KRISTIN VESELY | HEAD COACH
Former Oklahoma All-American Kristin Vesely was named the University of Houston's second softball head coach on June 10, 2016.
Vesely originally joined the Houston family in 2011 as the Cougars' assistant coach before being promoted to associate head coach in 2014.
Vesely has coached several players to national prominence including an NFCA All-American (2), NFCA All-Region team members (17), American Athletic Conference Co-Player of the Year (1), American Athletic Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year (1), All-Conference players (31) and Conference USA Player of the Year (2).
2018 | HOUSTON HEAD COACH
In 2018, Vesely guided Houston to its second consecutive second-place finish in The American and the program’s eighth appearance in the NCAA Softball Championship with an at-large berth, the program's first since 2014. Tabbed a No. 3 seed in the Baton Rouge Regional, the Cougars finished the season with a 37-22 overall record and 13-9 mark in The American.
Junior Savannah Heebner was named to the 2018 National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I All-America Second Team as a utility player/pitcher, collecting Houston’s sixth All-America honor and first since 2014. Heebner posted a 26-10 record and 1.15 ERA in 32 starts with 27 complete games and 13 shutouts. Her 13 shutouts rank second all-time at Houston in a single season and tied for third in the nation in 2018, while her 26 wins, 1.15 ERA and 27 complete games rank third all-time at Houston in a single season.
After opening the season with two wins over Texas Tech and one over Boston College, the Cougars made their first international trip in program history with their participation in the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
In Mexico, the Cougars took No. 3/3 ranked Oregon, a Women’s College World Series participant, to the wire in a 1-0 pitcher’s duel and knocked off No. 15/18 Ole Miss, 6-0. At the conclusion of the tournament, sophomores Arielle James and Sarah Queen, and redshirt junior Sarah Barker were each named to the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge All-Tournament Team.
At Cougar Softball Stadium, Houston authored an 8-0 start by sweeping through its first two host tournaments for the program’s best home start since 2008.
With it’s 2-0 victory over UNLV on February 24, Houston recorded its 600th win in program history.
In game two of a doubleheader at Sam Houston State on March 20, freshman first baseman Tierrah Williams finished with school-record 20 putouts. Williams also hit two grand slams, hitting a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam in a 6-2 victory over Eastern Kentucky on March 17 and one against Memphis in the team’s regular-season finale on May 6.
The Cougars also tied three other single-game records. Queen tied the mark for most assists in a single game twice with eight against both Iowa State on March 10 and UCF on March 29. In the series finale against the Knights, Queen, James and sophomore first baseman Kelli Montgomery combined to tie the mark for the most double plays with three 5-4-3 double plays, and against Wichita State on April 13, Houston recorded two triples to tie the program record for the most in a single game.
At the conclusion of the regular season, five Houston players garnered postseason honors. Heebner was named The American Co-Pitcher of the Year and was joined by Queen on The American First Team. James and junior right fielder Maya Thomas were named to the Second Team, and freshman designated player Aspen Howie was named to the All-Rookie Team. With Heebner’s pitching laurel, the Cougars collected their third overall major award as a member of The American, with all coming under Vesely.
Houston also received The American Team Academic Award as part of the league’s postseason honors. The Cougars garnered the mark for having the highest cumulative GPA amongst conference members at 3.42. The accolade is the second straight for Houston and third overall since the inception of The American.
For their efforts, James and freshman first baseman Tierrah Williams were named to The American Championship All-Tournament Team.
Heebner also highlighted three NFCA All-Region selections. Heebner was named to the first team, while James and Queen were named to the second and third team, respectively.
2017 | HOUSTON HEAD COACH
In her first season at the helm, Vesely led the Cougars to a 30-25 overall record and 12-6 mark in American Athletic Conference play. The Cougars finished in second place in The American for the regular season and added a runner-up finish at The American Championship. The two finishes are the program's highest respective finishes as a member of the league.
The Cougars led The American in batting average (.302), on base percentage (.383), hits (437), runs (286) and RBI (250) in 2017. Houston also finished second in slugging percentage (.424), home runs (34), walks (33) and opponent batting average (.260).
Individually, Thomas finished second in conference in batting average (.435), a mark that stood 14th in the country, and on base percentage (.463). Senior utility player Shelby Miller led the league in RBI (51) and was third in slugging percentage (.619), while James led all freshmen in bating average (.354), on base percentage (.424), hits (43) and runs (63).
The Cougars picked up a plethora of conference accolades at the conclusion of the regular season. Miller was named Co-Player of the Year and James was tabbed Rookie of the Year. The duo was joined by Thomas and sophomore utility player/pitcher Savannah Heebner on The American First Team. James and pitcher Trystan Melancon were also on the league’s All-Rookie Team.
