LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Head coach Patty Gasso, associate head coach Melyssa Lombardi, assistant coach Tripp MacKay and director of operations Sharon Bell of the NCAA Division I national champion University of Oklahoma softball squad have been selected as the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s Division I National Coaching Staff of the Year the Association announced on Tuesday.
The Sooners picked up their program’s second national title, rolling through the NCAA Tournament as the top seed with a perfect 10-0 record while outscoring their opponents, 91-16. Oklahoma also picked up its 10th outright Big 12 championship with a 15-2 league mark. On the way to the national crown, OU knocked off Texas A&M in two straight match-ups during the NCAA Super Regional and defeated Michigan (7-1), Texas (10-2 in 5 inn.), Washington (6-2) and Tennessee (twice in the championship series, 5-3 in 12 inn., 4-0) during WCWS play.
A 2012 NFCA Hall of Fame inductee, Gasso just completed her 19th season at the helm of the OU program. She owns a career collegiate coaching record of 1089-342-3 (.760) with an overall mark of 928-283-2 (.766) at the University of Oklahoma. She has won more Big 12 games (243-79) than any coach in the league's history and has twice as many wins as any other coach in OU history. Gasso's Sooner teams have finished second or higher in the league 14 different times since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996 and have won over 75 percent of their Big 12 contests. Oklahoma has claimed six Big 12 regular season and four championship titles under her direction.
For their work this season, Gasso, Lombardi, McKay and Bell also reaped the NFCA Central Region Coaching Staff of the Year award.
The National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) is the professional growth organization for fastpitch softball coaches for all competitive levels of play. Founded in the early 1980s by collegiate softball coaches, today the organization also includes high school coaches, travel ball/club coaches and individuals who support the sport.Founded by coaches for coaches, the Association is built on strong values and continually instills within its members a deep sense of responsibility for developing programs that enrich the lives of all those involved.
In addition, the Association provides educational training; encourages sportsmanship and high standards of competition; promotes the sport both nationally and internationally; identifies and pursues issues relevant to the fastpitch coaching profession and provides a forum to discuss those issues; honors excellence through awards programs for coaches and players, and keeps members informed of current coaching techniques, equipment innovations and fastpitch news.
Regionals winners this season were:
Central Region – University of Oklahoma (57-4, 15-2 Big 12)
Final USA Today/NFCA Ranking: 1st
Head Coach: Patty Gasso…Associate Head Coach: Melyssa Lombardi…Assistant Coach: Tripp MacKay…Director of Operations: Sharon Bell
Great Lakes – University of Michigan (51-13, 20-2 Big Ten)
Final USA Today/NFCA Ranking: 6th
Head Coach: Carol Hutchins…Associate Head Coach: Bonnie Tholl…Assistant Coach: Jennifer Brundage…Volunteer Coach: Nikki Nemitz…Director of Operations: Erin McLaughlin
Michigan won its sixth consecutive and 16th overall Big Ten regular-season crown (20-2 in league play) and advanced to the program’s 10th all-time Women’s College World Series while tallying a 51-13 overall record. After falling in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, the Wolverines went 3-0 in NCAA Regional action with wins over Valparaiso and No. 18 California (two), took two-of-three from No. 21 Louisiana-Lafayette during NCAA Super Regionals and were 1-2 at the WCWS (loss to No. 1 Oklahoma, win over No. 4 Arizona State, elimination loss to No. 11 Washington). Also had a string of 22 straight wins during the regular season.
Mid-Atlantic – Virginia Tech (38-21, 9-11 ACC)
Final USA Today/NFCA Ranking: RV
Head Coach: Scot Thomas...Associate Head Coach: Al Brauns…Assistant Coach: Barb Sherwood…Volunteer Assistant: Misty Hall
Despite a sixth-place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 9-11 mark, Virginia Tech advanced to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament (falling to second-seed N.C. State) and received a bid to the NCAA Lexington Regional. In NCAA play, the Hokies went on an impressive run, knocking off Big East Champion Notre Dame in its opener, topping Conference USA Tournament Champ Marshall and going 1-2 against No. 17 Kentucky, finally being eliminated in the deciding if-game, 1-0.
Mideast – University of Alabama-Birmingham (40-19, 19-4 Conference USA)
Final USA Today/NFCA Ranking: 16th
Head Coach: Marla Townsend…Assistant Coaches: Lucy Bass & Nick Crawford…Volunteer Assistant Coach: Erica Sisson
The 2013 season was truly one to remember for UAB as the Blazers secured their program’s first Conference USA regular season title and No. 1-seed at the league tournament, its first 40-win season and its initial NCAA Regional title. After dropping a tough 1-0 decision to Marshall in the Conference USA semifinals, UAB went on an impressive NCAA run, going 3-1 in the Louisville Regional with a victory over No. 15 Louisville and a pair of triumphs over perennial national power UCLA. Sent next to the Gainesville Super Regional to battle No. 2 national seed Florida on its home field, the Blazers fought the Gators hard, dropping a pair of one-run decisions (1-0, 4-3) in finally being eliminated.
