In just six seasons, Tiger Head Coach Ehren Earleywine has led the Missouri softball program to almost unheard of levels of success in such a short amount of time. In his first season, he took a team that posted just 26 wins and had a losing record the year before and turned them into a 40-win squad that finished the year with a regional bid and a top-20 national ranking. After 2007, Earleywine led the program to an even more success on the national stage, as his Missouri squads have captured five regional championships in a row, two Big 12 titles, the first three 50-win seasons in Missouri history and three Women's College World Series appearances, making him the first Tiger coach ever to earn consecutive berths to the pinnacle of college softball. Batting averages, ERA's and fielding percentages have all improved dramatically, while Tiger players are earning national recognition on a now annual basis. Missouri's top-ranked softball squad has Earleywine to credit for its rise to national prominence.
Named Missouri's head coach in August of 2006, Earleywine's rapid success was rewarded a seven year contract extension on August 31, 2011, making him the first Olympic coach in Missouri history to receive an extension greater than five years. In his six seasons at Missouri, Earleywine has managed a record of 288-90, amassing the second most wins of the Tiger's eight all-time softball coaches and becoming the fastest Missouri softball coach to reach 200 victories. Since beginning his head coaching career in 2003 at Georgia Tech, Earleywine has turned in a .750 winning percentage, the eighth-best amongst active Division I coaches, and is averaging 48 wins per season. He is the fifth fastest coach to reach 100 wins in NCAA Division I softball history.
As successful as the 2009 campaign was, somehow the 2010 Missouri softball season topped it. While that may not have been a surprise when you looked at the team going into the season, Mizzou definitely shocked plenty of people after what happened in the middle of the season. At the end of March, Missouri was flying high, sitting at No. 3 in the country and considered a legitimate contender to win the Women's College World Series. However, word then broke of a season-ending injury to ace pitcher Chelsea Thomas, and suddenly Missouri became an afterthought. What people seemed to forget, however, is that this was an Ehren Earleywine coached team, and they wouldn't be allowed to roll over and die without a fight.
After a brief adjustment period in early April, the Tigers finally got it all together. They ended the season with 51 wins, breaking the school record mark of 50 set the previous year. They hosted the regional round for the second straight year, where they used a seventh inning comeback over Creighton and two straight wins over Illinois to capture their third consecutive regional championship. Then, Missouri played host to the NCAA Super Regional round for the first time in school history, sweeping the Oregon Ducks in two games to move on to their second straight and fifth overall Women's College World Series. Missouri had their fourth All-American awarded under Earleywine, and finished the year ranked No. 8, tying for the highest end of the year ranking in program history. For their work, Earleywine and his staff were selected as the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Midwest Staff of the Year for the second consecutive season.
2005 ACC Coach of the Year
2007 Big 12 Coach of the Year
2009 NFCA Midwest Staff of the Year
2010 NFCA Midwest Staff of the Year
2011 Big 12 Coach of the Year
2012 NFCA Midwest Staff of the Year
In 2011, the Tigers once again entered the season with incredible expectations, and again they lived up to the hype, inching ever closer to their goal of a national championship. They broke the school record for wins for the third straight season, finishing with a record of 53-10. During the middle of the season, they won 24 straight games, a school record as well. They captured their first regular season Big 12 Championship since 1997 after finishing the year at 15-3 in league play. For the third straight year, Columbia played host to the NCAA Regional round, where the Tigers captured their fourth consecutive regional title despite falling into the loser's bracket on the first day of action. Missouri hosted Washington for the NCAA Super Regionals the following week, the second straight year the Tigers have hosted Supers, and swept the Huskies in two games to advance to their third straight Women's College World Series. Mizzou won their first WCWS game since 1991, defeating rival Oklahoma by a 4-1 score to eliminate the Sooners. Despite losing a 13 inning heartbreaker later that night to end their season, the Tigers finished the year with a 53-10 record and a No. 6 national ranking, the highest finish ever for the Missouri softball program. Redshirt sophomore Chelsea Thomas was one of three finalists for USA Softball's Player of the Year award and was named Big 12 Pitcher of the Year after leading the nation in ERA, while the squad also had three All-Americans and six All-Big 12 selections.
Last season, the Tigers said goodbye to the most successful class in school history, and welcomed in 10 freshmen, completely revamping the face of the program. While anyone around the program would say it was a disappointing year, making it clear all season that they were "reloading" and not "rebuilding," the Tigers still finished one win away from going to their fourth consecutive Women's College World Series, falling in the final game of the best-of-three Super Regional series to LSU.
