Saint Mary's begins 2018 tomorrow morning versus New Mexico at the Kajikawa Tournament.
The Gaels possess a strong balance of veteran leadership and youthful talent in the infield leading up to the 2018 season.
Saint Mary's softball opens 2018 in three days at the Kajikawa Tournament hosted in Tempe, Ariz.
Saint Mary's Softball will face a strong crop of programs who competed in the 2017 postseason.
Jessica Rodgers will enter her 13th season as head coach of the Saint Mary's softball team in 2018. Rodgers took over the position after being part of the program as an assistant coach and player for seven seasons.
Rodgers has led the Gaels to nine 20-plus win seasons in her 12 years and is already the all-time winningest softball coach in the 28-year history of Division I softball at Saint Mary's with 263 wins.
In 2017, Saint Mary's had a large number of youthful talent with 10 freshman on the roster. The Gaels had five players earn All-WCC recognition. First year second baseman Nikki Alexander was honored to the First Team after a sensational opening campaign. Senior pitcher Katie Moss and junior shortstop Hailey Sparacino were honored on the Second Team, while Katelyn Whitt and Eryn McCoy were named Honorable Mention.
In 2016, Saint Mary's recorded another 20-win season and finished fourth in the West Coast Conference with a 7-8 record in conferences play. The Gaels finished with a large presence in postseason awards, as six players were winners of All-Conference accolades. Katie Moss paved the way as the junior was named to her first WCC All-First Team selection. Seniors Loralie Fitzpatrick, Andrea Hazel, Erica Musgrave, Lujane Mussadi and Monika Reichhardt were all named to conference Honorable Mention.
Saint Mary's had a strong 2014 campaign which included two wins over nationally-ranked California. Saint Mary's was in contention for the inaugural West Coast Conference title until the final weekend at eventual champion BYU. The Gaels finished 8-7 in WCC play and tied for third. Katie Moss was one of six Gaels to earn WCC All-Conference honorable mention and Moss was named WCC Co-Freshman of the Year.
Though the Gaels did not win the PCSC in 2013, it was arguably one of Rodgers' best performances as a coach. A team with 12 freshmen, the Gaels won 20 games, defeated No. 15 Stanford 5-2 on the road and gave themselves a chance at a share of the conference title going into the final weekend of the season. She led senior catcher Megan Smith to a first team All-PCSC nod, and saw Brittany Sabatini get named to the second team for the second consecutive season.
Rodgers led the Gaels to another successful season in 2012 when SMC earned their second Coastal Division Title in three years after going a program-best 15-4 in conference play. For her leadership, she was named the PCSC Coastal Division Coach of the Year for the second time in her career, while also guiding junior Jessica Lemmon to be named the PCSC Coastal Division Pitcher of the Year.
Rodgers was also named the Coach of the Year in 2010 when she led the Gaels to the best season in program history. SMC went 30-23 overall in 2010 and earned the program's first bid to the NCAA Tournament after winning the first conference championship in school history. She led sophomore Britany Linton to be named PCSC Pitcher of the Year and senior Jenna Smith to be named the Co-Player of the Year in the Coastal Division.
Throughout Rodgers' tenure at Saint Mary's, many of her student-athletes have received recognition by the PCSC. In total, the Gaels have received 49 total PCSC honors in Rodgers eight years at the helm, including four individual honors. She also led Bronwyn Russell to be named the PCSC Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2007 and 2008, while the Gaels have accumulated 46 PCSC Commissioners Honor Roll accolades throughout the years as well.
Before being named the Saint Mary's softball head coach, Rodgers served as an assistant coach for the Gaels for three years, with her duties varying in all aspects of the game. Rodgers worked with infielders, outfielders and hitters in her three years as an assistant and was in charge of recruiting and community service. With her help, the Gaels participated in the Walk for Breast Cancer in Golden Gate Park and fed the homeless at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco.
Rodgers, a 2001 graduate of SMC with a degree in Health Physical Education and Recreation with a teaching emphasis, finished her playing career second in RBI (84), third in doubles (19), and eighth with a .284 career batting average. Her senior year proved to be one of her best as she finished the campaign seventh in the SMC record books with a .979 fielding percentage and hits (56).
Rodgers lives in Pleasant Hill, CA with her husband, Justin and sons Jack and Jesse.
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