Jessica Shults Hired to be Houston Asst Coach


Houston Cougars Head Coach Kristin Vesely  went to her Oklahoma roots to find her hitting coach as Vesely hires former Sooners catcher Jessica Shults to be asst coach.

Schults spent this past season as a Grad -Asst Coach on the Sooners as they won the National Championship. Shults won a National title as a player with the Sooners in 2013.

Shults is the second high profile name that Vesely hired to her staff as she hired former All-American pitcher Megan Gibson-Loftin to be her pitching coach. Sources told me that Shults was highly recommended by Sooners Head Coach Patti Gaso who Vesely played for at Oklahoma.

You can listen to Shults interview with In The Circle from May 31st where she discussed many topics including her coaching desires right here.

Jessica Shults accomplishments at Oklahoma   Shults_OU

– Named to 2013 WCWS All-Tournament Team

– 2012 First Team NFCA All-American,-2013 All-Big 12 Defensive Team

2010 & 2011 NFCA Second Team All-American,

3-time NFCA All-Central Region First Team (2010, 2011 and 2012), 2012

– 2012 All-Big 12 First Team,

-2011 All-Big 12 Second Team

-2010 All-Big 12 First Team

-2010 Big 12 Championship All-Tournament team

-Two-time top 50 finalist for USA Softball’s Collegiate Player of the Year.



Shelby Turnier’s Homecoming Win


It was a memorable homecoming for former UCF All-American pitcher Shelby Turnier as she put on a show in front of many friends, family at Champions Stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Turnier was dominant in relief as she pitched 4 innings giving up just one hit and 0 runs and two strikeouts in picking up the win as the Chicago Bandits defeated the USSSA Pride 5-1.

It was Turnier first trip  back to Orlando since her Knights career ended at NCAA Tournament Regional on May 22.  5 days after her Knights career ended. Turnier signed her pro contract with the Bandits. Shelby_Bandits

Turnier came in relief in the bottom of the 4th with the Bandits ahead 5-1 in the fourth inning, the Pride kicked off the inning with a rally with consecutive singles from Keilani Ricketts and Hallie Wilson which would knock out  starting pitcher Sara Moulto. Turnier would end the Pride threat retiring all three batters she faced, negating the threat and keeping the Bandits’ four-run cushion intact.

Turnier (W, 4-3)  shutdown the league-leading Pride’s offensive which leads in the NPF in many offensive categories  with a nice mix of pitches and worked the corners of the plate effectively.

In the bottom of the 5th as Turnier was warming up she notice a familiar face getting interviewed on the TV broadcast that brought a smile to her face. UCF Softball Head Coach Renee Luers Gillispie was in attendance to watch Turnier pitch. 785o_ucf_sb_team_5_13_15

Turnier had many memorable moments in Central Florida, winning 2 high school state championships in Clermont in her sophomore and junior seasons in High School for Miami Palm Beach Gardens. She help UCF Win American Regular season Conference Championships in 2014 and 2015 and pitched a 1 hit shutout at 2015 American Conference Tournament  Championship at UCF Softball complex against Tulsa.

Turnier became UCF first ever All-American in 2015 and finished in top 10 player of the year finalist as well in 2015. Turnier left UCF as the all-time leader in wins with 80

Turnier added another memorable chapter to her legendary career in the Central Florida in her most memorable pro win to date.

Here is Shelby Turnier following the  Bandits win over the Pride.

Turnier discussed the following :

  • What it was like to be back in Central Florida?
  • Her performance against the Pride
  • What life like in the NPF?
  • Seeing Coach Gillispie while warming up.
  • Facing former UCF Teamate Kahley Novak

Rachel Lawson Talks Kentucky, NPF Softball

Eric Lopez talks with Kentucky Head Coach Rachel Lawson about the Wildcats program as well as her involvement with the NPF’s ScrapYard Dawgs this summer as an asst coach. Among the topics Lawson discussed in the interview include :

IMG_4124 (2)
Rachel Lawson is Asst Coach of ScrapYard Dawgs.(Photo by Jade Hewitt, Courtesy of National Pro Fast Pitch)


  • Why Lawson joined the ScrapYard Dawgs?
  • What she learned coaching in NPF?
  • The Difference between NPF and College?
  • How Lawson balances  job at Kentucky with ScrapYard Dawgs?
  • Look back at Kentucky players in the NPF
  • Reflect on Kentucky’s 2016 season
  • Early peak at Kentucky’s 2017 season
  • How Kentucky has competed in the SEC


 Interview with Rachel Lawson

Lawson will be entering her 10th season as Kentucky’s head coach in 2017. Lawson had led the Wildcats  to four NCAA Super Regionals in  the last five seasons, including the program’s  first-ever appearance in the Women’s College World Series back in 2014.

