Now in her 18th season as a full-time coach, Melyssa Lombardi continues to guide the Sooner pitchers and catchers to even greater accomplishments. Lombardi was promoted to her current position of associate head coach in July 2007.
Drawing from her playing days as a catcher for the Sooners from 1995-96, Lombardi has lent her valuable experiences in tutoring the Oklahoma catchers and pitchers. During her tenure, the Sooners have won the 2000 and 2013 National Championships and have won 13 NCAA Regional Championships in 17 postseason appearances. In addition the Sooners have claimed six Big 12 regular season titles (1999, 2000, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014) and three conference tournament championships (2001, 2007, 2010).
As a member of the Sooners' coaching staff, Lombardi has been a part of two NFCA National Coaching Staffs of the Year (2000 and 2013), and seven Regional Coaching Staffs of the Year (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2012, 2013 and 2014).
A former all-conference catcher for the Sooners, Lombardi has also coached the Oklahoma battery to a combined 16 All-America honors, 30 All-Region accolades and 37 All-Big 12 selections during her time in Norman.
The 2014 season was one of Lombardi's best coaching jobs as the team's returning pitchers combined for three wins, one start, 13.2 innings and 13 strikeouts in 2013. Nevertheless, Stanford transfer Kelsey Stevens joined the squad and proceeded to tie for the nation's lead in wins with 38 to earn All-Region and All-Conference honors. In addition, sophomore catcher Whitney Ellis, who had to replace three-time All-American Jessica Shults, threw out a nation's best 61.5 percent (16 of 26) of would-be basestealers. For her efforts, Ellis also garnered regional and conference accolades.
Keilani Ricketts and Michelle Gascoigne combined to give the Sooners one of their most dominant seasons ever in 2013. Ricketts went 35-1 and Gascoigne was 18-3, while each had an ERA under 1.23 and held opponents’ batting averages under .160. Ricketts threw 16 shutouts, Gascoigne threw eight and the pair combined on three more.
As a team, the Sooners led the country in earned run average at 1.16, the lowest by a staff since Florida’s 0.69 mark in 2009. It was also the second year in a row that OU boasted the country’s top ERA, the first time a program led in back-to-back years since 2005-06.
Ricketts was named the USA Softball Player of the Year for the second year in a row, the third player in history to win multiple honors. She ranked second in the nation in shutouts (16), third in wins (35) and fifth in hits allowed per seven innings (3.61). She threw a school record six no-hitters during the season, including in each of her first two starts, and her record of 35-1 went down as tied for the fourth-best winning percentage in a single-season in NCAA history.
A four-time All-American, Ricketts finished her career ranking ninth in NCAA history in appearances (192) and wins (133), 10th in games started as a pitcher (163), 11th in strikeouts (1605) and 13th in strikeouts per seven innings (10.46).
Gascoigne was named second-team All-Region and second-team All-Big 12 as she led the nation with a 0.88 earned run average, the lowest by any pitcher in the country since 2009. She finished her career with the best winning percentage in program history at .879 while also ranking in the top 10 in strikeouts (sixth), appearances (ninth), starts (10th), shutouts (10th) and wins (10th).
The 2012 season saw Lombardi's battery combine for one of her most successful seasons at OU as Keilani Ricketts and Jessica Shults both garnered first-team All-America honors. The duo also received first team NFCA All-Region honors as Ricketts set the program's single-season strikeouts record with 457 strikeouts. Ricketts, who was named the USA Softball Player of the Year, finished the year second nationally in strikeouts (457), strikeouts per seven innings (11.0), ERA (1.08) and wins (37), and she was third in shutouts (15).
The 2007 season was one of the most successful for the OU battery. The team posted a 55-8 overall record and Lauren Eckermann earned Big 12 Pitcher of the Year honors. Eckermann went on to be named an All-American and tied the school record for most wins in a season with 37. In 2008, pitcher D.J. Mathis and Vandever earned All-Midwest Region and All-Big 12 honors. Mathis also earned second team All-America honors and ranked among the nation's best in several NCAA categories. Vandever and Mathis earned all-Big 12 honors in 2009 and were named to the NFCA All-Central Region team.
In 2004, Lombardi may have had her biggest challenge since joining the OU staff. The pitching coach had to hold together a staff that was missing its No. 1 and No. 2 pitcher for a combined total of 51 games. Despite the shortage of arms, the Sooners were the third best staff (in terms of ERA) in the Big 12. Lombardi's protégé Kami Keiter turned it up another notch during the postseason when she garnered All-Big 12 Tournament and Region I Championship MVP honors.
In 2003, Lombardi guided Keiter out of the shadows of former Sooner great Jennifer Stewart and into stardom. In just her second collegiate season, Keiter led the Big 12 in wins (47) and was ranked in the NCAA top 15 in two pitching categories. The Sooner pitching staff combined for an ERA of 1.40, which ranked as the 18th best in the NCAA.