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Ducks Hire Melyssa Lombardi as Softball Head Coach

EUGENE, Ore. - University of Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens announced Monday that University of Oklahoma associate head coach Melyssa Lombardi has been named head softball coach for the Ducks.

Posted: Jul 9, 2018 5:43 PM

Lombardi recently completed her 21st year on the staff of Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso, including the last 11 seasons as associate head coach.

Lombardi will be officially introduced as the Ducks’ head coach in a press conference on Monday, July 16, at Jane Sanders Stadium. She is in Irvine, Calif., to coach USA Softball at the International Cup.

“We are thrilled to welcome Melyssa, her husband, John, and her son, Gianni, to the Oregon family,” said Mullens. “Melyssa Lombardi is one of the brightest minds in college softball and has played a key role in Oklahoma’s sustained success over the last 21 years.

“Her commitment to the student-athlete experience and building a championship culture were the ideal fit with our program. With the best softball stadium in the nation, the most passionate fan base and outstanding student-athletes, Melyssa will provide the leadership required to continue the success of Oregon softball. We look forward to a great future for Oregon softball.”

Lombardi, the 2017 Division I assistant softball coach of the year, has been directly responsible for the Oklahoma pitchers and catchers during a tremendously successful tenure in Norman that saw the Sooners win four national championships, including two of the last three, and a total of 15 Big 12 regular season or postseason tournament titles.

Oklahoma has played in the postseason every year during Lombardi’s 21 seasons, advancing to the Women’s College World Series (WCWS) 12 times as well as 17 Super Regionals. The Sooners made Super Regionals each of the last nine seasons, and the WCWS seven times in the past eight seasons.

“I would like to thank President Michael Schill, athletic director Rob Mullens and deputy athletic director Lisa Peterson for this great opportunity,” said Lombardi. “I am both honored and humbled to be the head coach at the University of Oregon. When I stepped on campus, I could feel the college town environment and unbelievable support system across the entire campus community.”

Under Lombardi’s guidance, the Sooner pitchers led the nation in 2018 with a team ERA of 1.12, paced by four-time Big 12 pitcher of the year Paige Parker, who was a finalist for USA Softball collegiate player of the year, and Paige Lowary, who led all active pitchers in the nation in career saves and was the first overall selection in the National Pro Fastpitch Draft.

A former all-conference catcher for the Sooners, Lombardi coached the Oklahoma battery to a combined 20 all-America honors, 37 all-Region accolades and 77 all-Big 12 honors over her 21 seasons at OU.

Lombardi will take over an Oregon team that went 53-10 and was the No. 1 overall seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The Ducks were fifth nationally with a 1.38 team ERA, and will return in the circle first-team all-American and Pac-12 pitcher of the year Megan Kleist, second-team all-American Miranda Elish and 2017 NFCA national freshman of the year finalist Maggie Balint. Offensively, Oregon was seventh in the nation in batting average with a mark of .322.

“With our state of the art softball stadium, endless resources for the student-athletes and tremendous fan base, I couldn’t be more excited to get on the field and get to work with our players,” said Lombardi. “We will continue to grow the championship culture while enhancing the student-athlete experience. It is our mission that every aspect of this program will make all Oregon Duck fans proud.”

Lombardi also developed two-time USA Softball player of the year Keilani Ricketts, a four-time all-American who led the Sooners to the 2013 national title while finishing 35-1 and throwing six no-hitters. Ricketts finished her career in the NCAA top 12 in multiple categories, including ninth with 133 career victories and 11th with 1,605 career strikeouts.

In addition to being named the nation’s top assistant in 2017, Lombardi has been a part of four NFCA national coaching staffs of the year (2000, 2013, 2016 and 2017), and 11 regional coaching staffs of the year (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018).

“A head coach could not have asked for a more loyal and valuable assistant than Missy Lombardi,” said Gasso. “We have been side by side in the trenches and have shared 17 Big-12 Championships and four national championship moments together. But more than that, we shared ‘life’ together both on and off the field. That said, she is more than ready to be a head coach.

“She represents everything that is good about our sport and knows what it takes to compete at a championship level. We are proud of what she has accomplished and the role our program has played in her preparation. It’s time for this next chapter in her career and she leaves with more gratitude than we can put into words. The OU coaching tree just went to another level, and we give our very best wishes and love to both her and her family as they embark on this new journey.”

The Glendale, Ariz., native ended her two-year Sooner playing career with a spectacular senior season in 1996, when she hit .345 to lead OU during its Big 12 Conference championship run.

She was also instrumental in helping Jill Most and Jennifer Jaime record two of the best pitching seasons in school history. Lombardi caught all three of Most's wins in OU's conference tournament games and was named to the all-tournament team after going 3-for-8 (.375) at the plate with a triple, four RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base.

Lombardi graduated from Oklahoma in 1997 with a degree in health and sports science. She and her husband, John, were married on Nov. 10, 2000. The couple has one son, Gianni Thomas.

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