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NFCA Names Speedline Division I Regional Coaching Staffs of the Year

COLUMBIA, MO -- Ten NCAA Division I coaching staffs have been named  Speedline Regional Coaching Staffs of the year by vote of NFCA member coaches in each region. The 1999 Speedline/NFCA National Coaching Staff of the Year for Division I will be announced on June 29.

Here are the 1999 Speedline Division I Regional Coaching Staffs of the Year:

Great Lakes Region

University of Michigan 
Carol Hutchins, Head Coach

Carol Hutchins and her staff of Bonnie Tholl, Jennifer Brundage and Lisa Mello, guided the Wolverines to a 51-13-1 overall record and the school's sixth Big 10 regular season title in the last eight years. It was the fifth year in a row that Michigan has won 50 or more games. Hutchins tied for Big 10 Coach of the Year honors, the sixth time she has won or shared that honor. The Wolverines finished second in the Big 10 postseason tournament and hosted both that event and an NCAA Regional Championship tourney.

West Region

Fresno State University 
Margie Wright, Head Coach

After 14 seasons as the head coach of the Fresno State softball program, Margie Wright has directed the Bulldogs to the Women's College World Series in 10 of the last 13 years, winning the national championship in 1998 and finishing second three times. She became the second all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I history this year, finishing the season with an 887-290-3 career record, with 738 of those victories coming at Fresno State. This year, the Bulldogs finished 65-10 and won the Western Athletic Conference title with a 24-0 conference mark. Her assistants are Margaret Sutter and Mary Ivy.

Midwest Region

University of Oklahoma 
Patty Gasso, Head Coach

In her fifth season at Oklahoma, Patty Gasso, with assistants Melyssa Panzer and Tim Walton, led the Sooners to their second Big 12 regular season championship with an 11-3 conference record. Gasso, who was named Big 12 Coach of the year in 1999, also won the regular season title in '96 and was named conference coach of the year that year. The Sooners were 40-16 this year, giving Gasso 399 career wins, 237 of which have come at OU.

South Region

University of Southern Mississippi 
Lu Harris, Head Coach

Southern Miss Head Coach Lu Harris and her assistant coach, Sharon Perkins, put together an incredible run in 1999 when the program was reinstated after shutting down in 1992. In little more than a year, Harris put together a staff and a team and finished with a 52-9 record, making the WCWS after winning the NCAA Region 5 Tournament in Baton Rouge, LA. Harris' 1999 squad was the first, first-year team to open its season with two consecutive wins over nationally-ranked teams, to crack the USA Today/NFCA Top 10, amke the NCAA regionals and WCWS, and boast two Louisville Slugger/NFCA First Team All-Amreicans. Harris, who is in her third season as a collegiate head coach, has been to the postseason in each of those years and won the inaugural Women's Pro Fastpitch League title with the Orlando Wahoos. Her overall record is 206-64.

Southeast Region

Florida Atlantic University 
Joan Joyce, Head Coach

Hall of Famer Joan Joyce assumed the helm of the Florida Atlantic program upon its beginning five years ago and has built the team into a national contender. Joyce, a three-time Trans American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, and her staff of Carla Blefary and Chan Walker, led the Lady Owls into the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25. FAU posted a 49-18 record, captured the TAAC Tournament, advanced to the regional tournament with a roster composed primarily of underclassmen.

Mideast Region

DePaul University 
Eugene Lenti, Head Coach

Head Coach Eugene Lenti, with assistants Sara Hayes and Leigh Podlesny, led the Blue Demons to a 52-12 mark , their highest-ever USA Today/NFCA Top 25 ranking (third) and their first trip to the WCWS, where they took eventual champion UCLA to extra innings twice before losing one-run decisions to the Bruins. The Blue Demons finished first in the Mid-Continent Conference (22-0) and landed eight of its players on the first team All-MCC team. Lenti was named MCC Coach of the Year for the second year in a row and for the third time overall. In 18 seasons at DePaul, he is 586-317-3. Mid-Atlantic Region

University of Maryland 
Gina LaMandre, Head Coach

Gina LaMandre and her assistant coach, Rachel Lawson, led Maryland to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history in 1999. The Terps won a school-record 51 games, claimed the regular season championship of the Atlantic Coast Conference and the South Atlantic Softball Alliance, and were ranked No. 12 in the final USA Today/NFCA Top 25. Maryland was ranked as high as No.21 during the regular season and advanced to within one game of the Women's College World Series as it upset No. 3 Arizona during regional play in the NCAA tournament. LaMandre, the only head coach in the history of the Maryland program, improved her career record to 153-123-1 in five years. She earned her first ACC Coach of the Year honor this year.

Northeast Region

University of Massachusetts 
Elaine Sortino, Head Coach

In her 20th season at UMass, Elaine Sortino and assistant coaches Kathryn Gleason and Tracey Osier, led UMass to its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance. The Minutewomen finished the year with a 43-10 record, including winning 23 of their last 25 games of the season. UMass captured its fifth sraight Atlantic 10 title and has won 12 conference championships overall. Sortino, the winningest coach in the Northeast, has compiled a 653-289-3 record at UMass.

Pacific Region (tie)

Oregon State University 
Kirk Walker, Head Coach

In his fifth season at Oregon State, head coach Kirk Walker led the Beavers to their first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Alongside assistant coaches Gina Vecchione and Jenny Condon, Walker guided Oregon State to its first winning season since 1984. OSU finished with a 47-25 record to set the school record for single-season victories and the Beavers ended up setting a total of 28 team and individual school records during the season. The Beavers finished one game away from the College World Series and were ranked 10th in the final USA Today/NFCA Top 25, their highest-ever ranking in a final poll. Walker was named Pacific-10 Coach of the Year and was also Oregon State's Coach of the Year. The OSU softball team was named OSU's Team of the Year.

University of Washington 
Teresa Wilson, Head Coach

As the only head coach in the seven-year history of the Washington program, Teresa Wilson, along with assistants Scott Centala and Jennifer Cline, led UW to a runner-up finish in the 1999 Women's College World Series. The Huskies concluded the sason on an eight-game winning streak before the champinship game, including an upset over No. 1 UCLA to fniish the regular season and an undefated run to the NCAA Region 3 title. Wilson led the Huskies to a 51-18 overall record and a third-place finish in the Pacific-10 with a mark of 15-12. She eanred her 500th career victory early this season and her 300th win at UW the next day. Washington has competed in postseason play in six of its seven years of existence, including four straight berths in the WCWS.