LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- University of Florida head coach Tim Walton, assistant coaches Jennifer Rocha and Kenny Gajewski, and volunteer assistant coach Stacie Pestrak of the back-to-back Division I National Champion Gators were named the 2015 NFCA DI National Coaching Staff of the Year, announced on Wednesday.
It was another season to remember for Florida as Walton and his staff led the Gators to their second straight Division I national championship after topping Michigan in a competitive and thrilling three-game WCWS finals. Recording a 60-7 mark, UF posted its second 60-win season in program history. They also took home the third national championship in four year for the Southeastern Conference.
Florida finished the season strong posting a 28-3 record after April 1st. The Gators claimed the SEC regular season title and defeated 19 ranked teams during their run to the championship. Florida only dropped one game (0-1 to Michigan in WCWS finals) during the entirety of NCAA post-season play, sweeping through regionals, super regionals and the bracket portion of the WCWS.
Walton, who tallied his 500th career win at Florida at the beginning of the season, is now 552-121 through his ten years as Florida’s skipper and 675-185 all time as a head coach.
NFCA Division I Region Coaching Staffs of the Year
Central – University of Oklahoma
Final Rank: No. 9 – Overall: 49-9 – Big 12: 14-12
Head Coach: Patty Gasso
Associate Head Coach: Melyssa Lombardi
Assistant Coaches: Tripp MacKay
Volunteer Assistant Coach: Nicole Bishop
The Sooners came out of the gates on fire, winning nine straight games and took this momentum into conference play, dropping just two conference games all year to earn the Big 12 Conference title. As the 11th overall national seed, Oklahoma would sweep through the Norman regional topping Central Arkansas and Texas A&M (twice), before dropping a tough three-game Super Regional at No. 6 Alabama. It is the program’s second straight NFCA Region CSOY award.
Great Lakes Region – University of Michigan
Final Rank: No. 2 – Overall Record: 60-8 – Big 10: 21-2
Head Coach: Carol Hutchins
Associate Head Coach: Bonnie Tholl
Assistant Coach: Jenifer Brundage
Volunteer Coach: Nikki Nemitz
National Runner-up Michigan reached 60 wins for the second time in school history. The Wolverines won their eighth straight Big Ten Conference Championship and also took home the conference tournament title. Michigan swept through the NCAA Regional and Super Regional defeating Oakland, California, Pittsburgh, and Georgia (Supers) on the way to its 11th WCWS appearance in school history. The Wolverines had their 28-game winning streak snapped in game of the WCWS finals … They would bounce back with a game-two victory (1-0) before falling to Florida (4-1) in the winner-take-all final. Second straight NFCA Region CSOY award.
Mid-Atlantic Region – University of Pittsburgh
Overall Record: 37-22 – ACC: 11-13
Head Coach: Holly Aprile
Assistant Coaches: Gina Fuchs and Lauren Cognigni
Selected to finish 10th out of 11 teams in the ACC, Pitt came into conference play sporting a 20-4 record and ended up finishing sixth in the ACC regular season. The Panthers reached the conference tournament championship before falling to the No. 9 overall seed Florida State. Pitt made its first-ever postseason appearance as it travelled to Ann Arbor, Michigan. After falling to Cal in its regional opener, Pitt defeated Oakland and the Bears to reach to the regional final, falling to National Runner-up and host Michigan.
Co-Mideast Region – University of Central Florida
Final Rank: No. 16 – Overall Record: 50-9 – AAC: 16-2
Head Coach: Renee Luers-Gillispie
Assistant Coaches: Tiffany Patteson and Hillary Barrow
Volunteer Assistant Coach: Jeff Conrad
The Knights set a program record with 50 wins. They won the American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships, while boasting a school record 16-2 conference mark. As a team, they held the lowest ERA in the country and had eight players selected all-conference. The Knights earned the No. 2 seed in the Tallahassee Regional, and would end up falling to the top-seeded Florida State in the regional final.
Co-Mideast Region – Western Kentucky University
Overall Record: 36-14 - Conference USA: 16-5
Head Coach: Amy Tudor
Assistant Coaches: K.C. Boldt and Aja Paculba
Western Kentucky met adversity throughout the season having 16 games cancelled, but was able to rally and win the Conference USA regular-season and conference tournament in its first year in the league. Recorded the highest winning percentage in school history (.720). Earned second NCAA post season bid in three years. In the Athens Regional, the Hilltoppers won their first two games, including a thrilling walk-off 14-inning triumph over host and 14th overall seed Georgia. However their season came to an end after dropping a pair of games to the Bulldogs in the regional final.
Midwest Region- North Dakota State University
Final Rank: No. 25 – Overall Record: 45-11 – Summit League: 16-2
Head Coaches: Darren Mueller, Jamie Trachsel
Assistant Coach: Brynne Dordel
Graduate Assistant Manager: Kendall Grimm
The Bison finished their season off strong winning 26 out of 29 regular season games. They tallied the most wins in program history since 2002. Summit League regular season and tournament champions… Earned their sixth NCAA tournament appearance and the reached the regional final for the second time in program history. They picked up victories over Fresno State (4-0) and Brigham Young (7-0), but dropped both contests to host and No. 2 overall seed Oregon (3-4 / 1-6).
Northeast Region- Hofstra University
Overall Record: 38-14-1 – CAA: 17-3
Head Coach: Larissa Anderson
Assistant Coaches: Julie Meyer, Caitlin Dent, and Brittany Garvey
Secretary: Harriet Teitle
Hofstra won the CAA title for the third time in the last four years and the 19th time in school history. After losing three of their first four games of the season, the Pride turned their season around and won nine straight to end the regular season. Finished second in the CAA regular season and made its 16th NCAA tournament appearance in school history at the Gainesville Regional.
Pacific Region – University of Oregon
Final Rank: No. 7 – Overall Record: 51-8 – PAC-12: 21-3
Head Coach: Mike White
Assistant Coaches: James Kolaitis and Chelsea Spencer
Volunteer Assistant Coach: Damian Williams
Oregon started the season very strong winning 14 games before suffering its first lost. The Ducks claimed their third straight PAC-12 title and won their third Super Regional in four years. They swept through regional and super regionals, defeating BYU, North Dakota State (twice), and North Carolina State (twice). They entered the Women’s College World Series as one of the top teams, but would fall to UCLA and Alabama. Second straight NFCA Region CSOY award.
South Region – Louisiana State University
Final Rank: No. 4 – Overall Record: 52-14 – SEC: 15-9
Head Coach: Beth Torina
Assistant Coaches: Howard Dobson and Lindsay Leftwich
Student Coach: Tammy Wray
Volunteer Assistant: Kara Dill
WCWS semifinalist LSU was strong throughout the season, only suffering losses to nationally-ranked programs. After falling to Arizona State, LSU, in three straight elimination games, topped Nebraska and the Sun Devils (twice) to win the regional. They followed that with a sweep of No. 16 Arizona in the Super Regionals to advance the Women’s College World Series. The Tigers went 2-2 at the WCWS defeating Auburn and Alabama with their two defeats coming at the hands of national champion Florida and runner-up Michigan.
Southeast Region- Auburn University
Final Rank: No. 3 – Overall Record: 56-11 – SEC: 18-6
Head Coach: Clint Myers
Assistant Coaches: Scott Woodard and Corey Myers
Volunteer Assistant Coach: Casey Myers
Reached WCWS semifinals in first-ever appearance. The Tigers accomplished many firsts in program history, which included a school-record 56 wins. Picked seventh in the SEC preseason poll, the Tigers finished second in the regular season, a half game behind Florida. Claimed first SEC Tournament title in first finals appearance. Auburn swept through the NCAA Regional and Super Regionals defeating Tennessee Tech, No. 22 South Alabama (twice) and No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette (twice). After dropping its WCWS opener, Auburn won two straight elimination games over Tennessee and UCLA before falling to eventual national champion Florida in nine innings.
West Region- University of California, Los Angeles
Final Rank: No. 5 – Overall Record: 51-12 – PAC 12: 19-5 –
Head Coach: Kelly Inouye-Perez
Assistant Coaches: Lisa Fernandez and Kirk Walker
Volunteer Assistant Coach: Hayden Maurice
Collected 50-plus wins for the second straight season and came into the NCAA tournament as the No. 7 overall seed. The Bruins finished second the PAC-12 regular season and swept through their NCAA Regional and Super Regional, picking up victories over Cal State Northridge, Texas, San Diego State and No. 10 Missouri (twice). UCLA won its WCWS opener over No. 2 seed Oregon (7-1), before falling to national runner-up Michigan (4-10) and Auburn (10-11 in 10 inn.).