In three of the last four seasons, Lawson has led the Wildcats to a national seed in the NCAA Tournament including a No. 9 seed this season after finishing in second place in the SEC in the Regular season. The Wildcats  hosted an NCAA Regional for the first time ever in 2013. Under Lawson, Kentucky  has made the NCAA Tournament each of the last eight seasons.

NCAA Softball 09-10University of Kentucky UK vs USC Game 3 UK wins 8-0
Rachel Lawson will enter her 10th season at Kentucky in 2017( Photo Courtesy of Kentucky Athletics)

Lawson was named the 2016 SEC Coach of the Year, and joined Kelsey Nunley (SEC Pitcher of the Year) as the first two Kentucky winners of those awards.







Kelsey Nunley Talks Kentucky, USSSA Pride Softball

Eric Lopez interviews USSSA Pride rookie pitcher Kelsey Nunley about life with the Pride as a rookie in the NPF. Nunley also talked about her career at Kentucky. Among the topics Nunley discussed were  the following:

Kelsey Nunley
Kelsey Nunley led Kentucky to Women’s College World Series in 2014. Photo by Britney Howard | UK Athletics
  • How rookie season with Pride going?
  • What it like to be drafted in 1st round of the NPF Draft?
  • Why did Nunley chose to go to Kentucky?
  • Who was Nunley favorite player growing up?
  • What was Nunley favorite moment at Kentucky?

  Kelsey Nunley Interview

 Nunley made program history this season becoming the first player in Kentucky Softball program  history to be named a National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association First Team All-American.

Nunley  won the 2016 Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year and along with current assistant coach Molly Johnson-Belcher are  the two All-Americans in Kentucky’s program history to date with Johnson-Belcher earning second team honors in 2009.

Nunley set or surpassed new program bests for single-season ERA, career innings pitched, appearances, wins and saves by the time her career at Kentucky was over.

Nunley was the fifth overall pick in the first round of the NPF Draft by the Pride.





Jill Compton Talks Fresno State, NPF



Dallas Charge rookie pitcher Jill Compton talks to Eric Lopez and Victor Anderson about her rookie season with the Charge. Compton also talked about legendary career at Fresno State. Among the topics Compton also discussed included:

Jill Compton with former teammate Brenna Moss during Charge-Chicago Bandits series ( Photo Courtesy of Fresno State SoftballTwitter)
  • How did Compton end up with Dallas Charge?
  • Adjustment from College Softball to Pro Softball
  • What advice Brenna Moss gave to Compton about the NPF?
  • Being recruited by Margie Wright
  • 2016 Fresno State season
  • Playing for Trisha Ford
  • Reaction to Trisha Ford leaving Fresno State for Arizona State?
  • Thoughts on new Fresno State Head Coach Linda Garza
  • Whats the future post softball for Jill Compton?
  • Whats it like playing with Lauren Haeger and Cheridan Hawkins

Interview with Jill Compton

Fresno State Accolades for Jill Compton (2013-2016)

Jill Compton
Photo Courtesy of Fresno State

• 2016 Female Bulldog of the Year
• 2016 MW Pitcher of the Year
• 2016 NFCA All-Region first-team
• 2016 All-MW first-team
• 2016 NFCA Pitcher of the Week (Feb. 16)
• 2016 Academic All-MW
• 2015 Mountain West Pitcher of the Year
• 2015 All-Mountain West First-Team
• 2015 All-Region First-Team
• 2015 MW Pitcher of the Week (3/17, 3/24, 4/6, 4/14, 4/21, 4/28)
• Spring 2015 Academic All-Conference
• 2014 All-Mountain West First-Team
• 2014 All-Region Second Team
• 2014 MW Pitcher of the Week (4/29)
• 2013 All-Mountain West First Team
• 2013 MW Pitcher of the Week (3/26, 5/7)
In her senior season, Compton led Fresno State to 42-12-1 season winning the Mountain West Conference and finished in the Top 25 polls. Compton led the Mountain West with 25 wins, 194.1 innings pitched, 140 strikeouts (52 looking) and 31 games started during the 2016 season.Compton finished her Bulldogs career as  Fresno State’s top 10 career leader in games started (2nd, 135), appearances (2nd, 161), saves (4th, 5), wins (6th, 88), strikeouts (6th, 686), no-hitters (6th, 4), innings pitched (7th, 821.2) and complete games (10th, 87).

