Melyssa Lombardi was named the 12th head coach in Oregon softball history on July 9, 2018, bringing with her an elite championship resume after a highly successful 21-year tenure on the staff of Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso, including the last 11 seasons as associate head coach.
The 2017 Division I Assistant Softball Coach of the Year, Lombardi was directly responsible for the Oklahoma pitchers and catchers throughout her 21-season stint in Norman that saw the Sooners win four national championships, including back-to-back in 2016 and 2017, and a total of 15 Big 12 regular season or postseason tournament titles.
Oklahoma played in the postseason every year during Lombardi’s 21 seasons, advancing to 17 Super Regionals and 12 Women’s College World Series appearances. The Sooners made Super Regionals each of the last nine seasons with Lombardi on staff, and the WCWS seven times in her last eight seasons.
A former all-conference catcher for the Sooners, Lombardi coached the Oklahoma battery to a combined 20 All-America honors, 37 All-Region accolades and 77 All-Big 12 honors over her 21 seasons at OU. Her pitchers racked up six Big-12 Pitcher of the Year awards.
In addition to being named the nation’s top assistant in 2017, Lombardi was a part of four NFCA National Coaching Staffs of the Year (2000, 2013, 2016 and 2017), and 11 Regional Coaching Staffs of the Year (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018).
Under Lombardi’s guidance, the Sooner pitchers led the nation in 2018 with a team ERA of 1.12, paced by four-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Paige Parker, who was a finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, and Paige Lowary, who led all active pitchers in the nation in career saves and was the first overall selection in the National Pro FastPitch League Draft. Parker ranked second in the country with a 0.82 ERA, while Lowary was sixth at 1.09.
The 2017 season featured one of the deepest staffs in program history as three pitchers threw at least 100 innings and all five members of the staff had ERAs at 2.08 or lower. The staff ERA was 1.55 on the season with 510 strikeouts in 482.2 innings and an opponents' average of .177. Parker was tremendous for a third straight season, earning Big-12 Pitcher of the Year for the third time with a 1.43 ERA and 8.72 strikeouts per seven innings. Lombardi immediately took Lowary, who transferred from Missouri, under her wing and helped her become a dominant relief pitcher with 11 saves.
As a sophomore in 2016, Parker tied the school record and led the country with 38 wins while posting a 1.64 ERA and notching 269 strikeouts in 252.1 innings with 14 shutouts. The WCWS Most Outstanding Player for the national champion Sooners, Parker was a perfect 10-0 with a 2.13 ERA in the postseason. OU threw 22 total shutouts throughout the 2016 season. Catcher Lea Wodach earned second-team All-Region honors as she hit .315 with seven home runs and 32 runs batted in. Taking over primary catching duties in mid-March, she threw out 11 of the 16 stolen base attempts against her.
Parker burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2015, throwing four perfect games and nine solo shutouts with a 1.65 ERA. She became just the third pitcher in NCAA DI history to throw at least four perfect games in a career, and just the 16th to have four perfectos in a career. Behind the plate in 2015, catchers Whitney Ellis and Lea Wodach limited baserunners to just four stolen bases, the fewest in the nation. In addition, they threw out 8 of 12 would-be basestealers for a nation's base caught stealing rate of 75 percent.
The 2014 season was one of Lombardi's best coaching jobs as OU’s returning pitchers combined for three wins, one start, 13.2 innings and 13 strikeouts from 2013. Nevertheless, Stanford transfer Kelsey Stevens joined the squad and proceeded to tie for the nation's lead in wins with 38 to earn All-Region and All-Conference honors. In addition, sophomore catcher Whitney Ellis, who had to replace three-time All-American Jessica Shults, threw out a nation's best 61.5 percent (16 of 26) of would-be basestealers.
Lombardi also developed two-time USA Softball Player of the Year Keilani Ricketts, a four-time All-American who led the Sooners to the 2013 national title while finishing 35-1 and throwing six no-hitters. Ricketts finished her career in the NCAA top 12 in multiple categories, including ninth with 133 career victories and 11th with 1,605 career strikeouts.
In 2013, Ricketts and Michelle Gascoigne combined to give the Sooners one of the most dominant seasons in program history. Ricketts went 35-1 and Gascoigne was 18-3, while each had an ERA under 1.23 and held opponents' batting averages under .160. Ricketts threw 16 shutouts, Gascoigne threw eight and the pair combined on three more. As a team, the Sooners led the country in earned run average at 1.16, the lowest by a staff since Florida's 0.69 mark in 2009. It was also the second year in a row that OU boasted the country's top ERA, the first time a program led in back-to-back years since 2005-06.
Ricketts earned the first of two straight USA Softball Player of the Year honors in 2012 after bettering her own program single-season strikeout record with 457. She was second nationally in strikeouts, strikeouts per seven innings (11.0), ERA (1.08) and wins (37), and was third with 15 shutouts. As a staff, the 2012 Sooners set program records for both strikeouts and strikeouts per seven innings.
Lombardi's battery of Ricketts and Shults each earned All-American honors in 2011, with Ricketts striking out a then-school-record 452, including a OU single-game record 19 against Iona. Lombardi guided Ricketts to second team All-America honors as a freshman in 2010, while senior catcher Lindsey Vandever earned Big-12 Defensive Player of the year honors. With a pitching staff of two sophomores and two freshmen, Lombardi aided OU in producing a 1.39 ERA, a mark that was No. 2 in the nation.
Catcher Heather Scaglione earned two straight All-America first team honors in 2004 and 2005 under Lombardi’s tutelage. The only two-time first team All-American in school history was also named the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year in those same years. Scaglione remains the only player in Big 12 history to receive the honor twice.
During Oklahoma’s 2000 national championship run, Lombardi’s staff registered a 1.44 ERA to rank second in the Big-12 and 25th in the nation. The staff posted 24 shutouts and 301 strikeouts.
In her first year on the coaching staff as a student assistant in 1997, the OU pitching staff produced one of the lowest earned run averages in school history and in the country.
The Glendale, Ariz., native ended her two-year Sooner playing career with a spectacular senior season in 1996, when she hit .345 to lead OU during its Big 12 Conference championship run.
She was also instrumental in helping Jill Most and Jennifer Jaime record two of the best pitching seasons in school history. Lombardi caught all three of Most's wins in OU's conference tournament games and was named to the all-tournament team after going 3-for-8 (.375) at the plate with a triple, four RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base.
Lombardi graduated from Oklahoma in 1997 with a degree in health and sports science. She and her husband, John, were married on Nov. 10, 2000. The couple has one son, Gianni Thomas.