Oregon softball head coach Melyssa Lombardi filled the first spot on her coaching staff on August 11, 2018,, announcing the hiring of Justin Shults as an assistant coach.
Shults, an assistant and primary hitting coach at Fresno State the last two seasons (2017-18), will take a leading role in working with the Ducks’ hitters.
“I am thrilled to announce Justin as our new hitting coach,” said Lombardi. “I have known Justin for a long time and have watched his coaching career from afar. Justin’s athletes have flourished under his direction and set numerous offensive records at every program he’s been at, and he brings a wealth of hitting knowledge and understands how to connect individually with each athlete. I look forward to the positive impact he will leave on our student-athletes both on and off the field. I can’t wait to for our fall season to get started.”
“I’m extremely excited to accept this position at the University of Oregon,” said Shults. “The chance to work with top-tier athletes everyday as well as the tremendous facilities and fan base UO has is something that I am really looking forward to.
“I’ve known Missy now for about 10 years and I’m excited to not only be an assistant under her, but I’m excited to learn from her and grow as a coach. She’s coached some of the best talent in the country and she knows how to win, which makes this such an exciting opportunity.”
Shults led Fresno State to a historic offensive year in 2018, when the Bulldogs ranked fifth in the NCAA with a .410 team on-base percentage, up from .373 in 2017. Six Bulldogs owned an on-base percentage of .410 or better, with Hayleigh Galvan leading the way at an astounding .511 clip. Fresno State showed a knack for finding ways to reach base, as Bulldog hitters shattered the program and Mountain West records with 71 hit-by-pitches in 2018, the second-most in the nation, while also breaking the program record with 213 walks.
The Bulldogs also hit for power under Shults, blasting 50 home runs with a .483 team slugging percentage in 2018. Three Bulldog position players earned first-team all-Mountain West honors in 2018, while Galvan also earned NFCA All-Pacific-Region third-team honors. Galvan led the team in batting average (.372), slugging percentage (.657), and on-base percentage (.511) and was tied for the team lead with 90 total bases.
Shults helped lead the Bulldogs to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017, his first season with the program, after he and the new staff took over a team that graduated eight seniors, including the reigning MWC pitcher of the year and MWC defensive player of the year. Offensively, the 2017 Bulldogs broke the program’s single-season record for grand slams (5) and the single-game record for RBIs (23), which they accomplished against Stanford (Feb. 12). The Bulldogs also tied the single-game program records for runs (24), home runs (6) and total bases (40) against the Cardinal.
Shults went to Fresno State following two seasons as the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Miami University (Ohio), where he helped guide the RedHawks to back-to-back 30-win seasons, a Mid-American Conference Tournament championship and an NCAA Tournament berth in 2016.
During his last season at Miami (Ohio), the team broke offensive school records for runs (302), runs per game (5.21), RBIs (274), doubles (83), home runs (56) and walks (200). Shults also mentored Taylor Shuey, the first MAC player of the year in school history.
Prior to his time at Miami, Shults spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Southwestern Oklahoma State, where he assisted with hitting, outfield and recruiting. He helped guide six players to All-Great American Conference Team honors.
As a baseball player, Shults spent one season in the Houston Astros organization after being drafted in the 45th round of the 2011 MLB Draft. A highly decorated playing career at UC Riverside, Shults earned 2010 All-American and All-Region honors as a junior. He was also a two-time All-Big West selection. Shults left UC Riverside as the program’s single-season record for RBIs (62) and the single-game records for HR (3) and total bases (16).
Shults earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from UC Riverside in 2011, and his Masters of education in sport management from Southwestern Oklahoma State in 2013.