LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Head coach Chris Steiner-Wilcoxson, assistant coach Scottie Wilkes and student assistant coach Emma Johansen of NAIA National Champion Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) have been selected as the NFCA’s 2014 NAIA National Coaching Staff of the Year, the Association announced on Tuesday.
With the Southern State Athletic Conference’s regular-season championship already in hand after going 25-1 in SSAC play, the Warhawks (44-7) set their sights on a larger prize. AUM’s run to the program’s first NAIA national title saw the second-seed defeat seventh-seeded Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), sixth-seeded William Carey (Miss.) and fifth-seeded Reinhardt (Ga.) in that order to advance in the winner’s bracket. Entering Game 18 needing to beat conference foe William Carey (Miss.) just once to secure the national crown, the Warhawks suffered a 7-4 defeat to force a decisive winner-take-all match-up. AUM wouldn’t be denied the championship, however, outlasting the Crusaders in Game 19, 10-6.
Having just completed her sixth season in charge of Auburn Montgomery’s program, Steiner-Wilcoxson now possesses a 234-97-2 record at AUM and an overall coaching mark of 318-177-2. She has guided the Warhawks to three consecutive 40-plus win seasons, three-straight NAIA tournaments and back-to-back NAIA World Series berths, all firsts in the history of the program.
For their work this year, Steiner-Wilcoxson, Wilkes and Johansen were also chosen as the NFCA East Region Coaching Staff of the Year.
Other regional winners this season were:
West Region – College of Idaho
Head Coach: Al Mendiola
Assistant Coaches: Patrick Gonzalez, Curt Thiel
Record: 35-18 (19-9 Cascade Conference)
In completing his ninth season as the head coach of the Lady Yotes, Mendiola, the College of Idaho’s all-time leader in wins with a 253-168 overall record, and his staff guided the program to a 35-18 overall mark (19-9 in the Cascade Conference – third place), a No. 7 final national ranking in the NAIA Softball Coaches Postseason Poll and through a magical run all the way to Game 14 at the NAIA World Series in Columbus, Ga. In its final NAIA World Series match-up, C of I battled eventual national runner-up William Carey (Miss.) over nine innings before succumbing 6-5.
Midwest Region – Central Methodist University (repeat)
Head Coach: Pat Reardon
Assistant Coach: Gene Reardon
Graduate Assistant Coaches: Kayla Yount, Jacqui Cappuccilli, Lyndsey Talbot
Record: 43-8 (17-1 Heart of America Athletic Conference)
A “three-peat” winner as the Midwest Region Coaching Staff of the Year, Central Methodist swept the Heart of America Athletic Conference regular-season (fourth straight crown) and tournament titles for the third consecutive year on the way to a program-record 43 victories and a No. 16 final ranking. The Eagles advanced to the championship game of the Columbia bracket in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round before dropping a 6-1 decision to top-seeded LSU Alexandria (La.). The honor marks the third straight year and fourth time overall that Reardon and his staff have earned the NFCA Midwest Region accolade, having done so previously in 2008, 2012 and 2013.
Southwest Region – Oklahoma City University (repeat)
Head Coach: Phil McSpadden
Assistant Coach: Bobbi Bridges
Record: 55-13 (25-7 Sooner Athletic Conference)
A “three-peat” NFCA Coaching Staff of the Year recipient in the Southwest Region (2012, 2013, 2014), Oklahoma City finished the year at 55-13 overall and ranked eighth in the nation following a run to the NAIA Softball World Series. After just missing out on the Sooner Athletic Conference’s regular-season title by finishing a very close third (two games back), the Stars successfully captured their 17th SAC tournament championship to earn a national tournament bid. OCU made the most of that opportunity, advancing all the way to Game 16 (one of the final four teams remaining) at the NAIA World Series before being eliminated by eventual national runner-up William Carey (Miss.). McSpadden and Bridges also earned NFCA National Coaching Staff of the Year accolades back in 2012.
Great Lakes Region – Olivet Nazarene University
Head Coach: Ritchie Richardson
Graduate Assistant Coach: Jordan Reynolds
Record: 49-3-1 (19-0-1 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference)
Olivet Nazarene swept the regular-season and tournament championships of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference and rang up a staggering 46-game unbeaten streak during the 2014 campaign on the way to a berth in the NAIA Softball World Series in Columbus, Ga., and a final ranking of No. 9. At the NAIA national event, the Tigers finally ran out of magic, suffering consecutive shutout defeats for the first time all season against eventual national runner-up William Carey (Miss.) (0-2) and College of Idaho (0-3).