(L-R) Jordon Yost, Thomas Macera, Stephanie Carlson & Lindsay Campana. Courtesy of VSU Sports Information.STARKVILLE, Miss. – Head coach Thomas Macera and assistant coaches Lindsay Campana, Stephanie Carlson and Jordon Yost of the 2012 NCAA Division II National Champions Valdosta State have been named as the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II National Coaching Staff of the Year, the Association announced on Monday.
The Blazers went 58-5 overall and 26-1 in the Gulf South Conference to clinch conference regular-season crown. The Blazers did not lose a conference game until the final day of the regular season when their record-breaking 36-game win-streak came to an end.
In the postseason, Valdosta won its fourth consecutive GSC tournament title and its seventh overall with a perfect 5-0 record. In the regional round, the Blazers won the first two games before falling in the first game of the final to Rollins, forcing an “If Necessary Game.” In the winner-take-all final, Valdosta grinded out a 1-0 win to move on to the super regionals for the third time in four years.
In the super regionals, the Blazers swept Florida Southern in two games to advance to the national championship. The appearance in the final eight marked the second time in three years that Valdosta advanced to the national championship.
The Blazers dropped their opening game of the national tournament to defending champions UC San Diego, forcing them into the elimination bracket. Valdosta went on to win four games in three days, including beating Kutztown twice, to advance to the program’s second national title game. In the championship, the Blazers avenged their earlier loss to UC San Diego and topped the Tritons, 4-1, for the first softball national championship in school history.
In just six seasons at Valdosta, the 2012 GSC Coach of the Year has amassed an impressive career record of 343-85 with the Blazers. In his six seasons in Valdosta, Macera has never won less than 41 games and has won 50-plus games on three separate occasions, including this season.
For their work this season, Macera and staff also earned the South Region Coaching Staff of the Year award.
Other regional winners this season were:
Atlantic Region – Kutztown University
Head Coach: Judy Lawes
Assistant Coach: Larry Chester & Don Justus
Record: 52-7 (19-1 PSAC)
Kutztown’s 2012 campaign was a record breaking one in which it won 50-plus games for the first time in program history. The Golden Bears captured the PSAC East Division regular-season, the Atlantic Region 1 and Atlantic Super Regional titles this season. After reaching the National Championship for the first-time in program history, Kutztown ended it season in the national semifinals, where it fell to eventual national champion Valdosta.
Central Region – Augustana College (SD)
Head Coach: Gretta Melsted
Graduate Assistants: Michael Mook & Kelsey Thompson
Record: 53-12 (22-4 NSIC)
After finishing second in the NSIC in both the regular season and conference tournament, Augustana finally broke through the glass ceiling in the NCAA tournament, winning both the Central Regional 2 and Central Super Regional Titles. After a 5-0 run through the first two rounds, the Vikings advanced to the National Championship for the first time since 1998.
East Region – Southern Connecticut State University
Head Coach: Lisa Barbaro
Assistant Coaches: Kelly Brenner & Paul Raccio
Record: 43-13 (24-6 NE-10)
Southern Connecticut captured the Northeast 10 regular-season championship in 2012, before a disappointing fourth-place finish in the league tournament. The loss, however, made the Owls more determined and they went 5-1 in the first two rounds of the national tournament. Southern Connecticut also advanced to it first National Championship this season, where it went 1-2.
Midwest Region – University of Indianapolis
Head Coach: Melissa Frost-Fisher
Assistant Coaches: Sara Anderson & Kathy Blanchard
Graduate Assistants: Ashley Balazs & Kacy Kestner
Record: 50-9 (28-6 GLVC)
Indianapolis posted the fourth lowest staff ERA in the nation this season and that helped them capture the GLVC East championship and its first-ever tournament title. The Greyhounds earned the No. 1 overall seed in the Midwest and hosted a NCAA regional for the first time in school history; they went on to finish third at the event.
Southeast Region – Flagler College
Head Coach: Kristen Overton
Assistant Coach: Sam Boatner
Record: 39-20 (11-9 PBC)
Flagler was one of the hottest teams in the postseason this year and advanced to its first National Championship as the seventh seed out of the Southeast. After a disappointing first-round exit from the Peach Belt tournament, the Saints went 3-0 in their regional and then went 2-1 against perennial power North Georgia to capture its first super regional crown.
South Central Region – University of Central Oklahoma
Head Coach: Genny Stidham
Central Oklahoma had a breakout year and posted a record 35-game win streak during the regular season. Despite being an independent for the 2012 season, the Bronchos' impressive resume earned them the two-seed in the South Central region and the opportunity to host a regional. After winning their regional, Central Oklahoma took two of three games from Angelo State to advance to the National Championship for the first time since 2006. The Bronchos went 2-0 in Louisville before falling twice to defending champion UC San Diego in the national semifinal.
West Region – University of California, San Diego
Head Coach: Patti Gerckens
Assistant Coach: Allison May, Jessica Millsap, Sara Robinson & Nichole Willis
Volunteer Assistant: Katrin Gabriel
Record: 45-23 (22-9 CCAA)
The 2011 national champion UC San Diego almost made it two in a row this season, after advancing to its second national title game in as many years. The Tritons finished fourth in the CCAA during the regular-season, but battled back to win its first-ever conference tournament title. Despite losing its first game in both the regional and super regional rounds, UC San Diego proved its toughness by winning both and advancing to the national championship for the second consecutive season. At the national tournament, the Tritons once again suffered an early loss, but battled back to finish as national runner-up.