Midwest – University of Nebraska (45-16, 16-6 Big Ten)
Final USA Today/NFCA Ranking: 8th
Head Coach: Rhonda Revelle…Associate Head Coach: Lori Sippel…Assistant Coach: Diane Miller…Director of Operations: Katie Brown
Nebraska finished 45-16 in 2013, posting the fifth-most victories in school history. Following a second-place Big Ten Conference finish, Nebraska earned a No. 14 national seed for the NCAA Tournament. Nebraska went 3-0 at its home regional, advancing to its first-ever NCAA Super Regional and capturing its first NCAA Regional crown since 2002. Nebraska then went 2-1 at No. 3 Oregon to earn the seventh trip to the Women’s College World Series in school history and the first since 2002. The Huskers fared well in Oklahoma City, despite a 0-2 record. Both losses at the WCWS – and all three of Nebraska’s postseason losses – came in extra innings to top-10 opponents. One of only four teams to defeat top-ranked Oklahoma in 2013, Nebraska finished with five victories over teams that finished the season ranked in the top 10 in both polls.
Northeast – Hofstra University (46-13, 18-2 CAA)
Final USA Today/NFCA Ranking: 25th
Head Coach: Bill Edwards…Associate Head Coach: Larissa Anderson…Assistant Coaches: Adrienne Clark & Kate Stake
Hofstra ended the season with a 46-13 record while setting the program-standard for single-season wins, besting the previous mark of 45-win campaigns set by both the 2008 and 2010 squads. The Pride also secured its second straight Colonial Athletic Association Tournament crown (10th in the last 12 years) and its 11th all-time CAA regular-season title. Sent to Columbia, Mo., for NCAA Regionals, the Pride posted a 3-2 mark, topping Oregon State twice and forcing the if-necessary game against No. 8 Missouri via a 10-0 (5 inn.) rout before falling in the regional title game, 5-0.
Pacific - University of Oregon (50-11, 19-5 Pac-12)
Final USA Today/NFCA Ranking: 9th
Head Coach: Mike White…Assistant Coaches: Blake Miller & Chelsea Spencer
Oregon completed its 2013 campaign at 50-11 overall, securing the program’s first-ever Pac-12 title with a 19-5 league mark while spending the entire season ranked in the national top 10. The Ducks swept through its home-hosted Eugene Regional at 3-0 with wins over BYU, North Carolina and Big Ten Tournament champ Wisconsin, before falling two-games-to-one in the best-of-three NCAA Eugene Super Regional to WCWS participant No. 14 Nebraska (L 2-5, W 4-3, L 2-4).
South - University of South Alabama (48-9, 17-3 Sun Belt)
Final USA Today/NFCA Ranking: 17th
Head Coach: Becky Clark…Assistant Coaches: Jimmy Kolaitis & Kristina McCain…Director of Operations: Meredith Tanner
For South Alabama, 2013 was a truly historic campaign, as the club broke into the top-25 for the first time in its seven-year history and finished the season ranked 15th in RPI, bolstered by several wins over high-profile programs such as LSU, Florida State, Mississippi State and Louisiana at Lafayette. USA claimed the Sun Belt Conference Tournament title and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Softball Championships for the second year in a row. At the NCAA Mobile Regional, South Alabama was 3-2 with wins over Mississippi Valley State, Mississippi State and Florida State. USA forced the if-necessary game against the Seminoles before suffering a heartbreaking 7-6 (8 inn.) defeat in the title tilt to be eliminated.
Southeast - University of Tennessee (52-12, 16-6 SEC)
Final USA Today/NFCA Ranking: 2nd
Co-Head Coaches: Karen & Ralph Weekly…Assistant Coach: Marty McDaniel…Volunteer Assistant Coach: Marc Weekly…Director of Operations: Lindsay Bell
Having entered NCAA Tournament play as the No. 7 national seed, Tennessee advanced all the way to the WCWS Championship Series for the second time in program history (previous was 2007) before falling in two hard-fought games to top-seed and national champion Oklahoma (5-3 in 12 inn., 4-0). The Lady Vols were 8-2 in NCAA Tournament action with their only two defeats coming against the Sooners. UT swept through both the NCAA Knoxville Regional (wins over Longwood and N.C. State-two) and Super Regional (swept No. 9 Alabama) and opened the WCWS at 3-0 with victories over nationally ranked Florida (9-2), Washington (1-0) and Texas (2-1). Tennessee finished just .023 behind Florida in the SEC regular-season title race at 16-6.
West - Arizona State University (50-12, 16-8 Pac-12)
Final USA Today/NFCA Ranking: 7th
Head Coach: Clint Myers…Associate Head Coach: Chuck D’Arcy…Assistant Coach & Recruiting Coordinator: Scott Woodard…Volunteer Assistant Coach: Casey Myers
For the seventh time in eight seasons, third in a row and 11th time overall, Arizona State advanced to the WCWS after spending the entire 2013 season as one of the top 15 teams in the NFCA rankings. The Sun Devils opened the season at a perfect 21-0, eventually posting a 50-win season while tying for second in the Pac-12 Conference race at 16-8. ASU was 5-2 in the NCAA Tournament, the program's 25th appearance; 3-0 in the Regional (wins over San Jose State and Georgia-two).