2017 National Fastpitch Coaches Association Full Packageby National Fastpitch Coaches Association
Missed the convention in Las Vegas last year? Good news! You can still see all the great speaker presentations from 2017's NFCA National Convention in this compilation course.
• Over 11 hours of educational softball coaching content
• 21 speakers coaching softball at the best colleges across the US
Matt Meuchel, Assistant Coach, University of Arkansas
Following an eight-year tenure as Nevada's head coach, Matt Meuchel joined the Razorback coaching staff as an assistant in August of 2016.
In his first season in Fayetteville, Meuchel was part of a staff that helped orchestrate a 17-win increase and get the Razorbacks to the SEC and NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. Individually, the team had two All-SEC performers in A.J. Belans and Autumn Storms while Storms and Nicole Schroeder both earned NFCA All-South Region accolades.
Working with the Razorbacks’ infield, Meuchel’s tutelage resulted in a .968 fielding percentage which established a new program single-season record. At third base, Autumn Russell ranked eighth in the SEC with 134 assists while committing just five errors. Belans also finished inside the top 10 in the league with 131 assists from shortstop.
During his eight-seasons, Meuchel guided the Wolf Pack to 196 victories. In 2016, Nevada posted a 32-15 overall record with a 10-10 mark in the Mountain West Conference. It was the program’s best season since joining the conference in 2013. Meuchel saw five of his student-athlete named to the 2016 All-Mountain West Conference Team including a pair of first-team selections.
After four years as an assistant coach for Nevada and two seasons with Oklahoma State, Meuchel returned to Reno as head coach in 2009 and responded by leading the team to a 40-19 record and an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. That season, Nevada tallied a 15-5 record within the Western Athletic Conference to claim a share of the regular-season title. Meuchel went on to earn his first NCAA victory as a head coach with a win over Cal Poly in the first round of the Palo Alto Regional.
Between his role as an assistant coach (2003-06) and head coach (2009-16) at Nevada, Meuchel helped the Wolf Pack collect 35 postseason all-conference individual accolades among 22 student-athletes including five WAC All-Tournament Team selections. That collection of awards included WAC Pitcher of the Year honors for Katie Holverson in 2009.
Mike Candrea, Head Coach, University of Arizona
Mike Candrea is his 32nd season as the head coach of the University of Arizona softball team and under his guidance reaching the pinnacle should once again underscore a record of success almost unparalleled by any program in any sport at any level.
Candrea is one of the most respected coaches in the nation, with the accomplishments to supplement: eight national titles in a 24-season span, 21 trips to the Women’s College World Series in the last 27 seasons, over 1,500 career victories, a mind-boggling career winning percentage of 80%, 54 All-Americans with a staggering 95 citations, four national players of the year and stewardship of Team USA to an Olympic gold medal, to name a few.
His most recent accomplishment came on March 26, 2017 when he reached the 1,500-win plateau after his squad's 5-2 victory over Washington.
The aforementioned gold medal came with his stint as the head coach of Team USA in 2004. His second Olympic squad took home the silver in 2008. Softball was then put on a hiatus from the Olympics, but Candrea’s work in the sport’s final two Olympic years prior to being reinstated for 2020 will not soon be forgotten. Under his tutelage in 2004, the team posted a perfect 9-0 record, outscoring its opponents 51-1 on its way to a gold medal in one of the most dominant team performances in any sport in Olympic history. In 2008, the team came just short of winning its fourth consecutive gold medal.
Since 1988, UA has won fewer than five postseason games just six times and has eclipsed the 50-win mark 17 times and won at least 33 games in the other years. No one talks about losing around Arizona softball, but even in lean times the Wildcats did not lose 25 games in any of the 30 seasons under Candrea’s watch. Avoiding a “down” year has been a trademark of Candrea’s program, and one not universally shared even among the game’s elite.
In 1991, a gutty and defensive-oriented UA team swept Arizona State in NCAA Regional play in Tempe and went on to play five games pivotal to the history of Arizona softball, at Oklahoma City in the College World Series. Candrea and the Cats earned their first national championship, beating UCLA 5-1 in the title game.
The program was off and running and Tucson became a destination for many of the best young players in the game, finishing the decade of the 1990s with 523 victories against 75 losses. Other national championships followed - 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2006 and 2007. Following each of the titles in 1994, 1996, 1997 and 2007, Candrea was named the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I Coach of the Year.
Candrea has stressed academic success, as well, with K’Lee Arredondo (2010, first team), Autumn Champion (2006, second team), Wendy Allen (2004, second team), Leah O’Brien (first team, 1994, 1995 and 1997), Jenny Dalton (first team in 1996, second team in 1995) and Nancy Evans (1998) earning Academic All-America honors.
Candrea is sought out by softball and baseball coaches around the country and has delivered instructional clinics throughout the nation. He is particularly known for hitting techniques, team fielding drills and squad motivational preparation. In recent years, he has consulted with Major League Baseball stars and other learned technicians to conduct national hitting clinics, and he participates in dozens of such sessions to help improve the way softball is taught and played. He has written several books and produced a number of videotapes on various softball subjects and has designed specific practice aids and equipment that are widely used at various levels of play.
Melyssa Lombardi, Associate Head Coach, University of Oklahoma
Having completed her 20th season as a full-time coach, Melyssa Lombardi continues to guide the Sooner pitchers and catchers to even greater accomplishments. Lombardi was promoted to her current position of associate head coach in July 2007.
Drawing from her playing days as a catcher for the Sooners from 1995-96, Lombardi has lent her valuable experiences in tutoring the Oklahoma catchers and pitchers. During her tenure, the Sooners have won the 2000, 2013, 2016 and 2017 National Championships and have won 16 NCAA Regional Championships in 20 postseason appearances. In addition the Sooners have claimed nine Big 12 regular season titles (1999, 2000, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017) and four conference tournament championships (2001, 2007, 2010 and 2017).
As a member of the Sooners' coaching staff, Lombardi has been a part of four NFCA National Coaching Staffs of the Year (2000, 2013, 2016 and 2017), and 10 Regional Coaching Staffs of the Year (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017).
A former all-conference catcher for the Sooners, Lombardi has also coached the Oklahoma battery to a combined 19 All-America honors, 36 All-Region accolades and 75 All-Big 12 honors during her time in Norman.
The 2017 season featured one of the deepest staffs in program history as three pitchers threw at least 100 innings and all five members of the staff had ERAs at 2.08 or lower. The staff ERA was 1.55 on the season with 510 strikeouts in 482.2 innings and an opponents' average of .177.
Paige Parker continued her career with another All-American season and her third straight season being named Big 12 Pitcher of the Year after posting the lowest ERA (1.43) and best strikeout rate (8.72 per 7 IP) of her career. Junior Paige Lowary transferred from Missouri and was named an All-Big 12 First Team honoree as she emerged as a dominant relief pitcher. With 11 saves on the year, Lowary had more than any team previously recorded in OU history and she tied for fifth in NCAA single-season records. Freshman Mariah Lopez went 18-1 on the season with 109 strikeouts in 101 innings and threw a no-hitter. Fellow freshmen Nicole Mendes and Melanie Olmos rounded out the staff by giving up just two runs in 24.2 combined innings.
Jennifer Rocha, Associate Head Coach, University of Florida
Jennifer Rocha has made a name for herself as one of the top pitching instructors in the country. In her 12 seasons at Florida, Rocha has tutored seven All-American hurlers in Stephanie Brombacher, Stacey Nelson, Hannah Rogers, Lauren Haeger, Delanie Gourley, Aleshia Ocasio and Kelly Barnhill. In four of the last 10 years, the Gators have turned in the top team ERA in the country and in 2017 the staff posted a 0.81 ERA which is the second best in program history.
On June 15, 2017, Rocha was elevated to associate head coach.
Rocha was instrumental in the development of a pair of NFCA All-American hurlers in Delanie Gourley, Aleshia Ocasio and All-Southeast Region third team selection Kelly Barnhill. During the offseason the trio earned spots to play at the international level with Team USA (Gourley & Barnhill) and Puerto Rico (Ocasio).
In addition, Rocha was named the 2015 NFCA Assistant Coach of the Year. It was the first honor of its kind received by a UF coach in program history.
After tutoring both Nelson, Brombacher and Rogers to successful careers in Orange and Blue, Rocha led Haeger to becoming the best pitcher in the country in 2015.
Rocha made the trip to Gainesville with head coach Tim Walton, as the two have worked together for a decade. Under Rocha, the Wichita State pitching staff set several school records and posted an earned run average of under 2.00 in back-to-back seasons. Their 1.46 ERA in 2004 was the lowest in program history. The pitching staff struck out over 400 batters in each Rocha’s final two seasons, with one individual recording over 200. In 2005, the Shockers’ top pitchers registered records of 20-8 and 22-8 and each had a 1.52 ERA in 202.1 and 180.0 innings pitched.
JT Gasso, Assistant Coach, University of Oklahoma
JT Gasso has spent the past two seasons as Oklahoma's assistant coach. His primary responsibilities are focused on working with OU's outfielders and the Sooner offense.
His first two seasons in Norman couldn't have gone any better as the Sooners won both the 2016 and 2017 national championships. He and the OU staff were named the NFCA National Coaching Staff of the Year for their efforts in 2016 and 2017.
Sophomores Caleigh Clifton and Shay Knighten were each named second-team All-Americans, while Knighten was the Big 12 Player of the Year and Nicole Mendes was tabbed Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Along with Clifton, Knighten and Mendes, Falepolima Aviu, Nicole Pendley and Sydney Romero were given All-Region honors.
The Sooners ranked ninth in the country with 6.26 runs per game, 19th in slugging percentage (.471), 21st in on-base percentage (.393) and 22nd in average (.311). The team's 605 hits and 99 doubles were fourth most in program history, while the 438 runs and 916 total bases were fifth, the 172 extra-base hits were eighth and the 211 walks were 10th most.
Senior Erin Miller was named a second team All-American and became the first outfielder in league history to be named Big 12 Player of the Year. Shay Knighten was also tabbed a second-team All-American as she took home Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors. In addition, to Miller and Knighten, Kelsey Arnold, Caleigh Clifton, Lea Wodach, Sydney Romero and Fale Aviu all earned All-Region honors.
The team's batting average of .351 and hit total of 631 ranked second in both OU and Big 12 history; the 631 hits were 16th most in NCAA history. The offense posted the third most doubles (100) and total bases (967) in school history; the doubles total also third most in Big 12 annals. The on-base percentage of .427 ranked fourth in school and Big 12 annals, while the slugging percentage of .538, 435 runs scored, 183 extra-base hits and 14 sac flies were fifth highest in OU single season history; the runs scored ranked fifth in Big 12 history and slugging was eighth highest. OU also hit 70 home runs and walked 208 times, ranking 10th in school annals in each.
Maggie Livreri, Assistant Coach, University of Utah
Maggie Livreri is entering her seventh season on the University of Utah softball coaching staff and second as associate head coach.
Specializing in player development, Livreri has had a profound impact on the team's hitting. In 2017, Utah finished 16th nationally in team batting (.318), 17th in scoring at 5.9 runs per game and 22nd in on-base percentage (.393).
Two-time Pac-12 Player of the Year Hannah Flippen led the conference with a .424 batting average and also became Utah's first three-time NFCA All-American and four-time All Pac-12 honoree. She also finished atop the league with a .513 on-base percentage and second in slugging (.728). She also finished among the top 10 in the Pac-12 in runs, hits and runs batted in.
Fellow Ute Anissa Urtez, a three-time All Pac-12 selection, finished third in the conference with a .410 batting average. She also finished fifth in runs batted in and 10th in on-base percentage. For her efforts, Urtez was also named to the Mexican National Team.
Alyssa Barrera made the short list of finalists for the 2017 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award and finished among the top 10 in the Pac-12 in batting average and runs scored. She was also one of the five most difficult batters to strikeout in the conference on her way to All Pac-12 and All-Freshman Team honors.
Kate Harris, Director of Softball Operations, University of Alabama
Kate Harris enters her eighth season as the Alabama softball program's director of operations.
Harris coordinates all team travel, including processing expense reports, game contacts, monitors monthly financial budgets and reconciles Pcard purchases for sport oversight and the business office. She also organizes and facilitates all official and unofficial recruiting visits and handles each visiting teams needs throughout the fall and spring seasons. Harris monitors all activities for compliance with the University according to NCAA and SEC guidelines and logs weekly countable athletically related activities. She serves as the camp director for Patrick Murphy Softball School Summer camps and assists with other clinics throughout the fall and winter. Harris is the program's liaison with the official booster club of Alabama Softball, the Bama Softball Walk-off Club and helps tremendously with various fundraising projects. She is also very active in Alumni affairs, striving to maintain strong relationships and support with former Alabama student-athletes and staff.
Harris joined the Crimson Tide staff after serving as an assistant softball coach at her alma mater, Creighton. For two seasons, the Waterloo, Iowa, native worked with the outfielders and hitters in addition to her role with Bluejay softball camps. In her two seasons at Creighton, she helped guide the Bluejays to back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championships and two NCAA regional appearances.
Harris was a Bluejay outfielder from 2004-07, appearing in 122 games. She was a member of three NCAA Tournament teams, helping the Jays win the MVC tournament in 2004, 2005 and 2007. Creighton also won the 2007 MVC regular-season championship with Harris as a senior leader. She received Creighton softball's Most Inspirational Award following her sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
Harris' grandfather Tom Lind played basketball at the University of Iowa while her sister Molly played softball on the 1999 DePaul team that reached the Women's College World Series.
She graduated from Creighton in 2007, with a bachelor's degree in sociology and is currently pursuing a Master’s of Science degree in Human Environmental Sciences with a graduate certification in conflict management, negotiation and mediation from The University of Alabama.
Crissy Buck-Ziegler, Head Coach, California State University, Bakersfield
Crissy Buck-Ziegler heads into her sixth season as head coach at CSU Bakersfield in the fall of 2017.
Buck-Ziegler’s squad created CSUB history during the 2016 season by winning its first Western Athletic Conference Tournament in dramatic fashion and advancing to the NCAA Division I Regionals for the first time in program history. The Roadrunners traveled to Los Angeles for the Regional hosted by UCLA, but fell to the host Bruins and Fresno State.
CSUB’s Julea Cavazos and Sydney Raeber were named First Team All-Conference while Chris Hipa took home Second Team honors. After the ‘Runners won the WAC Tournament, Jo Larios, Amber Mills, and Raeber were named to the All-Tournament Team. Seven ‘Runners also earned Academic All-Conference honors after the season.
Outside of constantly working to improve and increase community involvement and the connection with CSUB softball alumni, Buck-Ziegler has also been instrumental in instigating improvements for the Roadrunner Softball Complex. During the offseason between the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Buck-Ziegler helped land a generous renovation gift from T.D. Whitton Construction, Inc. The owner of T.D. Whitton Construction, Marty Whitton, who has helped with field upgrades and improvements in the past, decided to donate the labor and laser leveling for the game infield, warning track and practice field.
Chris Malveaux is a 16-year coaching veteran. He was a head coach at McNeese State for four years and has held assistant coach appointments at McNeese, Louisiana and Bradley.
He served on Michael Lotief's staff from 2009-11 and returned in the summer of 2015 for two more seasons with the Ragin' Cajuns. Malveaux was part of the Louisiana coaching staff, along with Michael and Stefni Lotief, which was selected as the NFCA South Region Coaching Staff of the Year in 2010.
In between his Louisiana stints, he spent four seasons at Bradley, the last as associate head coach in 2015. The Braves set numerous offensive records during his tenure highlighted by school season records for runs (261) home runs (41), RBI (237), total bases (635), slugging percentage (.410) and walks (171) in 2014.
He got his start at McNeese State first as an assistant then as the Cowgirls' head coach from 2005-08. He led McNeese to four straight Southland Conference Tournament appearances during his tenure as head coach, winning it in 2005.
Jennifer McIntyre, Head Coach, University of Connecticut
Jen McIntyre, who has been part of coaching staffs that have made seven NCAA tournament appearances since 2001, completed her third season as head softball coach at the University of Connecticut in 2017.
Prior to her stint in Storrs, McIntyre served as the associate head coach at Boston University for the 2014 season. The Terriers won the Patriot League tournament and qualified for the NCAA regionals and posted a win against Louisville.
McIntyre joined the Terriers after spending the last 12 years (2002-13) on the Penn State coaching staff, including the last three as associate head coach. During her tenure, PSU reached six NCAA tournaments, highlighted by a regional final appearance in 2011.
Twenty-one of McIntyre's recruits at Penn State were named to All-Big Ten teams 33 times, while seven were placed on the All-Region squads with three becoming NFCA All-Americans. In 2013, senior outfielder Cassidy Bell became PSU's first-ever First Team All-American after batting a program-record .456 at the plate and smashing 20 home runs.
Taryne Mowatt, Assistant Coach, University of Arizona
Taryne Mowatt, the former Wildcat All-American pitcher and 2007 Women's College World Series MVP, returned to her alma mater, Arizona, in October of 2017 after two seasons as Ole Miss' pitching coach.
In two short years, she made a huge contribution in the recent turnaround of the Rebel's softball program. When she took over as pitching coach, she inherited a staff that totaled a 4.30 ERA in 2015. Her pitchers improved that mark to 3.26 in 2016, and shaved off even more in 2017 to 2.10, knocking off more than two runs (2.20) in just two seasons.
She was responsible for taking in two-time JUCO All-American Kaitlin Lee, and forming her into a competitive SEC pitcher. She did that and much more, as Lee went on to lead the SEC in innings pitched (249.2) and tie the school’s wins record of 23, set just a year prior by Madi Osias. Her efforts earned her NFCA All-South Region Third Team honors and All-SEC Second Team accolades.
