When Mike Smith was named the fifth head coach of the Ole Miss softball program on May 29, 2014, he brought with him a wealth of experience across all levels of collegiate softball and a desire to make the Rebels a competitive program immediately.
Smith came up aces in his first season at the helm of the program, tying the school record for wins in a season and putting an offense on the field that rewrote the record books. The Rebels set every offensive record for a season, including batting average, runs scored, RBI, home runs, triples, walks, steals and both on base percentage and slugging percentage. Ole Miss also tied the school record for doubles in his first season.
Under his direction in year one, the Rebels advanced to the SEC Tournament for only the fourth time in school history and the first time since the 2008 season. The 30-wins tied the mark for wins in a year set in 2005 and gave Smith a winning record in his first year. Ole Miss also doubled its win total in Southeastern Conference play, tallying six wins which equaled the total number of conference wins in the previous two seasons combined.
Smith brought the Rebels a series win over a nationally-ranked foe for the first time since the 2009 season when his team rallied to take both games of a doubleheader against archrival Mississippi State. He then took his team on the road and posted a series sweep in SEC play for the first time since the 2012 season and first road sweep in conference play since the 2005 season at Arkansas.
He also coached outfielder Elantra Cox to Freshman All-SEC honors as she finished the regular season fourth in steals and seventh in the career record books with 30 in her debut campaign.
Smith came to Ole Miss after he led the McNeese State softball program to three-straight 30-plus win seasons in his three years with the Cowgirls.
He led McNeese State to back-to-back Southland Conference regular season championships in 2013 and 2014, its first since 1994, brought 16 years of head coaching experience to Oxford and a career record of 748-224. He was named the Southland Conference Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2014.
The Cowgirls went 40-17 during the regular season in 2014, a school record for wins in a season, and posted a 3-1 record against Southeastern Conference opponents Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M. The Cowgirls finished the season with an RPI ranking of No. 46 and won the Southland Conference regular season title by 4.5 games with a 20-6 record.
In addition to Smith being named SLC Coach of the Year in 2014, the Cowgirls also had the conference's player of the year, hitter of the year and pitcher of the year. In all, the Cowgirls had nine players named to either the SLC first, second, third or honorable mention teams.
Under Smith's tutelage, the Cowgirls had two players named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I All-South Region team this season in outfielder Alanna DiVittorio and pitcher Jamie Allred.
DiVittorio, the Southland Conference player and hitter of the year, was the first player in program history to earn first team all-region honors. As a senior in 2014, DiVittorio broke a combined nine school and conference records.
Allred, the Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year, earned second team all-region honors. She finished 2014 with a school-record 27 wins, as well as 10 shutouts.
Both players earned first team All-SLC honors this season and were each Capital One Academic All-District selections. DiVittorio was also named to the Capital One Academic All-America team, becoming just the second player in program history to earn the distinction.
In 2013, his second season with McNeese State, Smith had five players named to the All-SLC team and four named to the All-SLC Academic Team. On the field, the Cowgirls tied a then-program record with 38 wins, going 38-13.
In his first season with McNeese State in 2012, Smith led the Cowgirls to a 3-1 win over Arizona State, the defending national champions and preseason No. 1 team in the country at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona. McNeese State went on to go 34-21 that season.
Prior to McNeese State, Smith coached for eight seasons at California Baptist where he won the NAIA National Championship in 2009, and finished in the top-six in the country all eight years, including seven years finishing inside the top-four. The Lancers won their conference championship and advanced to the NAIA World Series all eight years, and won 60 or more games in each of Smith's final four seasons, concluding with a school-record 66 wins in 2011.
Smith was the interim head coach at UC Riverside prior to his time at California Baptist, and in the four years prior to that he served as head coach at Biola, where he won one league title, had a 50-win season and a 10th-place finish at the NAIA World Series.
In 2011, he served as the head coach of the USA team that played in the Prague International Softball Championships.
A graduate of The Master's College in Santa Clarita, California, Smith was a two-time all-district pitcher on the college baseball team and went on to play in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, reaching the Class AA level. He also played for a number of independent league teams from 1994 to 2001.
Smith was a Western Baseball League Pitcher of the Year with the Mission Viejo (Calif.) team in both 1997 and 1998, and in 2000 was the MVP of the WBL championship series with the St. George team.
Smith also served as a pitching coach for the Biola baseball team from 1996-1998, and was a teacher and coach at Heritage Christian School in Anaheim, California, from 1993-96, where he was head coach for baseball and boys and girls basketball teams, an assistant coach in football and an assistant athletic director.
A San Diego native, Smith and his wife, Ellen, have two children, Ashlee and Tyler.
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