Sandy Pearsall just completed her 15th season as the head coach of the University of Louisville softball program. After building the program from scratch in 2000, Pearsall has guided the Cardinals to six conference championships, 11 consecutive NCAA regional appearances and served as a host site in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Pearsall's Cardinals most recent successes include capturing the 2014 American Athletic Conference tournament title and securing the program's 11th straight NCAA tournament bid. Also in 2014,Maryssa Becker was named to the 2014 National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I All-Central Region second team as a pitcher/utility player. She became the first Louisville freshman to earn all-region honors since Keola Calderon was named to the South Region second team in 2000, the program's inaugural season. Additionally, Becker was named one of the top 25 finalists for the inaugural National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I National Freshman of the Year trophy
Five Cardinals earned American All-Conference honors: seniors Katie Keller and Taner Fowler were named to the first team while juniors Whitney Arion and Kayla Soles and freshman Maryssa Becker were selected to the second team.
In the 2013 season, Pearsall led the Cardinals to a 47-13 overall record, marking the eighth time Louisville has recorded 40 or more wins and the 10th straight season with 30 or more wins. The Cards reached several milestones in 2013 including setting new single season records for runs (390) and home runs (63). Louisville also tied program highs in the national coaches polls, appearing at No. 7 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and No. 8 in the USA Today/NFCA poll - they went on to spend four weeks among the nation's top 10. Louisville also posted its first win over a top-ranked team when it defeated No. 1 Oklahoma 5-1 in Norman and remained one of only four teams to beat the eventual national champion.
On April 28, 2013, the Cardinals defeated Georgetown10-1 to mark head coach Sandy Pearsall's 800th career victory.
Taking the Cards to New Heights
Pearsall helped guide the 2012 Cards to a program-best 55-5 record while capturing the BIG EAST regular season and tournament titles. UofL spent the majority of the season ranked in the top 10 of the ESPN.com/USA Softball and USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association coaches' polls, appearing as high as Nos. 7 and 9 respectively. The season culminated with the Cards earning a No. 15 overall seed in the NCAA tournament and serving as host for the NCAA Regionals.
With the team's success came individual accolades. Taner Fowler and Tori Collins earned NFCA All-America honors, while five Cardinals were selected to the All-Great Lake Region teams and a program-best nine players earned All-BIG EAST honors. Pearsall, Carol Bruggeman and Courtney Scott were voted the 2012 BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year and the NFCA Great Lakes Region Coaching Staff of the Year.
On May 5, 2012, the Cards posted an 8-4 win over St. John's to mark the University of Louisville's 500th win under head coach Sandy Pearsall since its inaugural season in 2000.
Building Blocks of Success...
The 2012 season's success came on the heels of an injury-plagued 2011 campaign in which the Cards posted a 38-20 record. In that year, Louisville finished runner-up in the BIG EAST Conference tournament and hosted an NCAA regional for the second time in three years. The Cardinals accomplished those feats with four freshmen and seven underclassment in the starting lineup after an injury-plagued season.
In 2010, the Cards posted a 41-19 overall record and advanced to the finals of their seventh NCAA regional but fell to eventual Women's College World Series participant Tennessee in Knoxville. Louisville was runner-up in the 2010 BIG EAST Conference championship behind performances from 2010 BIG EAST Player of the Year Chelsea Bemis and two-time All-America selection Melissa Roth.
The 2009 season brought a record-setting 48-11 overall record and was a mainstay in the top 25 rankings, reaching as high as No. 14 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and USA Softball polls. The Cards also notched their sixth straight NCAA regional appearance and were selected to host a regional for the first time in school history.
The Cardinals added two more players to All-America status when catcher Melissa Roth was named to the NFCA second team and pitcher Kristen Wadwell earned third team honors. Roth was also named BIG EAST Player of the Year and was selected to the USA Softball Pan American Qualifier team.
Success at Louisville has continued to build under Pearsall's watch. In 2007, the Cardinals won the BIG EAST Conference tournament and earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament as Louisville made its fourth straight NCAA appearance.
In 2006, the Cards had a breakout season, earning an NCAA at-large bid and advanced to the regional finals for the first time in school history. UofL also made its first appearance in the national rankings and finished the season at No. 17 in the NFCA poll. UofL also posted a program-best 45-11 overall record and won the BIG EAST regular season with a 19-3 record while winning BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year along with associate coach Carol Bruggeman and assistant Karen Marr.
Pearsall posted her 500th career win on May 6, 2006 when the Cardinals defeated Rutgers 3-0. This is a distinctive mark in any career, but especially one which has seen the beginning of two softball programs.
In 2005, the Cardinals set a new school record with 43 overall wins. They closed their stay in Conference USA with a 20-4 league tally and the regular season title. Louisville earned its second consecutive at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The 2005 success improved upon the Cards' 2004 breakout season in which they had set a record with 41 overall wins and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament in only their fifth year as a program.
In the beginning...
Pearsall was tabbed to start the softball program at the University of Louisville and brought with her both head coaching experience and program building expertise. She helped christen UofL's Ulmer Stadium with a winning season and earned 2000 Conference USA Coach of the Year honors along the way. Louisville followed with a 40-26 campaign in 2001.
Award Winning Players on the Field...
Under Pearsall's guidance, the Cardinals have placed 87 selections to league teams (27 All-Conference USA/55 BIG EAST, 5 American Athletic Conference), including two Players of the Year (Melissa Roth -2009, Chelsea Bemis - 2010), two league Pitchers of the Year (Catherine Bishop - BIG EAST, 2006/Aja Sherman, C-USA, 2005), MVP (Courtney Moore - C-USA, 2005), and Freshman of the Year (Audrey Rendon - C-USA, 2004).
