as she played and started in all 271 games during her time in Gainesville. Paculba played on the biggest stage of college softball with four Women’s College World Series appearances – finishing runner-up twice. She also led Florida to two SEC regular-season and tournament championship titles.
The former second baseman was the first freshman to earn All-America honors in school history and was a three-time selection to the NFCA and Easton All-America Teams. Chosen to the All-SEC and NFCA All-Southeast Region team all four years, she was also named to the SEC All-Defensive Team three years. Paculba remains Florida’s all-time career leader in hits (279), at bats (821), runs scored (253) and walks (160). She also ranks in the Top 10 all-time in 10 other career statistical categories.
“I want to thank Coach Kalafatis for giving me the opportunity to continue to grow and develop as a coach under her direction,” Paculba said. “I look forward to helping contribute to and build on the success already established by her at CofC. I am extremely excited to meet the team and get started.”
After college, she continued playing softball in the National Pro Fastpitch organization being selected No. 17 overall by the Diamonds in the 2011 draft. The 2012 and 2013 seasons saw Paculba with the Akron Racers, as the shortstop totaled 40 hits, 19 runs, 24 RBI and six doubles over two seasons.
Paculba began her coaching career worked as a volunteer assistant at Florida International University in 2012, where she worked with the Panthers’ outfielders. She helped FIU to a third-place finish in the Sun Belt Conference and outfielder Ashley McClain to All-SBC First-Team honors.
Originally from Wildomar, Calif., Paculba graduated from Florida in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in family, youth and community sciences. She was recruited to play for the Gators out of Elsinore High School.