At the conclusion of The American Championship, Heebner, Sarah Barker, Thomas and Kaylin Crumpton were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Houston also had four players named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I All-Region Teams. Heebner was named to the first team, as James and Miller were tabbed to the second team. Thomas rounded out the honors with a third-team selection.
ASSISTANT COACH AT HOUSTON
In her six seasons as an assistant coach/associate head coach, the Cougars averaged 431 hits and a .287 batting average. Her leadership also led to 284 home runs and 3,916 total bases in the six-year stretch.
Vesely coached center fielder Katie St. Pierre (2013-16) to two career school records offensively -- on base percentage (.459) and stolen bases (64). St. Pierre, who ranked in the top 10 nationally with her .457 on base percentage in 2016, was a two-time NFCA All-Region selection and four-time all-conference player.
In 2016, she tutored three freshmen -- Heebner, Thomas and Elise LeBeouf -- to The American honors and spots on the first All-Rookie Team. Heebner was the first unanimous First Team selection, while Thomas was transformed into a top-notch slapper, tallying 48 bunt singles. Through Vesely's hitting techniques, LeBeouf was one of the Cougars best hitters with a 76 percent RBI-to-hit ratio.
In 2015, Vesely's offense recorded the second lowest strikeout total as a team (193). Shortstop Selena Hernandez ranked second in the nation for toughest to strikeout as she posted only four strikeouts the entire season. Hernandez was named to The American Second Team. She also helped Julana Shrum to her best season at the plate. Shrum posted a .302 batting average with 10 home runs and 31 RBI.
In 2014, her batters knocked in runs 60 percent of the time when recording a hit, the highest RBI-to-Hit ratio in program history. Vesely coached senior Haley Outon and sophomore Katie St. Pierre to NFCA All-Region Honors. Outon went on to earn a NFCA All-American honor and broke several home run records for the Cougars.
Recruited by Vesely, St. Pierre had the top season batting averages of the team for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
In 2013, Vesely helped guide catcher Haley Outon to C-USA Player of the Year honors after belting a league-leading 15 home runs and 60 RBI. Outon also led the league in slugging percentage (.731) and walks (41) as she set a school record for a single-season to show balance between her power and patience.
Holly Anderson combined with Outon to give Houston a powerful 1-2 punch in the lineup as she paced the C-USA in batting average (.374) and doubles (15), while ranking second behind Outon in home runs and RBI. Both student-athletes earned NFCA All-Region honors for the second straight year, while freshman center fielder Katie St. Pierre joined them on the award platform. All three earned First Team honors from C-USA as Houston led in 12 offensive categories.
Vesely imparted some of her wisdom in helping Haley Outon smash 22 home runs and 64 RBI en route to being an NFCA All-American in 2012, setting school records for both in the process.
Outon, Holly Anderson and Melissa Gregson were all First Team C-USA honorees following their strong performances at the plate in 2012.
The native of Phoenix, Ariz., shares plenty of elite softball experience with the team. A USA Player of the Year semifinalist during her junior season and a quarterfinalist during her senior campaign at Oklahoma, Vesely has a wide selection of stories to draw from.
The Sooners all-time hits leader (293) started all but four games in the outfield and chipped in a couple of spot starts behind the plate during her freshman year in Norman, Okla. She was named to the All-Big 12 team in each of her four years and an NFCA All-American as a junior and senior.
Vesely held a 73-game errorless streak that stretched from her junior to senior seasons, and the 97 hits she recorded as a junior still stands as the most in a single season by any Big 12 player.
Aside from being one of the most decorated players in Oklahoma's storied softball program, Vesely competed all four years on the Sooners' soccer team, as well. She helped guide the Sooners to their best start in program history as they posted an 11-1 record to open her senior season en route to earning a Big 12 Tournament berth.
Following the completion of her collegiate career, the New England Riptide took Vesely in the first round of the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) 2006 College Player Draft. The fourth-overall selection played professionally for the organization for one season, winning the NPF Championship in 2006.
Following her playing days, Vesely got her start in coaching. She returned to Oklahoma to coach the Oklahoma Twisters, an under-14 traveling softball team. After three years of working with younger players, Vesely coached the Blanchard High School squad to a 24-3 record in 2010.
Vesely is married to the former Jazz Jackson. The couple resides in Houston.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
"I am very excited and proud of Kristin Vesely. Having coached her at Oklahoma and knowing what type of fierce competitor she is, I know she is the right fit for the University of Houston. She is gritty, an extremely hard worker and she knows the game. