LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Eight successful NCAA Division III softball programs earned 2017 NFCA Regional Coaching Staff of the Year honors, the Association revealed on Monday.
The national champion Virginia Wesleyan University coaching staff was the pick of its NFCA peers as the top team in the Atlantic Region, while five others that reached the NCAA Division III Championship in Oklahoma City made the list, along with two teams that just missed being among those final eight teams standing.
Virginia Wesleyan (54-3) set an NCAA Division III record for most wins in a season and defeated defending national champion Texas-Tyler twice facing elimination to reach the best-of-three NCAA Championship Series against St. John Fisher, where it swept the Cardinals to win its first Division III crown.
The Marlins’ lone loss in 12 NCAA tournament games was to the Patriots in their first contest in Oklahoma City. Virginia Wesleyan swept through the NCAA Regionals and NCAA Super Regionals (five games combined) after completing an undefeated (20-0) Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) regular season and going 4-1 en route to its 10th ODAC Tournament title.
The University of Texas at Tyler (46-6) was again the West Region Coaching Staff of the Year after tying for third place with Williams at the NCAA Championship and tying St. John Fisher for second behind Virginia Wesleyan in the final NFCA Division III Top 25 poll. The Patriots were the runner-up in the American Southwest Conference Tournament and captured both the NCAA Tyler Regional and Super Regional crowns.
St. John Fisher College (44-8) was the Northeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year after a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championship. The Cardinals captured the NCAA Rochester Regional and Super Regional championships after claiming the Empire 8 Tournament. Both of their losses in Oklahoma City came to national titlist Virginia Wesleyan in the Championship Series last Monday. They finished third at the 2016 NCAA Championship in Salem, Va.
Illinois Wesleyan University (37-15) is the Great Lakes Region Coaching Staff of the Year after returning to the NCAA Championship for a second straight season, where it tied with Amherst for fifth. The Titans did so after a change from Kat McCreery — who moved out of state and left coaching — to first-year head coach Tiffany Prager. Illinois Wesleyan ranked fifth in the final NFCA Top 25 and won the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Tournament before capturing the NCAA Alma Regional and Lexington Super Regional titles to advance to Oklahoma City.
St. Catherine University (38-14) claimed Midwest Region Coaching Staff of the Year honors after advancing to the NCAA Championship following victories in the NCAA Decorah Regional and St. Paul Super Regional. The Wildcats won the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament crown and finished No. 7 in the final NFCA Top 25.
Trine University (37-10) is a familiar choice as Central Region Coaching Staff of the Year, following a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championship and NCAA Whitewater Regional and Angola Super Regional titles. The Thunder lost in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament final and was the No. 8 team in the final NFCA Top 25.
Babson College (33-16) was voted the New England Region Coaching Staff of the Year after winning the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Tournament championship and the NCAA Babson Park Regional. The Beavers finished 25th in the final NFCA Top 25 and lost to Williams in the NCAA Williamstown Super Regional.
Ramapo College (32-11) earned East Region Coaching Staff of the Year honors following a season in which it won the NCAA Ithaca Regional after finishing third in the New Jersey Athletic Conference Tournament. Ramapo lost to Amherst in the NCAA Super Regional and ranked 23rd in the final NFCA Top 25.
These eight teams advanced to consideration for the NFCA NCAA Division III National Coaching Staff of the Year, with NFCA member voting available until 9 p.m. ET on Friday. The winner will be announced on June 12. Texas-Tyler was the 2016 recipient.