Photo courtesy of Leah Pemberton. Pemberton takes over as head coach for Bloomingdale softball after Mark Braddy retired in June.

Leah Pemberton was named the new head coach of the Bloomingdale High School softball team on July 24. There was an opening after Head Coach Mark Braddy retired in June after five seasons at the helm.

Pemberton had a very successful career as a player, playing infield for Bloomingdale from 2009-2012 and going on to play college softball for Florida Southern College from 2013-2017. She was one of the team captains for her senior season at Bloomingdale, hitting .301 with 22 hits, 14 runs scored and nine RBIs.

“It means so much to me just getting the opportunity to go back to Bloomingdale,” said Pemberton. “It changed my life as a player. I had some of the best times at Bloomingdale with all the girls on the team as well as the coaches, so being able to have the opportunity to go back and give these girls the same opportunity that I had in high school just means everything.”

Pemberton was an assistant coach for Braddy for the last two seasons. She was coached by him since she was about 10 and considers him one of her mentors.

“He has such passion for the game, as well as the girls, so just being able to not only have seen it as a player, but also being able to coach alongside him is definitely something I’ll take with me,” she said.

“She’s been preparing for this for a while,” said Braddy. “I remember her as a player, she was always the vocal player, the coach on the field during games or practice, helping others all the time. It’s a natural evolution for her, and I know she will do well.”

Pemberton wants her team to have love and passion for the game and to just leave it all out on the field. Expectations are high this season for a team that won its first district championship since 2004 last season. The Bulls have one of the best players in the state returning in senior catcher Kailey Harrigan, as well as UCF commit pitcher Maddie Droz.

The seniors of the team just met with their new coach for the first time to talk about goals and expectations and laying out a format and foundation of what they want to accomplish. The fall season begins at the end of August.

Pemberton’s former Bloomingdale teammate and daughter of Braddy, Marlie Braddy, will be an assistant coach again next season for the Bulls. Pemberton wants current and future players to leave a legacy for the program and know that Bloomingdale is home and they are always welcome back.

“I want them to leave Bloomingdale better than when they first got here,” she said. “I’m excited to be a Bull again and continue that tradition.”

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.