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WCWS: More males getting into softball coaching

By Anthony Slater, Staff Writer, Published: June 4, 2011

The third-base coaching box at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium has turned into a teenage clubhouse: No Girls Allowed.

With the elimination of Oklahoma's Patty Gasso and California's Diane Ninemire on Saturday, all four remaining head coaches are men.

But this was no surprise result. It was a development that has been brewing for some time.

Before 2006, the record for most male coaches in the annual event was only four. And that had only happened twice.

But, in four of the last five seasons, the eight-team field has featured five men roaming the coaching box.

This year, that number has grown to a record six.

Sharon Cessna, the NCAA's Director of Championships, said that trend is directly related to an influx of men who have taken interest in the profession.

“There are just a lot of opportunities out there,” Cessna said. “And a lot of male coaches who used to be in the baseball world have found their way to the softball world.”

Alabama's Patrick Murphy is one of those coaches. Right after his graduation from Northern Iowa, Murphy received a ninth-month contract as a graduate assistant at Louisiana-Lafayette.

“I would help with softball in the spring and fall,” Murphy said. “But in the summer, I would go back to Iowa and help out with the high school baseball teams.”

Although he enjoyed learning the intricacies of softball in the early 1990s, Murphy couldn't escape his affection for baseball.

“At the time, softball players rarely hit home runs,” Murphy said. “So my enjoyment was going home to Iowa and coaching baseball and watching the ball go over the fence.”

But he would keep going back every year for softball. And he noticed an upward trend in the competitiveness of the game.

“The athletes have gotten so much better it is incredible. Night and day,” Murphy said. “It is a much better game with better athletes.”

And now, in his 13th season leading the Crimson Tide, Murphy said the evolution of the game is what has brought so much exposure.

“To me, softball is the most equivalent to a male sport as any,” Murphy said. “You can see the ball go over the fence, you can see pitchers throwing gas, you can see fielders making plays and you can see great arms behind the plate. But you can't see a female dunk like LeBron James.”

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