June 25, 2014
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The University of Michigan softball coaching staff, led by head coach Carol Hutchins, is the 2014 National Fastpitch Coaches Association Great Lakes Region Coaching Staff of the Year as announced by the NFCA on Wednesday (June 25).
This marks the second award in a row for the group of Hutchins, associate head coach Bonnie Tholl, assistant coach Jennifer Brundage and volunteer assistant coach Nikki Nemitz, along with director of operations Erin McLaughlin. Overall, a Hutchins-led staff has now won 11 Great Lakes Region staff of the year awards (1998-2002, 2004-05, 2008-10, 2013-14), including 10 for the trio of Hutchins, Tholl and Brundage (all years except 1998).
In 2014, the Wolverines finished 10th in the nation in the NFCA Coaches Poll after compiling a record of 47-15. Michigan won its seventh consecutive Big Ten crown -- and 17th overall -- with a record of 18-5 in league play. The Wolverines played a NCAA Regional on the road for just the fourth time and came away with a thrilling Tempe Regional title. Faced with beating No. 4 Arizona State twice in one day to win the regional in the double-elimination format, the Wolverines won game one, 4-3, and then came from behind in the seventh inning of game two on back-to-back home runs to win, 5-4. The victory was sealed by a game-saving, home run-robbing catch by senior Lyndsay Doyle (Channahon, Ill./Minooka Community).
Michigan had two NFCA All-Americans this season, with sophomore Sierra Romero (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta) named to the first team, and junior Haylie Wagner (Orange, Calif./El Modena) voted to the second team.
Romero led U-M's All-Big Ten performers, earning her second straight Player of the Year award. She was joined on the first team by seniors Doyle (unanimous) and Nicole Sappingfield (Norco, Calif./Norco). Second team performers included Wagner, freshman Megan Betsa (McDonough, Ga./Union Grove), senior Taylor Hasselbach (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston) and junior Lauren Sweet (Corona, Calif./Santiago).
Hutchins just completed her 30th season guiding the Wolverines and has compiled a career record of 1,372-463-4. She currently has the second-most wins among active coaches, trailing only Arizona's Mike Candrea (1,387). The Hall of Famer became the first coach to amass 500 Big Ten wins when the Wolverines dispatched of Ohio State, 10-0, on April 6.
Tholl and Brundage have been Hutchins' primary assistants for the past 16 years, with Tholl recently completing her 21st season with the Wolverines. She was an All-Big Ten first team performer all four years during her Michigan playing career (1988-1991), the first player to do so. Brundage has served as the staff pitching coach since coming aboard in 1999 following a standout career at UCLA. She went on to win a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics with Team USA. Nemitz just completed her third season as the volunteer assistant. She returned to her alma mater in 2012 following an All-America career.
NFCA Coaching Staff of the Year Honorees
National Staff of the Year - Kentucky
Central Region - Oklahoma
Great Lakes - MICHIGAN
Mid-Atlantic - Notre Dame
Mideast - Tulsa
Midwest - Nebraska
Northeast - James Madison
Pacific - Oregon
South - Alabama
Southeast - Kentucky
West - UCLA
Contact: Michael Kasiborski