Kirk Walker has been a coach at the NCAA Division I level for more than 20 years. Since his tenure as head softball coach at Oregon State University began in 1995, Walker has accumulated more wins than any other coach in program history. He led the Beavers to eight NCAA tournaments between 1995 and 2006, including the program's first-ever Women's College World Series appearance in 2006. Walker was named the 1999 and 2005 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, the same years his OSU softball staff was named the Speedline/NFCA Pacific Region Coaching Staff of the Year. Walker was a member of the USA Softball National Team coaches pool through the 2004 Olympics. He has served on the executive board of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association since 2003.
Walker came to Oregon State after spending 11 seasons at national powerhouse UCLA as an assistant coach, where he helped lead the Bruins to six NCAA titles and 10 appearances in the College World Series. In the off-season, he also has served as the head coach of the California Commotion, which won the women's major fastpitch national title four consecutive years from 1996 to 1999. He currently resides in Wilsonville, Oregon.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
Louie Berndt was promoted to associate head coach of the Florida State softball program in 2004. First hired as an assistant in 1989, Berndt served one year before becoming head coach at Marshall University. Six years later she returned to Florida State. She has helped lead the Seminoles to seven straight NCAA regional tournaments, including six regional finals and two Women's College World Series appearances from 1999 to 2006. At Marshall, Berndt guided the then-reinstated program to its first-ever Southern Conference Tournament title and first NCAA tournament. She was named the 1996 Southern Conference Coach of the Year. Berndt was a two-time All-American at Western Michigan University.
Carol Bruggeman has been associate head coach at Louisville since 2005. She was an integral member of the 2006 BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year, helping guide the Cardinals to a program-best 45-11 record, the regular-season conference title, their first national ranking, and their first appearance in an NCAA regional final. Bruggeman spent 12 years at Purdue, starting the program in 1994 and compiling a 380-304-2 career record. Bruggeman served as an assistant coach at Michigan from 1989 to 1993, during which time the Wolverines won the Big Ten championship and advanced to the NCAA tournament both seasons. Bruggeman began her coaching career as graduate assistant at her alma mater Iowa, where she earned All-Big Ten, All-Mideast Region, and Academic All-America honors as an infielder. She was elected president of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association in 2006.
Yvette Girouard has headed up the Louisiana State University softball program since 2000. She ranks fifth all-time on the NCAA Division I lists for wins and winning percentage, and in 2005 she became the sixth coach in NCAA history to record her 1,000th career victory. Girouard made a clean sweep of the three major Southeastern Conference titles (SEC Western Division, SEC overall, and SEC tournament) in three of her first five seasons as a Tiger, becoming the first coach in league history to lead a team to back-to-back tournament championships. During her two decades as head coach at University of Louisiana at Lafayette (then Southwestern Louisiana), she was named the National Coach of the Year in 1990 and 1993. Girouard was inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Louisiana Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2002.
Michelle Gromacki assumed the role of head coach of her alma mater, Cal State Fullerton, in 1999. From 2000 to 2003, she guided her teams to four consecutive Big West Conference championships, bringing the program's total to seven league crowns overall—more than any other school in the history of the conference. The Titans reached the NCAA regional tournament in each of Gromacki's first four seasons and finished in the top 20 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's poll in four of her first six seasons. She has been head coach on Speedline/NFCA West Region Coaching Staff of the Year three times and was an assistant coach for the USA Blue Team in 2001 and the U.S. Elite National Team in 2002 to 2004. As a player, Gromacki helped lead the Titans to a combined 170-19-1 overall record from 1985 to 1987 and to the 1986 NCAA National Championship.
Deanna Gumpf has been the head coach of Notre Dame's softball program since 2002 after serving as an assistant since 1998. From 2002 to 2006, the Irish claimed the BIG EAST Conference regular-season crown four times and the BIG EAST Conference tournament championship three times, and posted a 219-90 record. During that same period, six players earned All-America honors, 24 earned all-BIG EAST recognition, and two were named academic All-America. Gumpf notched her 100th career victory in 2004, reaching the plateau faster than any previous Irish head coach. As an assistant, Gumpf helped the Notre Dame pitching staff post a 0.89 team ERA in 2001, good for seventh in the nation. Gumpf and her staff were named the conference coaching staff of the year in 2002 and 2004.
Carol Hutchins, the most victorious coach in Michigan Athletics history, has been head coach of the Wolverines softball program since 1985. In 2005, the Maize and Blue became the first program east of the Mississippi River to claim the NCAA championship, and Hutchins was chosen as one of the pool of coaches for USA Softball's Summer Tour. After helping select both the National and Elite Teams for USA Softball in 2005, Hutchins was named head coach of the Elite Team at the Canada Cup and assistant coach of the National Team at the Japan Cup. Hutchins ranks among the top 10 NCAA Division I active coaches in career wins and winning percentage. She was named the 1995 NFCA National Coach of the Year and was a member of the 2005 Speedline/NFCA National Coaching Staff of the Year. Her teams have earned 10 Big Ten Conference regular season titles, seven Big Ten Conference tournament championships, and 13 NCAA tournament appearances, including eight trips to the NCAA Women's College World Series.
