For the second time in four seasons, John Tschida and his St. Thomas softball staff have been honored as Regional Staff of the Year for 2019 by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA).
Jim Tschida, Brad Horstman, Tim Gormley, Erica Wilson and Megan DuPuis were on the St. Thomas coaching staff again this season.
An NFCA Hall of Fame coach, a two-time National Coach of the Year and a 13-time MIAC Coach of the year at two universities, John Tschida has the best winning percentage in NCAA softball history -- active or current coaches. His .843 clip (974-183) includes his first six seasons at St. Mary's and the last 19 with the Purple.
Tschida has guided the Tommies to two NCAA championships and five other College World Series appearances in his 19-year era here. He's on pace as early as 2020 to join a select group of two dozen active coaches at all NCAA levels to reach 1,000 wins.
St. Thomas (43-7) reached 40 victories for the 12th time in the last 16 seasons. That feat includes 35 or more wins each of the last 16 years, and 30 or more wins for each of the last 20 seasons. This year's team finished No. 7 in the final NFCA Division III rankings -- the 15th time in the last 16 seasons that St. Thomas has been ranked in the final 25 poll.
Tschida's 2019 team closed out a terrific season with two one-run losses at the eight-team College World Series, May 23-27. After an 8-0 start to the postseason, the Toms lost 2-1 to Eastern Connecticut State and 3-2 in 11 innings to Williams (Mass.) in the national finals to share seventh place.
The Toms won the conference regular-season titles for the 16th time in Tschida's 19 seasons, as they won 16 of their last 17 MIAC contests. They went on to claim the league playoff crown -- the program's 14th in the event's 16-year history.
St. Thomas committed just 28 errors in 50 games (1,430 chances) to set a school record for fewest in program history. Its .981 fielding percentage ranked among the five best among all 989 NCAA softball teams.
The Tommies had six All-MIAC honorees, led by All-America pitcher Kierstin Anderson-Glass; 2B Melissa Barry; MIAC Player of the Year and All-Region 3B Elise Barnes; All-Region utility player Chase Shortly; and All-Region OF Dana Connelly. Anderson-Glass also was voted to the CoSIDA Academic All-America team and was named conference Pitcher of the Year.
Barry (226) and Shortly (207) joined a select list of 18 MIAC players to surpass 200 career hits.
St. Thomas had 13 seniors close out their careers, and all 13 have jobs lined up or will attend graduate school. The Toms have 11 key contributors who each have cumulative grade-point averages of 3.50 or better.
The Tommies expect as many as 20 players back, led by starters Anderson-Glass; Barnes; outfielders Sam Birling and Jaylen Heller; P-DP Megan Baniecke; and 2019 Preseason All-America pitcher Hayley Dunning, who missed most of last season with an injury.