SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Exactly two weeks after becoming the head softball coach at Sacramento State, Lori Perez quickly completed her coaching staff by hiring assistants Nichole Willis and Danielle Kaminaka today.
Willis and Kaminaka have a combined 12 years of coaching experience, and both were standout players at Fresno State and Loyola Marymount, respectively.
"I am excited to announce the hiring of Nichole Willis and Danielle Kaminaka," Perez said. "They bring knowledge and experience as players at the Division I level. In addition, they know the hard work and dedication coaching at this level requires and are focused on building confidence within our team. I have no doubt they will be instrumental in our quest to win a Big Sky Conference championship this year."
Willis, who played four years at Fresno State, spent the last three seasons (2011-13) as an assistant coach at UC San Diego. With the Tritons, she helped coach the team to a combined 123-61 overall record, including a 2011 national championship and a 2012 national runner-up finish.
In fact, UC San Diego won a school-record 45 games in 2011 and 2012, and Willis was part of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division II National Coaching Staff of the Year in 2011, and the NFCA West Region Coaching Staff of the Year in 2012.
Prior to UC San Diego, Willis was a varsity assistant coach for Clovis High School (2010) and an assistant with the Fresno Force U18 Gold club team (2007-08) that made back-to-back appearances at Nationals.
The Clovis, Calif., native was a four-year starting catcher at Fresno State (2004-07) where she caught Olympians Jamie Southern and Robin Mackin. A 2007 Easton first team All-American, two-time all-West Region, three-time first team all-Western Athletic Conference, three-time preseason all-WAC, and 2004 WAC Freshman of the Year, Willis helped Fresno State to four straight NCAA Regional appearances and a combined 175-69 overall record and 64-11 conference mark.
A career .299 hitter, she had 39 doubles, 23 home runs and 127 RBIs in 725 at-bats during her four seasons with the Bulldogs. Defensively, she threw out 54.1 percent of would-be base stealers (59-for-109). Willis graduated from Fresno State with a kinesiology degree in 2008.
"Nichole has a great deal of knowledge as a former catcher and hitter at the highest level," Perez said. "She will be a vital asset in working with our catchers and pitching staff. She brings an enthusiasm for the game, and a love for working with student-athletes that I know our players will gravitate towards."
Kaminaka, who played four years at Loyola Marymount, has assistant coaching stops at Colgate (2013) and Loyola Marymount (2009-12). She was an assistant coach with her alma mater in 2011 and 2012, and a graduate assistant in 2009 and 2010.
As an assistant at Loyola Marymount, she helped coach the team to a combined 110 wins over four seasons, including two years with at least 32 victories. The Lions went 45-35 in conference play over that span, including a 16-4 league mark in 2011.
Prior to Loyola Marymount, she coached one season at Southwestern Community College (Chula Vista, Calif.) in 2008 where the team made a 12-game improvement in conference play to 14-2 after the team had gone 2-12 in 2007.
The Vista, Calif., native was a four-year starting third baseman at Loyola Marymount (2002-05) where she broke into the Lions' record book in a big way. A three-time first team all-Pacific Coast Softball Conference performer during her career, she was the PCSC Player of the Year and a second team NFCA all-Pacific Region selection in 2004 after she set the then-school record with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs. As a senior in 2005, she won the PCSC Scholar-Athlete of the Year award and was a first team academic all-district selection after leading the squad to a 34-20 overall record, a 16-4 PCSC mark and the school's first-ever NCAA Regional appearance.
During her four seasons as a player, the Lions combined for a 138-87 overall record and 58-25 conference mark. A career .326 hitter, she ranks among the top eight players in Loyola Marymount history in 11 different categories, including second in career home runs (47), doubles (43), walks (110), slugging percentage (.623) and on-base percentage (.434), as well as third in RBIs (149). She received both her master's degree (2010) and bachelor's degree (2005) in English Literature at Loyola Marymount.
"Danielle has the experience as a player and coach to connect with our hitters and get the best out of them when the game is on the line," Perez said. "She understands the challenges this level presents and the resiliency it takes to be successful."
