Head Coach | Sarah Willis
Sarah Willis embarks upon her third season as head coach of the Bowling Green State University softball program in the 2017-18 academic year. Willis officially joined the Falcon family on July 1, 2015.
Under her guidance, the Falcons have made progress toward a return to the top of the Mid-American Conference. BGSU amassed much-improved statistics in multiple categories in 2017, including in the win column.
"It's an honor to lead the softball program at Bowling Green State University," said Willis at the time of her hiring. "The Falcons have an exceptionally rich academic and athletic tradition and I welcome the opportunity to unite in the efforts to achieve national prominence for the BGSU softball program.
"This is a great university that plays in an extremely competitive softball conference. I am thrilled to be a Falcon."
In her first year with the Falcons, the team went 18-36 overall and 6-17 in MAC play. And, in 2017, the team was picked to finish sixth (i.e., last) in the East Division in the preseason coaches' poll. But, the Falcons were in the race for a MAC Tournament berth until the final day of the regular season.
BGSU won six more games in 2017 than in '16, and the team's MAC win total was four victories higher than the previous year. BG went 24-32 overall and 10-14 in league action, and the Falcons finished as close to first place as to last place in the East Division.
BGSU nearly tripled the home win total from the previous year, despite playing fewer games at Meserve Field. The Brown and Orange went 8-3 at Meserve in 2017 after posting a 3-11 home mark in '16.
Falcon pitchers threw 10 complete games, including four shutouts, in the 11 home games in 2017.
BGSU's 2017 victories included a 3-2, neutral-site win over Oklahoma State, a team that won 38 games, advanced to an NCAA Regional and finished the year ranked 25th in the nation.
Willis came to Northwest Ohio after a highly-successful stint on the staff at the University of Dayton. During the 2015 season, her first with UD, Willis helped the Flyers to a 39-14 overall record and an Atlantic 10 Conference mark of 20-2. UD broke the school record for wins in a season, and the Flyers earned the first A-10 regular-season title in program history. Dayton also advanced to the A-10 Tournament Championship final for the first time in history.
Willis worked with the Flyer pitching staff, achieving tremendous success in '15. The staff led the conference and ranked among the top-25 in the nation in several categories. UD led the league in wins, saves (10), winning percentage (.736), strikeouts (353), shutouts (12), fewest runs allowed (155) and fewest earned runs allowed (118). The Flyers also surrendered the fewest hits, doubles, triples and homers of any A-10 team in 2015.
The Willis-led pitching corps included the 2015 Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year in Kayla English, as well as the A-10's Rookie of the Year in Manda Cash. English earned all-conference first-team honors, while Cash was named to the second team. Additionally, English was named the A-10 Pitcher of the Week on four occasions, while Cash earned four A-10 Rookie-of-the-Week honors. Cash set the school single-season saves record, leading the nation in that category, and she earned the final NFCA National Pitcher-of-the-Week honor of the 2015 season.
Willis joined the Dayton program after spending two seasons (2012-14) as an assistant coach as Southeast Missouri State University. She also spent several years (2010-12) as an assistant coach at Princeton University. Willis coached the pitchers, catchers and outfielders at Princeton, and her duties at SEMO included skill instruction and player physical, mental and emotional development of pitchers/catchers/hitters on a day-to-day basis.
Willis was the recruiting coordinator for both the Tigers and the Redhawks.
In 2012, Willis spent the summer with the North Carolina Diamonds of the NPF where she coached along with Teresa Wilson, one of the top pitching instructors in the nation. Willis assisted in skill instruction and management of pitchers, catchers, outfielders and offense along with helping develop individualized training programs for the athletes.
Willis began her coaching career as a student assistant coach at Texas Tech University, her alma mater. She pitched for the Red Raiders from 2005-08, and finished her career with 22 wins and 298 strikeouts in 113 appearances. She was named to the Texas Tech dean's and president's honor lists. In 2007, Willis had the highest GPA of any female athlete at the school.
Willis graduated from Texas Tech in 2008, with a bachelor's degree in psychology. She went on to earn her master's degree in exercise and sport sciences from TTU in 2010.
Willis and her husband, Joe, reside in Bowling Green. They have one daughter, Zoey, who was born on Jan. 10, 2017.