With a national title in hand, the Oklahoma softball coaching staff has been selected by the National Fastpitch Association as the 2013 NFCA Division I National Coaching Staff of the Year, it was announced Wednesday.
Head coach Patty Gasso, associate head coach Melyssa Lombardi, assistant coach Tripp MacKay and director of operations Sharon Bell took home the honor after guiding the Sooners to a 57-4 record and the second national championship in program history.
Gasso’s staff, which included Lombardi, was also tabbed the nation’s best in 2000 after the Sooners won the first national title in school history.
Throughout the season, Oklahoma was the best and most dominant team in the country and it reached its peak as it entered the postseason.
Oklahoma was a perfect 10-0 in the NCAA tournament and outscored its opponents 91-16. Facing Tennessee in the championship series, OU claimed a dramatic game one victory with a 5-3, 12-inning come-from-behind win. In game two, Michelle Gascoigne struck out 12 while Keilani Ricketts drove in all the runs in a 4-0 victory.
The Sooners were ranked No. 1 by ESPN.com/USA Softball for 15 straight weeks to end the season, while the USA Today/NFCA poll put Oklahoma on top for the final 11 weeks. Six times this season OU was a unanimous No. 1, including the final polls.
In addition to being named the USA Softball Player of the Year for the second straight season, Ricketts was honored with the Honda Cup, given to the nation’s top female collegiate athlete.
Ricketts was one of four All-Americans, joining Lauren Chamberlain, Brianna Turang and Shelby Pendley. Those four were also named All-Region along with Gascoigne and Destinee Martinez.
In the Big 12, Gasso was named Coach of the Year for the second year in a row and sixth time in her career. In addition, Pendley was chosen Big 12 Player of the Year and Ricketts was selected as the league’s Pitcher of the Year. The Sooners put five players on the All-Big 12 First Team, two players on the All-Big 12 Second Team and four on the inaugural All-Big 12 Defensive Team.
The team led the nation in both earned run average (1.16) and runs scored per game (7.8), becoming the first team in DI history to do so. In addition, OU led the country in slugging percentage (.582) and winning percentage (.934).
Individually, Chamberlain was the nation’s leader in home runs (30), home runs per game (.49), runs scored per game (1.43) and slugging (1.113), while Gascoigne’s ERA of 0.88 was tops in the country.
A 2012 NFCA Hall of Fame inductee, Gasso just completed her 19th season at the helm of the OU program. She owns a career collegiate coaching record of 1089-342-3 (.760) with an overall mark of 928-283-2 (.766) at the University of Oklahoma. The team’s winning percentage of .934 this year was the fourth best in NCAA Division I history.
Gasso has won more Big 12 games (243-79) than any coach in the league's history and has twice as many wins as any other coach in OU history. Oklahoma has claimed six Big 12 regular season and four championship titles under her direction, including the 2013 crown after a 15-2 mark in league play.