Miss. - Head coach Patti Gerckens and assistant coaches Jessica Millsap,
Allison May, Nichole Willis and Sara Robinson of 2011 NCAA Division II National
Champion No. 1 UC San Diego have been named as the National Fastpitch Coaches
Association Division II National Coaching Staff of the Year, it was announced
The Tritons put together their best
season in program history, going 45-13 overall and 22-9 in the California
Collegiate Athletic Association to clinch the first regular-season league title
in school history. The 45 wins by the 2011 team is a new school record
and the .775 winning percentage also broke the program's previous top mark at
the Division II level.
"I can't say enough about my coaching
staff," said Gerckens. "They are there every day. They give everything they've
got. They're spending extra hours at the field and will do anything that needs
to be done."
Gerckens also earned 2011 CCAA Coach
of the Year, the second of her storied career. In 19 seasons at UCSD, Gerckens'
squads have won 30 or games seven times and have finished with a winning record
in 12 of those years.
After being picked to finish fifth in
the CCAA Preseason Coaches' Poll, the Tritons started the season 16-2 and jumped
into the NFCA Top 25 at No. 11 on February 16. UCSD would remain ranked for all
13 weeks during the regular season, including seven weeks in the top ten.
The Tritons earned the No. 1 overall
seed in the West Region for the NCAA Tournament and blazed through the Regionals
and Super Regionals with a 5-0 record, earning the program's first appearance
in the NCAA Division II Women's Softball Championship Finals in Salem, Va.
It was more of the same for UCSD in
the Finals, as the Tritons took down No. 25 C.W. Post, No. 14 Minnesota
State-Mankato and No. 1 Alabama-Huntsville en route to a national championship.
Junior right hander Camille Gaito (35-4) pitched every inning for UCSD in the NCAA
Tournament, putting together a perfect 9-0 record on her way to earning Most
Outstanding Player of the Finals.
UCSD ended the year as the No. 1 team
in the NFCA Top 25 for the first time in school history.
"UCSD has high expectations. The
coaching staff expects our team to play well and play to win," said Gerckens.
It was the second year at UCSD for
Coach Millsap after spending three years as head assistant at Biola University.
Primarily working with Triton pitchers and outfielders, Millsap guided a Triton
pitching staff that had the 8th-lowest ERA (1.44) in the nation and
the lowest ERA in the CCAA. Moreover, UCSD regular starting outfielders Kris Lesovsky, Katrin Gabriel and Taylor Sepulveda all boasted a perfect 1.000
Robinson entered her fourth season on
Gerckens' staff in 2011. She played for Gerckens at UCSD between 2004-07, appearing
in a total of 97 games and totaling a .989 fielding percentage at first base. She
also serves as the Assistant Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Development and Compliance in the
UCSD Athletics Department, overseeing special projects and compliance affairs.
May and Willis were the new additions
to Gerckens' 2011 staff, as each put their mark on the UCSD program in their
inaugural season in the Triton dugout.
May returned to her alma mater as an
assistant coach after working as an administrative and human resources
assistant in El Segundo for a short time. While assisting Millsap with the
outfield, May was the go-to for Triton base runners, guiding the team to 85
steals on 111 attempts (.766), third-best in the CCAA. The Manhattan Beach,
Calif. native was a key member of UCSD's 2009 squad that advanced to the NCAA
Division II West Regional and she sits in third place in UCSD annals for career
Gerckens brought Willis to La Jolla
in the summer of 2010 after Willis inquired about helping coach the Tritons
while serving as the varsity coach at Clovis High School in Fresno. An
All-American catcher at Fresno State between 2004-07, Willis shared her
knowledge of life behind the plate with freshmen catchers Charly Swanberg and
Caitlin Brown, two critical components of the Tritons' national championship
run. In addition, Willis assisted Gerckens with Triton hitters in 2011, helping
UCSD to a .324 batting average and 19 RBI during the NCAA Division II
"They are a great group of coaches
and even better people," remarked Gerckens about her staff.