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E-mail Coach Hays
Success has been a constant theme for Texas Tech softball coach Shanon Hays.
Already the winningest coach in program history, the Lubbock native enters his fifth season in the Red Raider dugout where he has led Texas Tech to four straight 30-win seasons and three trips to an NCAA Regional.
Since inheriting a program that was only 15-42 the year prior to his arrival, Tech has gone 151-77 under Hays, a .668 winning percentage that is among the best records nationally over the past four years. Add in his two seasons leading crosstown Lubbock Christian University and Hays is now 265-83 as a collegiate softball coach.
His work at Texas Tech has been one of the best transformations in softball over the past decade as he took a program that had not advanced to an NCAA Regional since 2001 and immediately led the Red Raiders to the championship game of the 2010 Stanford Regional.
The Red Raiders continued that success in the years following as well with selections to the Tucson Regional in 2011 and then the Seattle Regional in 2012 before narrowly missing out on the postseason a year ago.
Following his hire in May 2009, Hays spent the summer recruiting for that next spring where the Red Raiders, mixed with a group of returners and junior college transfers, finished 38-18 overall, a 23-win improvement from the previous season. Tech picked up victories over No. 7 Oklahoma State, No. 19 Florida State and No. 24 Baylor that year, marking the first time the Red Raiders had defeated a ranked opponent since the end of the 2007 season.
The Red Raiders added an additional upset victory at the Stanford Regional, knocking off the host Cardinal before falling to eventual College World Series participant Hawaii in the finale.
With the majority of that squad returning the following year, the Red Raiders wrapped the 2011 campaign with a 42-16 overall record that marked the highest winning percentage in school history. It was also just Tech's second 40-win season all-time as the Red Raiders were also 45-19 in 1998.
Tech opened the season with a school record 24-straight victories, including wins over No. 16 BYU and No. 12 California. The solid start helped the Red Raiders move into the top 25 of both major polls, breaking a decade-long drought where Tech had not appeared in the rankings since the end of the 1999 season. The Red Raiders climbed to as high as No. 19 during the year, the highest ranking in school history.
Hays became the program's first coach to lead the Red Raiders to multiple postseason appearances later in the year as Tech was the No. 2 seed in the Tucson Regional. After falling to New Mexico State in the tournament opener, Tech rallied to defeat both Harvard and the Aggies to eventually meet host Arizona in the regional finale.
The Red Raiders had possibly their best season under Hays in 2012 as Tech ended the year fifth in the Big 12 standings behind a 13-10 league record, which marked the program's highest finish and first winning conference record since 2001. Tech navigated a 13-game stretch against top-25 teams midway through league play where the Red Raiders finished 7-6 with series wins over No. 25 Baylor and at No. 9 Missouri along with a midweek victory over No. 5 Texas.
Tech wrapped the regular season with a No. 23 ranking in the rating-percentage index (RPI) poll, seven spots higher from where it ended 2011. The Red Raiders also appeared in the top-25 rankings before closing the season by receiving votes for the second-straight season.
For the first time in his tenure, though, Hays did not have the familiar faces of Emily Bledsoe, Logan Hall, Holley Gentsch, Ashley Hamada or Raven Richardson occupying spots in his lineup throughout the 2013 season.
Faced with his youngest roster to date, Hays was able to lead Tech to a 30-26 record that left the Red Raiders a few wins shy of advancing to the postseason for a fourth-straight season. The 30 wins, however, extended Tech's streak of recording at least 30 wins to four-straight seasons, the longest such run in program history.
School records have fallen in droves under Hays as Tech has broken over 20 single-season marks in just three seasons, including the majority of the offensive record book. In 2011 alone, the Red Raiders snapped the single-season records for batting average, runs, hits, doubles, home runs, grand slams, RBI, total bases, slugging percentage and walks.
Hays has regularly produced one of the top lineups in the nation as the Red Raiders spent most of the 2011 season with the highest batting average in the nation before ending the year fourth overall. Tech's .341 average that year was not only the highest in school history but it also snapped the Big 12 record that was previously set by Oklahoma in 2001. The Red Raiders averaged 7.17 runs per game, a mark that ranked fourth in the nation as well.
In addition to hitting for average, pitches have left the ball park in record numbers under Hays as Tech belted 58 in 2011 before smashing a school-record 66 a year later. The Red Raiders enter the 2014 season having hit 50 or more home runs in three-straight seasons after totaling 53 in 2013.
Eight of the highest single-season individual totals have come during Hays' tenure with Sandy James leading the group with a school-record 16 home runs in 2011. The top three leaders in career home runs - Mikey Kenney, James and Adriana Perez - all concluded their careers in 2013 with Kenney finishing with 45 homers over four seasons while James and Perez totaled 36 and 29 of their own after transferring to Tech.
