The University of Rhode Island softball team has played 24 games in 2015. They have won just one of them.
It has been mentioned many times over the past couple years that head coach Erin Layton has not performed to expectation. However, after a 1-23 record to start the season and less than a month left to go, it is 100 percent certainly time to cut ties with Layton.
This argument will be kept strictly to the team’s performances and not the bullying allegations that have surrounded the program’s last two seasons. There is no reason why the university, or Layton for that matter, should want to re-up after the Rams face George Washington to close out the season on May 3.
While this year is probably the last on Layton’s current contract, if the Rams somehow go on a tear in the last 19 games and squeak into the playoffs as one of the top six teams in the Atlantic 10 Conference, she will have automatically earned another two years at the helm of this club through 2017. In her time at her current position, her teams have gone 85-242-2.
Continuing with the obvious, the Rams have not performed well under the guidance of Layton in recent memory. In her seventh season as head coach, Rhode Island has had little success, but almost none since the 2010 season where Layton guided URI to the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
Even with the postseason appearance, the Rams only went 19-35, though. They followed that with a 7-46 record in 2011, which improved to 21-32-1 in 2012 for URI’s first 20-win season since 2006. To put it simply, Erin Layton and her teams have not produced consistently. Layton’s up-and-down track record may bear some improvement in the near future, but it’s simply not enough for a program in desperate need of consistency.
This doesn’t mean the future is bleak, however. The Rams have plenty of talented players and remain a young group, featuring promising student-athletes like sophomores Jenna Cubello and Marylynn Muldowney. Also, Athletic Director Thorr Bjorn has been a miracle worker when it comes to both of this school’s basketball programs. Dan Hurley and Daynia La-Force, who coach the men’s and women’s teams, respectively, have made massive improvements in short periods of time. There is no reason a coaching change can’t begin a road to improvement for this team as well.
Basketball and softball are not comparable sports, but a big fish in a little pond may be exactly what this program needs. Finding an excelling coach from a smaller conference shouldn’t be too big an endeavor. Most great coaches start from the bottom, and a chance to move up could be what propels a manager from a tiny school to make the move to medium-sized Kingston.
The same was done for Layton after all. She formerly coached at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. At Marist she led her team to the championship game and earned back-to-back trips to the league championship tournament. Maybe she can recapture that magic with another program.