From Players to Coaches: Alyssa DiCarlo, Chelsea Wilkinson Return to help Georgia softball

Georgia softball
Alyssa DiCarlo and Lacey Fincher during a 2019 game in the batter's circle. (Photo by Kristin M. Bradshaw)
Kristin M. Bradshaw

Watching the University of Georgia softball players huddle around Kylie Macy after she threw a perfect game in February gave Macy’s pitching coach, Chelsea Wilkinson, a familiar sense of excitement.

This was Georgia’s first perfect game in over five years, with the last one thrown by Wilkinson. Inked in history, Macy and her coach hold two of the Bulldogs’ all-time 11 perfect games.

Alyssa DiCarlo, one of the best hitters in Georgia history, also has returned to Athens this year as a volunteer assistant coach. Nationally, the Bulldogs rank seventh in home runs per game and 13th in batting average.

With Bulldog legends returning, legendary things could happen.

The Bulldogs, trying to make it to the College World Series for a second straight year, open play at the Southeastern Conference tournament against Ole Miss on Wednesday.

Georgia assistant coaches Chelsea Wilkinson and Alyssa DiCarlo during a game against North Carolina at Jack Turner Softball Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)
Mackenzie Miles, UGA Sports Communication

“I think their investment in the players, the girls feel that,” UGA head coach Tony Baldwin said of DiCarlo and Wilkinson. “They feel confident. And that’s what gives them an opportunity to go out there and perform.”

Neither DiCarlo nor Wilkinson won a national title while at UGA. The Bulldogs, ranked in the top 20 nationally, might have a chance if they can shake off the series losses to Auburn and Ole Miss that closed out their regular season.

“Winning the national championship would have been really cool. And that’s something that I want my players to be able to do that I wasn’t able to do as a player,” Wilkinson said.

DiCarlo played for UGA from 2016-19. She was a two-time All-American and a two-time top 25 finalist for USA Softball Player of the Year. Hitting 68 career home runs, she ranks second all-time in the SEC.

“She was a phenomenal teammate. She was a phenomenal leader,” said current UGA senior Lacey Fincher, who was a freshman during DiCarlo’s last season as a player. “She was a phenomenal role model to all of us.”

Alyssa DiCarlo and Lacey Fincher during a 2019 game in the batter's circle. (Photo by Kristin M. Bradshaw)
Kristin M. Bradshaw, UGA Sports Communication

Fincher is tied with Sara Mosley at 16 home runs for the Bulldogs this season, bringing explosive power like DiCarlo.

After graduating school and returning home, DiCarlo felt “weird” for no longer having softball on her schedule. So when Baldwin was named the new head coach, DiCarlo reached out

Baldwin said having her join his staff “was a no-brainer.”

Wilkinson, who played for UGA from 2013-16, was an All-American in 2014 and four-time All-SEC player. Leading the Bulldogs to their only SEC title in 2014, Wilkinson was named the MVP.

The decision to hire her as pitching coach, Baldwin said, came at 4 o’clock in the morning.

“I woke up and said, ‘I’m hiring Chelsea today.’”

As coaches, Wilkinson and DiCarlo bring an insight that many players value: familiarity.

“It’s tough pitching day in and day out against these hitters,” Wilkinson said.”Something that I’m able to bring to the table is being relatable.”

For practice, Wilkinson brings the seven pitchers into the bullpen at different times, providing one-on-one coaching.

“She’s not going to tell you right away what she sees,” Macy said. “She wants you to feel it yourself.”

Wilkinson said she tries to create a learning environment for the pitching staff. Macy began learning from Wilkinson at a young age.

“I saw her when I was 13, I think on the TV when she was playing here, throwing a rise ball and she put a thumb on it,” Macy said.

This was a revelation for Macy early in her pitching career, and it made her all the more excited once it was announced that Wilkinson was returning to coach.

To foster Georgia’s explosive hitting in games, DiCarlo helps the team constantly hit. They work with pitching machines resembling upcoming opponents in their indoor training facility.

Similar to Wilkinson, “She watches you do your thing,” Fincher said of DiCarlo. “And then after, she gives you tips of what you need to do, which is one of the best ways I could get coached.”

Taking it all in as former players turned coaches, DiCarlo and Wilkinson are happy to help Georgia softball succeed.

“Coaching is a people’s business,” Baldwin said. “So you have to be able to communicate and relate to people to be a good coach. And that’s the place where I’ve been really proud of them.”

Lauren Smith is a student in UGA’s Carmical Sports Media Institute.

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