Auburn University at Montgomery head softball coach Chris Steiner-Wilcoxson has been selected the 2014 NAIA Softball National Coach of the Year.
Steiner-Wilcoxson helped the Warhawks to the first national title in the program's six-year history this past season, as they defeated Southern States Athletic Conference member William Carey for the crown.
"This is a great accomplishment for not only me, but for our players and the entirecoaching staff as well," Steiner-Wilcoxson said. "This award certainly would not have been possible without the dedication of our student-athletes, as well as the support of our administration, both at the University level and within athletics. I think this is one of the highest honors that a coach can receive. It is very humbling that other coaches across the nation felt our program was deserving. This is much more than an individual award. I certainly could not have achieved it by myself, but am very proud and appreciative to receive it."
The only head coach in the tenure of the AUM softball program, Steiner-Wilcoxson led the team to a 44-7 record, including a school-record 24-game winning streak during the season. AUM won the SSAC regular season championship with a 25-1 record, as she earned SSAC Coach of the Year accolades for the second time in her career. She previously garnered the award in 2006 when she was the head coach at former leaguemember Reinhardt.
Additionally, the Warhawks advanced to the NAIA Softball National Championship Tournament for the third consecutive season, earning one of 10 Opening Round host sites and capturing the No. 2 overall seed at the NAIA Softball World Series. AUM spent the entire season ranked inside the top 10 of the NAIA Coaches' Poll, including the top spot in the postseason edition. The Warhawks have been ranked inside the top 10 in 22 consecutive polls.
During their national title run, the Warhawks defeated Lindsey Wilson, Reinhardt and William Carey twice to secure the championship. Needing to be defeated two times, the Warhawks dropped their first game to the Crusaders 7-4, but bounced back and took a 10-6 victory in the deciding game.
As a team, the Warhawks showed great balance during the season, but were led by their strong pitching staff. AUM pitchers ranked in the top 10 nationally in four statistical categories – strikeouts (3rd), innings pitched per game (4th), opponent batting average (5th) and earned run average (7th). Offensively, the Warhawks ranked within the top 50 nationally in home runs per game (31st), hits per game (42nd) and batting average (.322), while ranking third in putouts per game and 27th in fielding percentage.
Individually, several student-athletes flourished under Steiner-Wilcoxson's leadership, as three players earned All-America honors in 2014. Junior hurler Cassie Daniels collected first-team accolades, while sophomore catcher Lauren Shaw was a second teamer. Sophomore pitcher Taylor Powell was an honorable mention selection.
The only coach in the program's six year history, Steiner-Wilcoxson now holds a 234-97-2 record at AUM and sports an overall coaching mark of 318-177-2. In nine seasons as a college head coach, she has suffered just one losing season, her first, and boasts three consecutive 40-win seasons. Earlier this season, she earned her 200th victory at AUM. Following the season, she was selected the SSAC Female Coach of the Year, while she and her staff were also selected the National Coaching Staff of the Year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.