COLUMBIA, MO -- LSU head softball coach Yvette Girouard and assistants James DeFeo and Lori Osterberg have been selected Speedline/NFCA Division I National Coaching Staff of the Year for 2001.

In her first season at LSU, Girouard and her staff guided the Tigers (59-11) to their first ever WCWS appearance, where they tied with Stanford for third place. LSU won the SEC regular season and postseason tournament championships and was 4-0 in the Baton Rouge Regional. Girouard came to LSU after a 20-year, 759-win stint at Louisiana-Lafayette and posted her 800th career win midway through the season.

Girouard, DeFeo and Osterberg were first selected by NFCA member head coaches as South Region Coaching Staff of the Year and then placed on the national ballot with eight other Division I coaching staffs. They will be recognized at the 2001 NFCA National Convention in Scottsdale, Arizona, in December.

Other Speedline top regional staffs, as selected by NFCA member head coaches nationwide, are:

Great Lakes Region - Michigan (43-17-1)

Carol Hutchins, Head Coach; Bonnie Tholl and Jennifer Brundage, Assistants.

Hutchins, Tholl and Brundage led the Wolverines to their first Women's College Series appearance since 1998 and their fifth overall. After winning the Big Ten regular season championship and finishing second in the conference postseason tournament, Michigan upset No. 1 seed Alabama in the finals of the Tuscaloosa Regional to advance to Oklahoma City. Hutchins earned her 700th career win and coached in her 1000th career game during the season.


West Region - Pacific (50-13)

Brian Kolze, Head Coach; Heather Tarr, Assistant.

Kolze and Tarr coached the Tigers to a new school single season win record and a spot in the Stanford Regional, where they upset No. 2 seed Nebraska in an elimination game before forcing No. 1 Stanford to a second championship game for the trip to the WCWS. Kolze was the Big West Coach of the Year as Pacific finished second in the Big West regular season standings and boasted the highest overall winning percentage (.794) of any Big West team.

Midwest Region - Oklahoma (51-9)

Patty Gasso, Head Coach; Melyssa Lombardi and Tim Walton, Assistants

Gasso, Lombardi and Walton led the Sooners to their second consecutive WCWS appearance after sweeping four games in the Norman, Oklahoma, Regional. OU also won the Big 12 postseason tournament following a second-place conference finish during the regular season. Gasso has taken the Sooners to NCAA regional competition every year since taking over the head coaching job seven years ago.

Mideast Region - Notre Dame (54-7)

Liz Miller, Head Coach; Deanna Gumpf, Traci Conrad and John Gumpf, Assistants

Miller, Conrad and the Gumpfs led the Irish to the BIG EAST regular season championship and MIller was BIG EAST Coach of the Year. Notre Dame finished second in the Iowa City Regional. Miller, who racked up career win No. 900 during the season, announced her retirement on June 12.

Southeast Region - Florida State (58-12)

JoAnne Graf, Head Coach; Louie Berndt and Heather Compton, Assistants

Graf, Berndt and Compton steered the Seminoles to their eighth consecutive ACC regular season championship and a second-place finish in the ACC postseason tournament. FSU finished second to California in the Tallahassee Regional, as the Golden Bears scored the tying and winning runs with two out in the seventh inning. Graf has posted 894 wins since FSU's program converted to fastpitch in 1984.

Mid-Atlantic Region - Lehigh (39-5)

Fran Troyan, Head Coach; Tara McGoff, Assistant

Troyan and McGoff led Lehigh to a 39-5 overall record and the Patriot League regular season (18-2) and postseason tournament championships, coming from the loser's bracket following a first-round defeat to win the latter. Troyan, who has posted 166 wins in six seasons at Lehigh, produced five first team all-conference selections this year including Patriot League Pitcher of the Year Stephanie Howell.

Northeast Region - Connecticut (36-23)

Karen Mullins, Head Coach; Pat Conlan, Ellen Mahoney and Peter Looney, Assistants

Mullins, Conlan, Mahoney and Looney took UConn to the BIG EAST Tournament championship after posting a third-place conference finish during the regular season. The conference tournament title earned the Huskies a spot in the Tallahassee Regional, the eighth NCAA postseason appearance in MullinsÕ 18 years at the school. The team recovered from a 9-18 start to post a22-game winning streak. All but 10 of MullinsÌ 594 career wins have come at UConn.

Pacific Region - Stanford (54-16-1)

John Rittman, Head Coach; Lonni Alameda and Sara Pickering, Assistants

Rittman and his staff capped the schoolÃŒs sixth season with a first ever trip to the WCWS after going 4-1 in the Stanford Regional. In Oklahoma City, the Cardinal tied LSU for third place. Rittman inaugurated the program in 1996 and the team has competed in NCAA postseason play the last four years. Stanford was 42-4-1 against non-Pac 10 competition this season.

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