In 2006, Lacy Wood became U of L's first softball All-American, earning third team honors. Kristen Wadwell (2009) and Melissa Roth joined the All-America ranks with Roth earning the honor twice (2009 and 2010). Tori Collins and Taner Fowler became the fourth and fifth players to earn All-America honors in 2012. Alicja Wolny and Katie Keller joined the list when they were named second team All-Americans in 2013.
The Cardinals have placed 24 players on NFCA Regional teams and Shannon Nord was named to the 2004 NCAA regional tournament team in Louisville's first appearance.
Before her time at UofL...
Pearsall came to UofL after a six-year stint as head coach at Miami University (Ohio). At Miami, she collected her 250th career win and mentored nine All-MAC selections and 16 Academic All-MAC honorees in addition to seven academic all-district selections. In 2012, she was inducted into the Miami University Cradle of Coaches Association, joining Randy Ayers, Thad Matta, Joe Novak and Sue Ramsey to comprise the Cradle of Coaches Class of 2012-13.
"I am confident that Sandy will carefully build our new program," said Athletic Director Tom Jurich in 1999. "We want to make some noise quickly in collegiate softball and Sandy can put all the pieces in place to accomplish that."
"I was very excited by the challenge of starting this program from scratch," said Pearsall. "Tom Jurich has a sincere and impressive commitment to women's athletics which struck me immediately. It is great to be part of a program in an area that is growing to love fast pitch softball."
Before her stint in Oxford, Ohio, Pearsall spent three seasons as head coach at Colorado State, where she posted a 78-68 mark. While at CSU, she was successful in developing the Rams into an annual contender for the Western Athletic Conference championship. Her 1990 squad captured the league title and earned Pearsall Conference Coach of the Year honors.
This was not the first time Pearsall had been asked to build a program from the ground up. In 1988, she headed the newly-formed Florida A&M team and led the squad to 36 wins in two seasons. Prior to FAMU, she took the University of San Francisco softball team from the cellar of the conference to second place in just three years. Her efforts did not go unnoticed as she earned NorPac Conference Coach of the Year honors.
"Everywhere I called about her, she got rave reviews," said Jurich. "We are excited to be able to attract someone of her experience and credentials."
Pearsall began her coaching career as the outfield coach at the University of the Pacific. In her two seasons there, she coached a pair of All-America honorees. As a part of the 1984 team, Pearsall was inducted into the Pacific Hall of Fame for the team's fifth place finish at nationals, the best finish in UOP history. She was inducted into the Stockton Hall of Fame in 2003.
Her Playing Days
As a player at Oregon State, Pearsall earned all-region outstanding outfielder and defensive honors and served as team captain in 1983. She played for two years in Women's AA ball, where she was named to seven all-tournament teams. She played six years in the Women's Open Division and was named to 16 all-tournament teams and made five national appearances.
Pearsall remains active in her sport at a national level as well. She has served on the All-America Selection Committee, the NCAA West Regional Ranking Committee, the Mid-American Softball Executive Committee as well as her membership in the National Softball Coaches Association and the ASA Northern California Umpire Association. She has coached at NCAA YES Clinics and various camps helping to develop the sport of fastpitch. In 2003, she worked for CSTV, serving as the color analyst for the C-USA Championship game.
Pearsall's fileCoaching Career
2000- present- University of Louisville (589-296/.665); 839-630/.571 overall) 2014 - 36-22, 14-7 American Athletic Conference (Tournament Champion); NCAA Tucson Regional (0-2) 2013 - 47-13, 18-4 BIG EAST; NCAA Regional (1-2)
- U of L earns No. 15 overall seed in NCAA tournament, selected as regional host
2012 - 55-5, 20-2 BIG EAST; NCAA Regional (2-2)
- U of L wins BIG EAST regular season and tournament; Earns No. 15 overall seed in NCAA tournament, selected as regional host - BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year - NFCA Great Lakes Region Coaching Staff of the Year
- Inducted into Miami University Cradle of Coaches Association 2011 - 38-20, 12-7 BIG EAST; NCAA Regional (2-2) 2010 - 41-19, 16-6 BIG EAST; NCAA Regional (2-2); BIG EAST Tournament runner-up 2009 - 48-11, 19-5 BIG EAST; NCAA Regional (1-2) 2008 - 31-23, 12-8 BIG EAST; NCAA Regional (1-2) 2007 - 37-25, 14-6 BIG EAST - Tournament champions; NCAA Regional (1-2) 2006 - 45-11, 19-3 BIG EAST
- U of L wins BIG EAST regular season, tournament runner-up; earns NCAA berth, advanced to regional final BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year 2005 - 43-20, 20-4 C-USA
- U of L wins C-USA regular season; earns NCAA berth 2004 - 41-19, 19-5 C-USA
- U of L makes first NCAA appearance; finishes second in C-USA 2003 - 24-26, 12-11 C-USA 2002 - 27-28, 11-10 C-USA 2001 - 40-26, 12-9 C-USA 2000 - 36-26, 8-8 C-USA - C-USA Coach of the Year 1992-98 - @ Miami University (Ohio) 1989-91 - @ Colorado State 1990- Wins Western Athletic Conference Championship - WAC Coach of the Year 1988-90 - @ Florida A&M 1985-88 - @ San Francisco - NorPac Coach of the Year 1984-85 - @ Pacific - Named to Pacific Hall of Fame (2003) Playing Career
Oregon State - 1982-84