Mizzou also finished second in the Big 12, going 17-7 in league play. Thomas was again named Big 12 Pitcher of the Year for the second straight season, becoming the second pitcher in conference history to do so, while freshman Corrin Genovese earned the program's second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year Award. Ashley Fleming earned All-America honors for the second time in her career, while the Tiger staff was named NFCA Midwest Region Staff of the Year for the third time in four years.
In six seasons, the two-time Big 12 Coach of the Year has become the first Missouri softball coach to lead his squad to five straight NCAA Regional titles, doing so in 2008 and again at home in Columbia, Mo., from 2009-12. Since taking the reins, Missouri's batting averages have been on the rise, which includes a .313 mark in 2009, while the team ERA has been on the decline, highlighted by 2011's 1.40 mark, the Tiger's best end of the year ERA since 1998. The 2011 team set a new program best with 539 strikeouts, more than 100 more than the previous record set in 2004. With Earleywine at the helm, the Tigers have stolen a total of 683 bases and managed an 83 percent success rate on stolen bags since 2007.
In addition to the success Missouri has seen on the field, Earleywine's squad has received record marks in the classroom, finishing the 2008 campaign with a combined 3.36 grade-point average, the highest GPA since the creation of the program in 1975. In 2011, Missouri led the Big 12 with a 997 APR rate for the softball team, while 10 Tigers were named to the Academic All-Big 12 list, the most in the league. They followed that up with eight in 2012, and went on to have three Academic All-Americans crowned in Fleming, Thomas and Jenna Marston, tying the program record for most in a year, set in 1991.
Prior to his career at Missouri, Earleywine spent five seasons at Georgia Tech, of which he served as head coach for the final three. Earleywine's teams made five consecutive appearances in the NCAA Regional Tournament, finishing runner-up on three occasions. The Ramblin' Wreck claimed Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) regular season and tournament titles in 2005 and to his credit, Earleywine was named the 2005 ACC Coach of the Year.
Among his accomplishments, Earleywine's squads broke every offensive record in school history, setting eight ACC records along the way. In 2006, Georgia Tech displayed the top offensive season for any program in ACC history. The Ramblin' Wreck broke league single season records in home runs (75), RBI (385), doubles (99), runs scored (428), slugging percentage (.495) and total bases (903). Nationally, Tech led the country for the second straight season with 138 stolen bases and turned the most double plays of anyone in the NCAA with a school record 40. Tech was third in the nation in total bases, fourth in runs per game (6.11), fifth in home runs and tallied the sixth-best walk total (249) in NCAA history.
Named the top assistant coach at Georgia Tech in 2002, Earleywine served as the hitting and infield coach. During his two seasons as assistant coach, the Ramblin' Wreck hitters broke 16 school records and two conference records.
A 1994 graduate of Westminster College, Earleywine played baseball at Missouri State University (formerly Southwest Missouri State) for one year before transferring to the Fulton, Mo., school for the remainder of his collegiate career. Earleywine served as an assistant coach at Westminster through the 1997 campaign under the guidance of former Major League Baseball outfielder and former Tiger, Phil Bradley, then took the reigns as head coach until 1999. Following his time at Westminster, Earleywine was named assistant baseball coach at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in 2000, remaining there until 2002 before taking the Head Assistant Coaching position at Georgia Tech.
A standout in men's major fastpitch softball, Earleywine was a four-time member of Team USA (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003) including being named captain for his final two seasons with the national team. In 2002, Team USA captured its first-ever gold medal in the Pan Am Qualifier, where Earleywine hit .429. During his career, Earleywine collected four medals, one gold, two silver and one bronze. At the 2003 Pan Am Games, hosted by the Dominican Republic, Earleywine helped lead Team USA to a silver medal, doing so again in the 1999 Pan Am Games held in Winnipeg, Canada. Earleywine and his team earned bronze in Valencia, Venezuela, at the 1998 Pan Am Qualifier.
A six-time American Softball Association (ASA) All-American, Earleywine was an All-World selection in 1999 by the International Softball Congress (ISC). As a member of the Decatur Pride, Earleywine's team earned the ASA Softball National Championship title in 1999 taking World Championship honors in 2001 with the ISC.
Earleywine is a graduate of Jefferson City High School and is married to Linn, Mo., native Lisa. The two have two children, son, Connor and daughter, Duran.
EARLEYWINE'S RECORD AT MIZZOU (as of May 19, 2013)