Kelly Inouye-Perez became the third head coach in UCLA history on January 1, 2007, after spending 17 years in the dugout as a player, assistant coach, and assistant head coach. Inouye-Perez worked with pitchers and catchers since 1993, when she graduated with a psychology degree after leading the Bruins to three NCAA titles (1989, 1990, and 1992) from behind the plate. The three-time All-Pac-10 selection and member of the 1992 Women's College World Series all-tournament team also was on four national championship teams during her Amateur Softball Association career, and she competed internationally in the Pan American Games in Japan in 1985 and in Peru in 1987.
Jay Miller has been Mississippi State University's head softball coach since 2002, leading the Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament in his first three seasons. In 2005, he became one of only 14 active Division I coaches to reach the 800-victory milestone. Previously, Miller spent 15 seasons as the head coach at Missouri, where he guided teams to five NCAA tournament appearances, three conference titles, and two trips to the Women's College World Series. Miller is a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American committee and a lead instructor for the NFCA Coaches College. He also was a member of the national team selection committee that formed the team that won gold in the first-ever softball competition in the Olympic Games in 1996.
Teena Murray, director of Olympic sports performance, is in her third year at thee University of Louisville. She oversees the strength, conditioning, and performance nutrition programs for all U of L Olympic sports, and works directly with women's soccer, women's basketball, and softball. Murray was named as director of strength and conditioning for the United States Women's Ice Hockey Team in 2006. She also has worked as a consultant for the NHL's Florida Panthers and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the Hartford Wolfpack of the American Hockey League, and USA Hockey. Prior to Louisville, Murray was an assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of Connecticut for four years and at Cornell University for four years. She is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and United States Weightlifting.
Jennifer Ogee has been an assistant coach at Nebraska since 2001, serving as the hitting coach, working with the catchers and infielders, and coordinating Nebraska's recruiting efforts. From 2002 to 2006, the Cornhuskers' offensive productivity has seen marked improvement and unprecedented consistency in almost every statistical category, and NU advanced to the Women's College World Series in 2002. Formerly Jennifer Cline, Ogee spent four years as an assistant coach at her alma mater, the University of Washington, helping the Huskies advanced to the NCAA College World Series every year. Ogee was the first catcher in UW history, earning All-American and All-WCWS honors and leading the team to a runner-up title in 1996.
Kim Sowder became head coach at Long Beach State following the 2006 season after serving 11 years as assistant and associate coach. Working with hitting and defense, Sowder helped the 49ers post the four highest team batting averages in the history of the program in the 1990s. The 49ers also led the Big West Conference in team fielding percentage for three straight seasons. The former All-American shortstop (1989 to 1992) was inducted into the Long Beach State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998. Sowder earned her undergraduate degree in marketing in 1993 and then went into the coaching ranks, serving two years as an assistant coach at Pacific before returning to her alma mater.
Heather Tarr was named head coach at her alma mater, Washington, in 2004 after a six-year stint at Pacific as an assistant and then associate head coach. The Huskies were 70-47 and advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals in her first two years at the helm. In her tenure at Pacific, she was part of the 2001 NFCA West Region Coaching Staff of the Year after guiding the Tigers to within one win of the Women's College World Series and a No. 18 final national ranking. Tarr joined Pacific prior to the 1999 season after an outstanding playing career as a Husky. A four-year letterwinner, Tarr helped lead UW to a second place finish at the Women's College World Series in 1996 and a third place finish in 1997.
Michelle Venturella became the first associate head coach in Iowa softball history in 2004. In her first year, Venturella helped the Hawkeyes compile a 44-15 record and win the Big Ten regular season and tournament championships. As a player, Venturella was one of the best catchers in the country, holding a spot on the U.S. National Team from 1995 to 2000. Throughout her career with USA Softball, she earned four gold medals, including Olympic gold in 2000. She also helped the United States to gold at the 1998 World Championships, and she was an alternate on the 1996 Olympic team. A 1996 graduate of Indiana University, Venturella still ranks among its top five in eight offensive categories and remains Indiana's all-time leader in RBIs and walks.
Margie Wright was the first softball coach to amass 1,000 NCAA Division I career victories, 950 of which have come at Fresno State University. Her remarkable 27-year career includes a national title, six more top-three finishes, 10 regional championships, and 16 conference ttitles. She has guided the Bulldogs to 10 of the programs 12 NCAA Women's College World Series appearances. Wright also led the USA Softball National Team to a gold medal at the 1998 ISF World Championships. Wright has coached 13 Olympians, 51 All-Americans, 15 academic All-Americans, and two NCAA Top VIII Award Winners. She has been named National Coach of the Year once, Regional Coach of the Year seven times, and West Coast Conference Coach of the Year eight times. Wright is a member of the NFCA Hall of Fame and the Women's Sports Foundation International Hall of Fame.