LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Florida SouthWestern State College, Murray State College and North Dakota State College of Science were voted by their peers as the 2023 ATEC/NFCA NJCAA National Coaching Staffs of the Year, the Association announced on Wednesday.
The Buccaneers (NJCAA DI) and Wildcats (NJCAA DIII) won their division’s national championship, while the Aggies recorded an undefeated regular season and were NJCAA Division II’s top overall seed at the National Championship.
Florida SouthWestern (54-5) captured its third straight NJCAA Division I national title with a 10-6 victory over rival Northwest Florida (57-11) in the final. With a 5-0 run through the national tournament, the Buccaneers became the first team in over 30 years, and only the second team ever to three peat in NJCAA Division I softball. Head coach Robert Iamurri and assistants Kellie Quarles-Webb, Brett Sauerwein and Pat Carosone have steered FSW to consecutive 50-plus win seasons and a 159-15 record the past three years.
Murray State (58-2) won its first 58 games, the longest unbeaten streak in NJCAA DII history, and the second-best across all three divisions. Head coach Aaron Mullens and assistants Charlie Crawford and C.J. Crane led the Aggies to their best season in program history and a total of 105 wins and two NJCAA DII World series appearances the last two years. In 2023, Murray State held the top spot in the national rankings for the entirety of the 2023 regular season (preseason No. 2) and was one of the top offensive, defensive and pitching teams nationally. The Aggies posted the second-best ERA (1.54) and fielding percentage (.976) and ranked in the top-10 in home runs (4th), slugging (4th), runs scored (5th), triples (5th), RBI (5th), base hits (6th), doubles (6th), walks (6th), batting average (7th) and on-base percentage (9th).
Head coach Mike Oehlke and assistant coach Matt Fellows steered the Wildcats to their first-ever NJCAA Division III national championship. Posting a 5-1 mark at the championship site, NDSCS had to win three straight elimination games after dropping the semifinal to Corning Community College. In a rematch of that semifinal, the Wildcats forced an if game with an 11-4 victory and walked off in a wild 13-12 affair, seeing NDSCS score six runs in the bottom of the seventh to claim the title. Oehlke, who was named NJCAA DIII Coach of the Tournament, has guided the Wildcats to three consecutive Region 13 crowns and 97 wins during that time.
The national coaching staff of the year award is voted on by respective member head coaches of each to the NJCAA membership groups. All three staffs will be recognized at the NFCA Awards Brunch on Dec. 9 at the 2023 NFCA Convention in Louisville.
Celebrating 40 years in 2023, the NFCA is the professional organization for fastpitch softball coaches. Known for its highly-regarded coaches polls and All-America awards, the NFCA also educates and supports softball coaches on a variety of different levels: from podcasts to awards, to in-person events and National Convention.