STANFORD, Calif. – Jessica Allister has been named the head coach of Stanford softball, as announced Tuesday by director of athletics Bernard Muir.
Allister, the fourth head coach in program history, joins the Cardinal after leading Minnesota the past seven seasons. She led the Gophers to unprecedented heights in 2017, registering a program-best 56-5 record and earning the first No. 1 national ranking in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll in program history. She has accumulated a 290-107 (.730) overall record during her career.
"I am thrilled to welcome Jessica back to Stanford to lead the program she helped build," said Muir. "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."
It will be familiar territory for Allister who returns to Stanford where she was a second-team All-American as a catcher in 2004 and helped lead the Cardinal to Women's College World Series appearances in 2001 and 2004. She graduated in 2004 with a degree in economics.
"Stanford is home," said Allister. "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."
Allister produced one of the best individual careers in Stanford history as a four-year starting catcher. She still holds the record for most games played (266) and graduated among the top-10 in numerous career categories including fielding percentage (.994), home runs (32), RBI (162), slugging percentage (.473), doubles (47), hits (217), putouts (1103) and batting average (.283).
Allister was a three-time all-conference selection, led the team to four NCAA Regional appearances and started at catcher in both of Stanford's Women's College World Series appearances.
"There is not a better person who embodies and understands what it takes to be a Cardinal," said Jessica Mendoza, a teammate of Allister's during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. "Having played with her at Stanford, and watching her lead the team to two Women's College World Series appearances, she understands how to win at the highest level. But more importantly, she gets what it takes to be a student-athlete at Stanford. There is no one better for this job than Jessica Allister."
During her freshman season in 2001, Allister earned all-region recognition and helped lead the Cardinal to a program-record 54 victories.
"Some people are just born leaders," said Ramona Shelburne, a senior during Allister's freshman season in 2001 and a senior writer for ESPN.com. "I remember when she was a freshman catcher back in 2000-01 and she already had the presence and confidence to lead our pitching staff. We went to the first Women's College World Series that year in Stanford softball history and I don't think it's a coincidence. I'd look back behind the plate at Allister calling pitches and setting the tone for our defense with so much confidence. She just made you feel good that she was in charge.
"And now, all these years later, she really is in charge. It's been awesome to watch her coaching career grow, but I can't say it's surprising. She's always had this in her. As an alum, I'm both so excited to see how she guides the program and so proud of her and the coach she's become. I can't wait for the current team to meet her."
Allister led Minnesota to its best season ever in 2017, guiding the Gophers to their first regular season Big Ten title since 1991 and its third Big Ten Tournament championship in the past four seasons. She was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year and her staff earned NFCA Great Lakes Regional Coaching Staff of the Year honors.
Seven of Minnesota's 17 NFCA All-America selections came during Allister's tenure and the Gophers have accumulated 29 NFCA All-Region honors.
Allister's coaching success goes beyond the field with her teams producing 61 student-athletes who earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades. Three student-athletes earned CoSIDA Academic All-America recognition and seven have received CoSIDA Academic All-District honors.
Prior to leading Minnesota, Allister was one of the country's top assistant coaches, helping Georgia (2005-06), Stanford (2007-09) and Oregon (2010) to NCAA postseason appearances, including five berths in a six-year period.
After graduating from Stanford in 2004, Allister played professionally as a member of the New England Riptide of the National Pro Fastpitch League in 2004 and 2005.
Allister succeeds Rachel Hanson, who stepped down as the head coach last week to become the executive director of the Baseball and Softball Education Foundation in St. Louis, Missouri.