April 25, 2014 SOFTBALL SWEEPS WEBER STATE, NOW 12-4 IN CONFERENCE PLAY
April 24, 2014 SOFTBALL TO PLAY HUGE THREE-GAME SERIES AT WEBER STATE
April 23, 2014 SOFTBALL FALLS TO CAL IN FINAL NON-CONFERENCE GAME
April 17, 2014 SOFTBALL PLAYS ITS FINAL REGULAR SEASON HOME GAMES THIS WEEK
April 11, 2014 SOFTBALL SPLITS A DOUBLEHEADER AT IDAHO STATE
April 8, 2014 MARGULIES LEADS SOFTBALL TO 9-5 VICTORY AT PACIFIC
March 28, 2014 SOFTBALL SPLITS HOME DOUBLEHEADER WITH SOUTHERN UTAH
March 26, 2014 SOFTBALL’S GAME TODAY AT CAL POSTPONED BECAUSE OF RAIN
March 24, 2014 YERBY RECIPIENT OF BIG SKY PITCHER OF THE WEEK HONORS
March 22, 2014 SOFTBALL COMPLETES 3-GAME SWEEP OF NORTH DAKOTA WITH 9-0 WIN
March 12, 2014 SOFTBALL DROPS A PAIR OF GAMES AT NEVADA
March 11, 2014 LINDY WINKLER’S #3 TO BE RETIRED BY SOFTBALL ON SATURDAY
March 9, 2014 SOFTBALL CONCLUDES TOURNAMENT WITH 6-2 LOSS TO CAL POLY
March 4, 2014 SOFTBALL WINS ITS HOME OPENER OVER UC DAVIS, 5-0
March 3, 2014 SOFTBALL TO PLAY HOME OPENER TUESDAY VS. UC DAVIS
February 27, 2014 WINNERS OF FIVE OF THE LAST SEVEN, SOFTBALL TRAVELS TO MORAGA THIS WEEK
February 25, 2014 BROOKS EARNS BIG SKY SOFTBALL PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS
February 23, 2014 BROOKS’ SHUTOUT AND 7-RUN INNING LEAD SOFTBALL TO 7-0 WIN VS. SAN DIEGO
February 22, 2014 STROUD’S GEM LEADS SOFTBALL TO SPLIT IN SECOND DAY OF BRONCO CLASSIC
February 21, 2014 BROOKS’ 10 STRIKEOUTS LEADS SOFTBALL TO 3-1 WIN OVER SANTA CLARA
February 20, 2014 SOFTBALL PLAYS FOUR GAMES OVER THREE DAYS IN SANTA CLARA
February 16, 2014 SOFTBALL STRANDS 10 RUNNERS IN 1-0 LOSS TO UC RIVERSIDE
February 15, 2014 SOFTBALL POUNDS OUT 11 RUNS AND 15 HITS IN VICTORY OVER CSU BAKERSFIELD
February 15, 2014 SOFTBALL MERCY RULES UC RIVERSIDE, 9-1
February 14, 2014 DEFENSE HURTS SOFTBALL IN 3-2 EXTRA INNING LOSS TO UC SANTA BARBARA
February 14, 2014 SOFTBALL FALLS AT FRESNO STATE, 5-1
February 12, 2014 SOFTBALL DROPS SEASON OPENER AT UC DAVIS, 1-0
February 11, 2014 SOFTBALL OPENS SEASON WEDNESDAY AT UC DAVIS
February 5, 2014 2014 SOFTBALL SEASON OUTLOOK
January 23, 2014 SOFTBALL TO GET A FRESH LOOK IN 2014
January 22, 2014 SOFTBALL AND SOCCER RECEIVE NEW SCOREBOARDS
January 15, 2014 SOFTBALL SELECTED SECOND IN THE BIG SKY PRESEASON COACHES POLL
November 15, 2013 SOFTBALL SIGNS LOCAL PRODUCTS HINTON, MALIGAD AND MARTIN
November 5, 2013 2014 SOFTBALL SCHEDULE RELEASED
October 18, 2013 BLAIR AND HARTMAN BOTH RECIPIENTS OF NFCA SCHOLAR-ATHLETE ACCOLADES
August 28, 2013 WILLIS AND KAMINAKA HIRED AS SOFTBALL ASSISTANT COACHES
August 14, 2013 LORI PEREZ NAMED INTERIM HEAD SOFTBALL COACH