While playing in a conference dominated by pitching, Tech has only been shut out 20 times under Hays as the Red Raiders have consistently been among the Big 12 leaders in most offensive categories. Over the past three seasons, only Texas has been shut out fewer times among current conference schools.
Six players - Cydney Allen, Emily Bledsoe, Logan Hall, James, Kenney, and Perez - have been honored with All-Big 12 or NFCA postseason awards since 2010. Kenney, who not only set the career home run record but the career marks for runs scored, RBI and walks as well, became the school's first All-Big 12 first team recipient since 2007 following the 2012 season as she was one of four Red Raiders on the all-conference teams, Tech's most since 2004.
Academics have also shined under Hays as Tech has earned 21 selections to the Academic All-Big 12 squads over the past four seasons, including nine in 2012 that ranked first among league schools. Four Red Raiders - Holley Gentsch, Ashley Hamada, Leah Legler and Brittany Talley - were also named to the Capital One Academic All-District teams a total of seven times in the past three seasons as well.
Gentsch, who remains with the program as a graduate student manager, earned the highest scholastic honor in program history in 2011 as she was named to the Capital One Academic All-America second team after being an all-district recipient for the third-straight season. Gentsch picked up third-team All-America honors the following year.
Tech's transformation on the field should come as little surprise after Hays' work at nearby Lubbock Christian. Following his appointment as the program's first head softball coach in 2006, Hays worked tirelessly for a full academic year, recruiting a full team for LCU's first season in 2008.
The Lady Chaps did not disappoint in their inaugural season, either, compiling a 60-9 record and claiming the NAIA National Championship which earned Hays NAIA National Coach of the Year honors. LCU advanced to the National Title series again the following year, finishing as the runner-up which eventually ended Hays' tenure with the Lady Chaps, who were 114-16 during that time.
His success at LCU garnered two Sooner Athletic Conference Coach of the Year accolades, while his players were also recognized at the national level with NFCA and NAIA first team All-Americans
Hays turned to softball after a successful career as a basketball coach that included two seasons on the Texas Tech bench as an assistant coach from 1999-2001 under James Dickey. He is the first person at Texas Tech to coach two completely different sports (one men's and now one women's).
Prior to accepting the softball position at LCU, Hays was the associate head men's basketball coach at the University of Houston in 2005-06. Working under head coach Tom Penders, Hays found his knack as a recruiter, helping sign one of the nation's top 15 recruiting classes in only his first season where the Cougars won 18 games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years.
Hays began his collegiate coaching career as the head men's basketball coach at Frank Phillips College in 1995-96 where he earned Western Junior College Athletic Conference (WJCAC) Coach of the Year honors after the Plainsmen recorded a 19-9 record.
After a year, Hays moved to Abilene Christian University where he amassed a 58-26 record from 1996-99. He led the Wildcats to the NCAA Division II "Sweet 16" during the 1998-99 season, the furthest ACU had advanced in the national tournament since the late 1960s.
Following his two-year stint at Tech, Hays returned to ACU as the school's athletic director for an academic year. The coaching bug sparked again a year later, though, as he accepted the head coaching position at Midland College where he led the Chaparrals to a 30-7 record and a third-place finish at the NJCAA National Tournament in his only season at the school. Midland claimed both the Region V and WJCAC championships, earning Hays WJCAC and Region V Coach of the Year honors.
In each coaching stop, Hays has left as the most-successful head coach in school history according to winning percentage. He ended his collegiate basketball tenure with a 107-42 record as a head coach.
Coaching is a part of Hays' life that probably was inherited at birth.
The son of legendary Texas Tech baseball coach Larry Hays, Shanon Hays has been in locker rooms and dugouts for most of his life as his father spent 17 years as the skipper at LCU before, similar to his son, moving to Texas Tech and immediately turning the Red Raiders into one of the top programs nationally.
Larry Hays amassed 1,509 career wins over his 38 seasons at both LCU and Tech, a figure that still ranks fifth all-time in NCAA history. When not coaching on the diamond, Larry Hays could also be found on the fastpitch softball circuit as he pitched for several of the top local and national men's teams each summer.
Like his father, Shanon Hays and his brother, Daren Hays, both began playing fastpitch throughout their youth, traveling to several of the top men's tournaments throughout the country.
Following Shanon Hays' departure to Tech, Larry Hays replaced him as LCU's head coach for one season before Daren Hays, a former Texas Tech assistant baseball coach and director of operations, accepted the position to lead the Lady Chaps beginning with the 2011 season.
Shanon Hays began and ended his college career at LCU, graduating in 1991 with his degree in education after also attending Texas Tech and competing from 1988-1990 for his father on the Red Raider baseball team. He also was a member of LCU's baseball and basketball teams prior to that.
Hays graduated from Lubbock Monterey High School in 1986 and makes his home in Lubbock with his wife, Tina, two sons, Hunter and Heath, and daughter, Hampton.
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