Compton also finished her career as the Mountain West career leader in games started (135), second in wins (88), complete games (87) and shutouts (24) … counting conference games only, she paced the MW in career wins (47), appearances (72), games started (61), complete games (46), shutouts (14), innings pitched (375) and strikeouts (342).


Houston Hires Megan Gibson-Loftin

Megan Gibson-Loftin announced as Houston Asst Coach on July 7. (Photo Courtesy of Houston Athletics)

It did not take long for new Houston Head Coach Kristin Vesely to make a splash with her first move as Cougars Head Coach. Vesely hired former Texas A&M All-American pitcher Megan Gibson-Loftin to be her asst coach.

“I am really excited to be a part of the Houston Softball program. I grew up in the area, so I am very familiar with UH and the players in the Greater Houston area,” Gibson-Loftin said via Houston Press Release. “I am excited to work with Coach Vesely and am grateful for the opportunity to work at a university while staying near to my family.”

Gibson-Loftin spent the last season with UTSA as an assistant coach under Michelle Cheatham. Gibson-Loftin spent two previous seasons as an assistant coach for the Penn State Nittany Lions from 2014-2015 serving  primarily as the pitching coach.

Under her leadership in 2014, Lion hurlers amassed 14 wins to go along with 177 strikeouts, 22 complete games and a pair of shutouts. The Penn State pitching staff also accumulated four saves on the season which was tied for fourth most in the Big Ten.

Prior to Penn State,  Gibson-Loftin spent two seasons as an assistant under head coach Amanda Lehotak at University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA). Under Gibson’s guidance in 2013, UTSA garnered a formidable 2.76 earned run average while holding opponents to a .254 batting average.

Prior to UTSA, Gibson spent four seasons in the National Professional Fastpitch League (NPF). After leading Texas A&M to a runner-up finish at the 2008 Women’s College World Series (WCWS), she was selected by the Philadelphia Force with the No. 2 overall pick of the 2008 NPF Senior Draft. In addition to her time in the league, Gibson spent a season in the Japanese Softball Association.

Along with her career in the NPF, Gibson served under Texas A&M head coach Jo Evans as a graduate assistant in fall 2008 and again as a volunteer pitching coach during the 2011 season. She also spent time as a softball instructor at High Performance Baseball in Tomball and as a volunteer assistant coach at Spring High School in 2010.

Gibson led Texas A&M to the Women’s College World Series National Championship Series losing to Arizona State.

Among the accomplishmements Gibson had as a player at Texas AM include:

Megan Gibson was Big 12 Player and Pitcher of the Year in 2008
  • 2005 Second team National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American
  • 2005 NFCA Midwest Region All-Region first team
  • 2005 All-Big 12 first team
  • 2005 Big 12 All-Tournament team
  • 2006 NFCA Midwest Region All-Region second team
  • 2006 All-Big 12 second team
  • 2006 All-Big 12 Tournament team
  • 2007 First team NFCA All-American
  • 2007 All-Big 12 first team
  • 2007 NFCA Midwest Region All-Region first team
  • 2008 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award Runner-up
  • 2008 First team NFCA All-American
  • 2008 NFCA Midwest Region All-Region first team
  • 2008 National Strength and Conditioning Association All-American
  • 2008 Big 12 Player of the Year
  • 2008 Big 12 Pitcher of the Year
  • 2008 Big 12 All-Tournament team (Most Outstanding Player)
  • 2008 Honda Sports Award nominee
  • 2008 Women’s College World Series All-Tournament Team

Gibson was inducted into the Texas A&M Sports Hall of Fame in 2014 along with her former teammate Amanda Scarborough.


“I’ve known Megan since we were 9 years old.  said Scarborough who played with Gibson from 05-08. In the past 20+ years I have witnessed Megan grow and thrive, first as a player and now as a pitching coach. I am excited for her that she gets to be back in her hometown surrounded by a youthful, driven, highly competitive coaching staff at UH.”

