June 29, 1999

NORMAN, Okla. - The National Fastpitch Coaches Association has announced that the University of Oklahoma softball coaching staff has been named the 1999 Midwest Region Coaching Staff of the Year.

In her fifth season at OU, head coach Patty Gasso, along with assistants Melyssa Panzer and Tim Walton, led the Sooners to the 1999 Big 12 Conference regular-season championship with an 11-3 record. Gasso, who was named the 1999 Big 12 Coach of the Year, also won the regular-season championship in 1996, the inaugural year of the Big 12.

"It is an honor to be selected out of the great pool of coaches in the Midwest region," Gasso said. "It is nice to be able to recognize my assistant coaches because of all of the hard work they have to do every day. This is the best staff I have ever had in my career. It is also nice to get a pat on the back for our hard work. This was voted on by my peers and that means so much more to me because they are acknowledging the job we do."

Panzer, who played under Gasso in 1995 and 1996, completed her second year as a full-time assistant and her third year on the OU coaching staff. Walton, who was a Sooner baseball pitcher in 1994 and 1995, finished his first season as a full-time assistant at OU. He previously served as an assistant baseball coach at Oral Roberts University.

This season, OU finished with a 40-16 overall record and made it to the NCAA regional playoffs for the sixth straight year. Gasso, who is just one win shy of 400 victories as a head coach, has compiled an amazing 237-93 career record at OU and has led the Sooners to the NCAA regional playoffs in all five seasons. The 237 victories rank second on the all-time wins list at OU. Gasso needs 20 more victories to pass Marita Hynes (256-189) on the all-time list, a feat she should accomplish next year.

Since the NFCA/USA Today Top 25 Poll started, Gasso's teams have been ranked in the top 25 every week, and in her 10 year career, none of her teams have finished lower than second in conference play.