Former Cardinal catcher Jessica Allister was named the new head coach of Stanford softball by Director of Athletics Bernard Muir last month. She takes on the job after turning around a mediocre Minnesota program during her seven years there, culminating with a program-best 56-5 record and No. 1 national ranking in 2017.
She replaces Rachel Hanson, who resigned after three seasons to accept a position as the executive director of the Baseball and Softball Education Foundation in St. Louis which has ties with the St. Louis Cardinals of the MLB. Allister will look to bring back a struggling Stanford team that went 19-32 last season and 49-104 overall under Hanson. Minnesota was coming off a 16-37 campaign when Allister arrived in 2010. Her overall career record is 290-107.
“I am thrilled to welcome Jessica back to Stanford to lead the program she helped build,” Muir said. “She was an elite competitor during her time on The Farm and has continued to excel in her coaching career. Jessica has established herself as an excellent coach and I believe she will push our student-athletes to be their best on the field, in the classroom and in the community.”
Allister turned down a chance to become one of the highest paid coaches in the Big Ten. “Like I told Mark when it all started, this has nothing to do with there not being what I need at Minnesota,” Allister told the Star Tribune. “Minnesota’s wonderful. It just has everything to do with Stanford being home.”
Allister was the starting catcher during her four seasons at Stanford as she helped bring the team to the Women’s College World Series in 2001 and 2004. Along the way, she set the school record with 266 games played and ended her college career among the top 10 in fielding percentage (.994), home runs (32), RBI (162), hits (217) and other significant stats. She was also named second-team All-American in 2004, and she graduated with a degree in economics.
Allister also previously served as an assistant coach for Stanford from 2007-09.
Allister’s first move was to name Jessica Merchant and Tori Nyberg as assistant coaches.
Merchant had been an assistant coach at Minnesota during Allister’s seven-year tenure as head coach. “I worked with Coach Merchant for seven years at Minnesota and saw first hand the difference she makes in a program,” Allister said. “She does a great job with the infield and hitters, has a tremendous rapport with the student-athletes and is a talented recruiter. I knew I wanted her to continue to be a part of my staff.”
Allister had high praise for Nyberg, who had played with Allister from 2001-2002 and was head coach of Dominican University in 2017.
“[Nyberg] understands the skill set necessary to compete at the highest level and has the teaching acumen to help her pitchers get there,”Allister added. “She has head coaching experience and knows what goes into leading a successful program. I am so excited to bring her back to Stanford.”
Allister mentioned she will miss Minnesota but that she is incredibly excited to be back on the Farm and the challenge it represents.
“Stanford is home,” Allister continued. “Stanford has always been home. I had an amazing experience as an athlete and have always been a proud member of the Stanford community. To be able to come back and lead my alma mater is a dream come true.”
Contact Benjamin Chen at thebenchen10 ‘at’ gmail.com.