NORMAN – Oklahoma softball associate head coach Melyssa Lombardi has been named the 2017 Easton/NFCA Division I Assistant Coach of the Year, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association announced Monday afternoon.
The 2017 season marked the 20th for Lombardi as pitching coach for the Sooners and featured one of the deepest staffs in program history. 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 (fourth most in program history) in 482.2 innings and an opponents' average of .177 (eighth lowest at OU).
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. She posted a 26-5 record with six shutouts while holding opponents to a .179 average in a team-high 210.1 innings.
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. In 146.2 innings, Lowary went 16-3 on the season with 122 strikeouts to just 33 walks with an opponents’ average of .163.
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.
Earlier this season, Lombardi was part of the NFCA National Coaching Staff of the Year along with head coach Patty Gasso, assistant coach J.T. Gasso and volunteer assistant coach Andrea Gasso.
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 and four conference tournament championships.
As a member of the Sooners' coaching staff, Lombardi has been a part of four NFCA National Coaching Staffs of the Year (including each of the last two seasons) and 10 Regional Coaching Staffs of the Year (including each of the last six seasons).
The winners of the NFCA Assistant Coach of the Year awards were nominated by their NFCA member head coach and selected by a panel of their peers on the NFCA Awards Committee.