OXFORD, Miss. – Mike Smith, who led the McNeese State softball program to three-straight 30-plus win seasons in his three years with the Cowgirls, has been named the head softball coach at Ole Miss, athletics director Ross Bjork announced Thursday.
Smith, who led McNeese State to back-to-back Southland Conference regular season championships in 2013 and 2014, its first since 1994, brings 16 years of head coaching experience to Oxford and a career record of 748-224. He has been named the Southland Conference Coach of the Year in each of the past two seasons.
“As our process unfolded, it became crystal clear Mike Smith is the perfect fit to build our softball program into a contender in the SEC and on the national stage,” Bjork said. “His contagious persona, energy, passion and knowledge of the game of softball was evident within minutes of our first meeting. Recruiting is key in college athletics and Mike has the right relationships to showcase Ole Miss to the best and brightest around the country. Mike is highly regarded in the softball world and he is simply a winner in all aspects of coaching and life. We are excited to welcome Mike, Ellen, Ashlee and Tyler to the Ole Miss family.”
“From the first contact with Lynnette Johnson and Ross to every individual person I met, including the committee, I felt like it was home and family,” Smith said. “They made my family feel welcome and part of a family. It just felt like home. Family comes first and that was a big decision for us. There was no second guessing. It was a great fit for the Smith family.”
“We want to try to win right away,” said Smith about the Ole Miss softball program. “We will be committed to doing everything we can to being successful and that starts with myself and my staff going out and recruiting the best payers locally and across the country. We’re going to be as good as we can be and do all the small things. It’s not about the outcome, it’s about the process. It’ll be a tough process at first, but the goal at the end is to be a successful program. Something I’ve instilled everywhere I’ve been is to be the best you can be 100 percent of the time and give it your all and the rest will take care of itself.”
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.
With the Rebels' 82-74 win at Alabama on Tuesday night, Ole Miss has posted 20 wins for the seventh time in nine seasons under head coach Andy Kennedy. The Rebels recorded just seven 20-win campaigns in the 96 seasons before... read more
The Manning Center played host to 16 former Ole Miss players, including NFL Scouting Combine participants Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson, attempting to make a lasting impact on the 27 NFL teams represented at Pro Day on Thursday. Prewitt, a... read more
NFL Scouting Combine participants Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt are among 18 former Ole Miss players expected to go through Pro Day workouts in hopes of realizing their professional football dreams. More than 25 representatives from 22 different teams were... read more
The Ole Miss women's basketball team heads to the 2015 SEC Tournament in Little Rock, Arkansas, having won three of its last four games to finish the regular season with a 17-12 overall and 7-9 SEC record and earn the... read more
Ole Miss welcomes back seven starters from the nation's No. 1 scoring defense, but two of those starters, seniors C.J. Johnson and Mike Hilton, will be starting the spring at different positions, with Johnson at Mike linebacker and Hilton at... read more
Ole Miss began spring practice Tuesday, and for the first time under head coach Hugh Freeze, the Rebels will have a starting quarterback not named Bo Wallace. With the graduation of Wallace, sophomores Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade, as well... read more
The Southeastern Conference announced today Kickoff '15, its annual football media days, will be held July 13-16, remaining at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham - Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala. The event will continue to be four days in 2015. The... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewFeb. 24-March 2, 2015Track & Field - Ole Miss got SEC titles from Jalen Miller (60m), Daniel Bulmer (mile) and the distance medley relay, and the Rebels achieved their best SEC indoor finish since 1984.... read more
The calendar turned to March, as the men's and women's basketball teams march toward the SEC Tournament and postseason play. The baseball team faced perhaps its biggest challenge of nonconference play. The softball and men's tennis teams each had another... read more
The numbers and bracket projections may not be in his favor at this point, but head women's basketball coach Matt Insell is selling the NCAA Tournament selection committee on his team passing the eye test, as Ole Miss enters its... read more
BATON ROUGE, La. -- With an opportunity to perhaps lock itself into the NCAA Tournament, or at the very least enhance its resume, Ole Miss lost back-to-back games for the first time all season, falling on the road at LSU... read more
Despite the most recent home loss to Georgia on Wednesday night, Ole Miss remains a team projected to be solidly in the field, as the Rebels put their school record four-game SEC road winning streak on the line when they... read more
Here's a collection of snow days photos from Ole Miss Athletics Photographer Josh McCoy (@OleMissPix):The Pavillion at Ole Miss in winter! #SnowDay2015 #WAOM @OleMissSports @OleMissMBB @OleMissWBB pic.twitter.com/nHyhVPlDvG-- OleMissPix (@OleMissPix) February 25, 2015 Awweeee.... #SnowDay2015 #WAOM @OleMissSports @OleMissFB pic.twitter.com/R1BDZ0shvS-- OleMissPix (@OleMissPix)... read more