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Speedline/NFCA Division II Coaching Staff of the Year

COLUMBIA, MO -- St. Mary's University (Texas) head coach Donna Fields and graduate assistant coach Jessica Peoples have been named the 2002 Speedline/NFCA Division II National Coaching Staff of the Year.

Fields and Peoples guided St. Mary's to the 2002 NCAA Division II national championship in the Rattlers' first-ever appearance in the national finals and in only the school's third year in Division II. St. Mary's posted a 58-11 record and finished the season with 26 wins in its final 28 games. Pitcher/first baseman Kym Kling was named Most Valuable Player of the Division II national championship, and Kling and shortstop Natalie Hill were both selected as first team All-Americans.

The St. Mary's staff was selected by its peers as the Speedline Division II South Central Region Coaching Staff of the Year and was then placed on the national coaching staff of the year ballot. They will be recognized as the 2002 Speedline/NFCA Division II National Coaching Staff of the Year at the NFCA National Convention in St. Petersburg, Florida, in December.

Other Speedline top regional coaching staffs, as selected by their coaching peers, are:

Great Lakes Region -- Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville
Sandy Montgomery, Head Coach
Bryon Belt, Assistant

Southern Illinois-Edwardsville posted a 51-12 record and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the USA Today/NFCA Division II Top 25. SIUE won its first-ever Great Lakes Valley Conference title and was the No. 1 seed at the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional. The 51 wins is a school record, 10 wins more than the previous record. Third baseman Valerie McCoy earned All-American third team honors and outfielder Jenny Esker was named GLVC Player of the Year.

South Atlantic Region -- University of North Florida
Sonya Wilmoth, Head Coach
Terrance Freeman, Assistant

North Florida finished the season with a record of 38-11 and was the runner-up at the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Regional. The Ospreys were ranked as high as No. 4 in the USA Today/NFCA Division II Top 25 and finished the season ranked No. 10. Pitcher Gina Ripper earned second team All-American honors and was named Peach Belt Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year.

South Region -- Barry University
Shelly Lis, Head Coach
Nikki Fiedler and Danielle Penner, Assistants

Barry posted a 45-15 record and finished tied for fifth at the NCAA Division II national championship. The Buccaneers, which were ranked No. 5 in the year-end USA Today/NFCA Division II Top 25, went undefeated at the South Regional. Pitcher Geralyn Elam, a first team All-American and the Division II softball nominee for the Honda Award, pitched back-to-back perfect games to open the regional.

West Region -- Chico State University
Teri Rupe, Head Coach

Chico State finished in a third-place tie at the NCAA Division II national championship as the Wildcats posted a 36-27 record. Chico State was ranked No. 4 in the year-end USA Today/NFCA Division II Top 25. The fifth-seeded team at the West Regional, Chico State overcame a first-round loss to win five consecutive games and earn its first-ever trip to the Division II national finals. Pitcher Katie Stokx and outfielder Kamala Kiffe were both named to the all-tournament team at the national championship.

North Central Region -- North Dakota State University
Darren Mueller, Head Coach
Mike McLeod and Nikki Gregg, Assistants
Shelly Rhein, Graduate Assistant

North Dakota State won the North Central Regional and reached the NCAA Division II national finals for the third time in four years, finishing in a tie for seventh. The Bison posted a 44-10 record and were ranked No. 7 in the year-end USA Today/NFCA Division II Top 25. NDSU pitcher Lindsay Graham earned All-America first team honors. Darren Mueller was named as interim head coach less than two months before the start of the regular season, and was recently promoted to full-time head coach.

Mid-Atlantic Region -- Lock Haven University
Kelley Green, Head Coach
Leslie Moore, Assistant Coach

Lock Haven reached NCAA Division II post-season play for the first time since 1988 when the Eagles finished as national runner-up. Lock Haven finished second at the Mid-Atlantic Regional and posted an overall record of 37-15, setting a school single-season win record. Lock Haven was ranked No. 21 in the year-end USA Today/NFCA Division II Top 25. Second baseman Lynnette Murray earned All-America first team honors. Leslie Moore was recently named as the first-ever head softball coach at George Washington, which will begin playing softball in the spring of 2003.

Northeast Region -- Long Island University-C.W. Post
Jamie Apicella, Head Coach
Lindsay Sawyer, Assistant Coach

C.W. Post became the first team in New York Collegiate Athletic Conference softball history to go undefeated in conference play, finishing with a 22-0 record. The Pioneers posted an overall record of 39-16 and won both the NYCAC regular season and tournament titles. C.W. Post, which placed third at the Northeast Regional, was ranked No. 25 in the year-end USA Today/NFCA Division II Top 25. Outfielder Kim Logana earned All-American third team honors.