Erin Thorpe, Head Coach, University of California, Davis
Erin Thorpe enters her third season at the helm of Aggie softball.
Thorpe, who posted 30-win seasons three times since 2011 as Boise State's first-ever softball coach, joined the Aggies after compiling an overall record of 173-150-1, including an impressive 53-15 (.779) home record over the past four seasons. Overall, her teams were 73-34 (.682) at home. Additionally, the Broncos twice finished in second place during the Western Athletic Conference regular season and were third in the WAC Tournament in just their second year. They have been members of the Mountain West Conference the past three seasons.
Thorpe was tabbed as Boise State's first-ever head softball coach when the Broncos added the sport in 2009. She was responsible for managing all aspects of the program, including recruiting, player development, fundraising, budget management, marketing and supervision of assistant coaches and staff.
The Broncos received several playing and academic awards during Thorpe's tenure. Outfielder Tara Glover became the program's first-ever National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American in 2012. Five others were named NFCA all-region, 18 received all-conference accolades, 23 were selected NFCA All-Academic, and 55 garnered academic all-conference awards.
Boise State also received its second perfect Academic Progress Rate score in as many seasons this past May and currently boasts the Mountain West's highest APR.
Lauren Lappin, Assistant Coach, University of Missouri–St. Louis
Lauren Lappin, a U.S. Olympian and recently-retired professional softball player, was named the program's first full-time assistant softball coach in September. In her first season with the Tritons, she was instrumental in UMSL finishing 42-15 and earning a the top seed in the Midwest Region, hosting a NCAA Regional round.
Lappin comes from Roosevelt University, where she spent four seasons with UMSL first-year head coach Amanda Scott.
Alongside Scott, Lappin was a vital part of the Roosevelt softball program since its inception in the spring of 2013. Her expertise and teaching helped the Lakers become one of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference's top offensive forces since their debut season, with Roosevelt finishing second in the league in team hitting in 2013 and fourth in 2014.
Lappin also brings extensive international experience from her time with the U.S. National Team from 2003-2010. She was a member of the 2008 silver medal-winning squad at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and helped the U.S. win the 2010 World Championship. She was also a 2004 alternate for the U.S. Olympic Team that competed in Athens and helped Team USA to World Cup Championships in 2007 and 2010 as well as gold at the 2007 Pan American Games.
Lappin played collegiately at powerhouse Stanford from 2003-2006 and was a two-time NFCA All-American and was twice named PAC 10 Defensive Player of the Year. She was also named to the 2006 Women’s College World Series All-Tournament Team.
The native of Anaheim, Calif., retired from a five-year career playing professional softball on the National Pro Fastpitch circuit in March of 2015. She last played professionally for the Pennsylvania Rebellion, an NPF team based in Washington, Pa., during the 2014 season. She helped the Rebellion compete with eventual champion USSSA Pride in championship series play to cap the Pennsylvania team's inaugural campaign.
Lappin previously played for the USSSA Pride, winning the NPF Championship in 2010 and teaming with the likes of fellow U.S. Olympians such as Jessica Mendoza, Natasha Watley, Caitlin Lowe and many others.
Mike Stith, Head Coach/Owner, Orange County Batbusters
Mike Stith has helped train and develop some of college softballs most prolific hitters over the last several years. Through focused strength training and a common sense approach to the mechanics of young aspiring hitters, Stith has helped guide many successful collegiate hitters such as Francesca Enea and Meagan Bush (Florida), Maddison Shipman (Tennessee), Ashley Lane and Sierra Romero (Michigan), Andrea Harrison-Gasso, Katie Schroeder, Gionna DiSalvatore and Alexis Bennett as well as USWNT members Delaney Spaulding and Hannah Flippen to current stars Amanda Lorenz (Florida), Sydney Romero and Fale Aviu (Oklahoma), Morganne Flores (Washington) and Alyssa Palomino and Dejah Mulipola (Arizona).
Stith has been an assistant and since 2014 head coach of the Orange County Batbusters for 15 years and has been an influence of some of the sports best athletes. Over the last 24 years Mike has been head coach or an assistant on 15 National Championship teams at different age groups.
Stith owns and works at Sports Training Complex (STC) in Anaheim, Calif. where he focuses on the athletes' strength training, hitting and fielding concepts that help prepare softball players of all levels to compete at their best. STC is one of the epicenters of the softball world in Southern California with players of all levels and all organizations come to learn the methods that has helped develop so many top collegiate players.
A former high school football coach, Stith uses old school practice organization and non-stop intensity to grow his players championship mindset and to get them to elevate their preparation and expectation of themselves to create some of our sports best athletes.