June 12, 2012

UTA narrows list of softball coaching candidates to four

Four finalists remain in the running for the UT Arlington coaching position.

UT Arlington has pared down its list of softball coaching candidates to four finalists, officials at the school said on Tuesday morning.

UTA interim coach Angela Perry and veteran coach Kevin Blaskowski of West Texas A&M, who has more than 500 victories on his résumé, were joined as finalists for the job by Jason Anderson, who led Central Baptist College to a national softball championship in 2010, and Kristie Fox, an assistant at Texas Tech.

Athletic director Jim Baker was not available for comment.

The softball program is in a state of transition after a tumultuous 2012 that concluded with a 15-27 overall record, including 5-15 in the Southland Conference.

One of the four finalists will replace coach Debbie Hedrick, who was released of her duties after being placed on administrative leave during the season after recording more than 365 victories and about as many losses in 16 years on the job.

Her best team was the 41-win 2003 squad that also secured the program's first NCAA Tournament berth. In all, Hedrick won two regular-season titles.

Gone also are two of the Lady Mavericks' top hitters, Charne Office and Erica LeFlore.

Two other top producers, though -- Hillary Steed and Stephanie Gonzalez -- return, as do top pitchers Teri Lyles and Callie Collins, who only a season ago was the conference's pitcher of the year as a freshman.

Perry is the most familiar with the program. The 2012 season marked her ninth year on the coaching staff and 13th overall as a player or coach. She played for UTA from 1996-99.

Blaskowski appears to have the most skins on the wall.

He just completed his seventh season at NCAA Division II West Texas A&M, where in 2011 he guided the Lady Buffaloes to 50-18 record, a Lone Star Conference title as well as the school's first South Central Regional Championship.

The Buffaloes have been a consistent member of the Division II Top 25 the past few years, including a 2012 season in which West Texas A&M began the season in the top five before finishing 35-18.

He has also had stints at Eastern New Mexico, Southern Arkansas, Phillips University, Washburn and Kansas Wesleyan in a 20-year career.

Anderson has led Central Baptist College to four National Christian College Athletic Association national tournaments in his five years at the helm of the Arkansas school, including winning the championship in 2010. The Lady Mustangs went 52-1 that season.

Fox, a former All-America player at Arizona who just completed her third season at Texas Tech, is considered one of the top young assistants in the nation.

She works with the Lady Raiders' hitters and infielders. She had a standout career at Arizona during which she was selected All-American in her sophomore and junior seasons and set a Women's College World Series record with 11 hits in leading the Wildcats to their second consecutive national championship as a senior in 2007.

Fox's first full-time assistant job was with Murray State.

The new coach will also find a university on the move.

UTA will be joining the Western Athletic Conference for a year before settling permanently in the Sun Belt in July 2013.

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