Gibson and Scarborough knock off Houston in 2007 Regionals at College Station. Now Gibson-Loftin will look to help get the Cougars program back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014.


College Softball More Popular Than College Baseball?

On this edition of In The Circle Podcast, Eric Lopez and Victor Anderson discuss popularity of College Softball and how it is equal and even surpassed College Baseball as a whole and reason why it has happen.For the second straight season, College Softball had higher ratings and more viewers than College Baseball in the Regular Season,Regionals, Super Regionals, and the College World Series.

Oklahoma Game 3 win over Auburn in WCWS Championship Series was most watched Sporting event on Cable that night

One of many examples is the SEC which is popular and very strong in Softball and Baseball. The SEC Championship game between Auburn and LSU garnered 587,000  while the SEC Baseball Tournament Title Game between Florida and Texas AM had 258,000 viewers.

Another example, The ACC Softball Championship game between Florida State and Notre Dame had 486,000 viewers while the ACC Baseball Championship game between Florida State and Clemson had 168,000.

Last year’s Women College World Series Championship Series between Florida and Michigan defeated the Men’s College World Series Championship Series between Virginia and Vanderbilt by 31% .

This year’s Women’s College World Series between Auburn and Oklahoma averaged 1.31 million viewers in Championship Series including Game 3’s 1.476 million which beat Copa America head to head. The Men’s College World Series between Coastal Carolina and Arizona averaged 1.35 million viewers for Game 1 and 2 of the series with Game three got moved to Thursday afternoon on ESPNU due to rain out on previous night.It effected the numbers as the game only drew 500,000 viewers.

As I mention in the podcast, even if you believe Baseball still ahead of Softball. The numbers show that its very close unlike Men’s Basketball versus Women’s Basketball for example where Men’s Hoops crushes Women’s Hoops on annual basis by 10 to 1 ratio in viewers.

Also on the podcast Lopez and Anderson discuss the Super Regional Format change by the NCAA in Division 1.

Last week the Division 1 Competition Oversight Committee approved a change to the super regional format, which will take effect in the 2017 season.  Next season, the super regionals will be conducted as three-day competitions.  In the past the softball super regionals were conducted over a two-day period with the third game played as part of a doubleheader on the second day.

The super regionals will be played Thursday – Sunday the week before the start of the Women’s College World Series.  The 2017 Women’s College World Series will be play June 1st through June 7th in Oklahoma City.

You can listen to the podcast right here as well as on ITunes.


Texas Hires Tripp Mackay

The Red River Rivalry  just got  much more interesting with the news on Wednesday as Texas Head Coach Connie Clark hired Tripp Mackay to be her Asst Coach and hitting coach of the Longhorns.

MacKay will be taking over the position previously held by Corrie Hill, who spent the last 11 years overseeing all aspects of the Texas offense while serving as bench coach on Clark’s staff.

MacKay will now be working for Clark after going against her for many years as Mackay served eight seasons as part of Patty Gasso’s coaching staff from 2007-2015 at the University of Oklahoma, where as an assistant, Mackay was responsible for working primarily with OU’s outfielders and offense.

Tripp Mackay was Oklahoma Asst Coach (2007-2015) helping Sooners win National Title in 2013

Mackay helped the Sooners win the National title in 2013 with an offense that led the country in runs scored per contest (7.8) and slugging percentage (.582), while also rating in the Division I top 10 in batting average (.333), home runs per game (1.54) and doubles per game (1.57). The powerful lineup also established the NCAA single-season record for walks with 348 and set Big 12 season marks for runs scored (476), RBIs (444), slugging and on-base percentage

“Tripp is one of the best coaches in the business,” Clark said in Texas Press Release. “His specialty is with the offense, but he studies every aspect of the game and prepares athletes at an exceptionally elite level. His energy, passion and knowledge shine when he is teaching student-athletes. I wanted an immediate impact guy for our open assistant position and with Coach MacKay, we got that. He will be a tremendous compliment to our coaching staff.”

MacKay currently is working with the newest National Pro Fastpitch expansion team, the Scrap Yard Dawgs. During his time with the organization, he has been in charge of overseeing player and coach development as well as development camps and clinics while currently serving as the team’s co-head coach.

Mackay will have to wait for a return to Norman more then likely until 2018 as the Longhorns are scheduled to host the Sooners in 2017.