LUBBOCK, Texas – Sami Ward, a three-time West Coast Conference Coach of the Year, has been named the eighth head softball coach in Texas Tech history, Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt announced Friday afternoon.
"Coach Ward has built a reputation as one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the country," Hocutt said. "We identified her early in our interview process, and we couldn't be more excited for the future of Red Raider Softball under her leadership. We are thrilled to welcome Coach Ward and her family to Lubbock. We'd also be remiss if we didn't thank Coach Sam Marder for leading our program during this interim period."
Loyola Marymount developed into one of the top softball programs on the west coast under Ward's watch as the Lions were 138-109 overall during her five seasons, including an impressive 38-21 during WCC play. The Lions finished second in the WCC standings three times during her tenure, which was highlighted by three seasons with at least 30 wins as well as a 40-win campaign in 2019, their most since the 2007 season.
Ward was named the WCC Coach of the Year following the 2016, 2018, and 2019 seasons, the final two of which resulted in National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC) appearances. Loyola Marymount claimed the NISC title in 2018 after defeating both UT Arlington and UC Riverside in the championship series and Northern Colorado and South Dakota State in the regional round.
The Lions were on pace for another postseason trip this past season as Loyola Marymount topped No. 4 LSU and No. 13 Michigan, both perennial Women's College World Series participants, prior to the 2020 campaign being cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be the next leader of the Red Raider softball program," Ward said. "We have a great deal of talent already in the club, and I am looking forward to continuing to develop them as well as building for the future. I want to thank Kirby Hocutt, Tony Hernandez, Ginger Kerrick, Grace Hernandez, and President Schovanec for the amazing privilege to serve Texas Tech."
Ward was tabbed the seventh head coach in Loyola Marymount history following a 2015 season where the Lions finished 26-28 overall and 8-7 in WCC play, a seven-win conference improvement from prior to her arrival. Ward mentored left-handed pitcher Rachael Farrington to 20 wins in the circle that season, which culminated in first-team All-WCC honors.
Prior to returning to her alma mater, Ward served as co-head coach with her husband, Randy Ward, at Academy of Art University, a Division-II program in San Francisco that was in its first year as a full-fledged NCAA member. Academy of Art marked her third head coaching position as Ward previously oversaw the softball programs at North Dakota (2008-11) and Dakota Wesleyan University (2006-07).
North Dakota claimed its first conference championship in program history under Ward in 2010 as the Fighting Eagles finished a perfect 3-0 to win the Great West Conference Tournament. Ward was instrumental in North Dakota transitioning to the highest level of collegiate softball as the 2010 season was only the Fighting Eagles' second as a Division-I member.
In addition to her time as a head coach, Ward has also served as an assistant coach at Saint Mary's (2012) and Louisiana Tech (2004-05) during her career. During her time as a student-athlete, Ward was also a player and assistant coach for the Ireland National Team in 2002.
Ward joined the coaching profession shortly after ending her playing career at Loyola where she remains one of the most storied players in school history as both a pitcher and utility player. To this day, Ward still ranks in the career top 10 for at-bats (633), hits (192), RBI (110), doubles (34), home runs (29), pitching appearances (110), wins (42), complete games (30), saves (4), innings pitched (438.2), strikeouts (223) and ERA (2.28).
Ward was tabbed the Pacific Coast Softball Conference Player of the Year in 2003 after leading the Lions to the league's inaugural championship. She also garnered first-team All-WAC honors in 2002 and first-team All-PSCS accolades in 2003 and 2004 as well as NFCA All-Region honors those final two seasons.
Ward earned her bachelor's degree in liberal studies with a minor in sociology from Loyola in 2004. She went on to obtain her master of arts in curriculum and instruction from Dakota Wesleyan in 2008.
A native of Keizer, Oregon, Ward, and her husband, Randy, are parents to two daughters, Ryli and Hayli.
SAMI WARD CAREER HISTORY
2016-20 – Loyola Marymount Head Coach
2015 – Loyola Marymount Associate Head Coach
2013-14 – Academy of Art University Co-Head Coach (Division-II)
2012 – Saint Mary's Assistant Coach
2008-11 – North Dakota Head Coach
2006-07 – Dakota Wesleyan Head Coach (NAIA)
2004-05 – Louisiana Tech Assistant Coach