SIU head coach Kerri Blaylock (center) talks with pitcher Brianna Jones (22) and catcher Katelyn Massa (99) during in the second inning against Drake in the first game of a doubleheader at Charlotte West Stadium on Saturday afternoon in Carbondale.

CARBONDALE — SIU and softball coach Kerri Blaylock have agreed to a contract extension that will keep her at the helm of the program through at least the 2023 season, athletic director Jerry Kill announced Wednesday.

"Kerri has led our program for a long time and she's won," Kill said. "Not only has she won, but she has done it the right way. Her kids play hard and they work just as hard in the classroom. She is from Southern Illinois and she has stayed here. If there is anyone deserving of a contract extension, it is Kerri Blaylock."

Blaylock, now in her 21st season as the Salukis' head coach, is the winningest coach in program history with a career record of 693-383-1. She is seven wins shy of becoming the third coach in Missouri Valley Conference softball history to reach the 700-win plateau and 46 wins shy of passing Itchy Jones for the most wins by a head coach – male or female – in SIU's illustrious history.

"I am so thankful for Jerry Kill, (senior woman administrator) Liz Jarnigan and (associate AD) Jeff Jones," Blaylock said. "They have a vision of where they want Saluki Athletics to go. I have been here a long time and they have embraced our program and what we have accomplished. I would not have this extension if it was not for (associate head coach) Jen Sewell and (assistant coach) Kenzi Tate. They do incredible work on the field with our kids, day in and day out. I really consider this to be an extension for the whole coaching staff. I'm thankful to be around longer and to be able to go out recruiting knowing that I will be the head coach here for a while."

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Under Blaylock, the Salukis have made seven NCAA tournament appearances and have won at least 30 games in 17 of her 20 seasons at the helm. From 2003-2007, the Salukis made five-straight NCAA tournament appearances and remain the only program in MVC history to reach five-consecutive NCAA tournaments.

The Herrin native has earned five MVC Coaching Staff of the Year honors and is the fastest coach in MVC history to reach 500 career wins.

The Salukis have received 90 All-MVC honors under Blaylock, including 46 first-team nods and have earned 31 All-Region accolades. In the classroom, SIU has had 14 Academic All-Americans during Blaylock's tenure and have finished in the top-10% of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's Team GPA rankings in all 18 seasons in which the NFCA has compiled the rankings. SIU has twice finished as high as No. 2 nationally in team GPA and have ranked in the Top-10 in 13 of the 18 seasons.

The Salukis informally kick off their 52nd season of intercollegiate play with a Sunday doubleheader at Charlotte West Stadium. It is the first of four-straight weekends in which Southern will host a doubleheader as part of its fall slate.

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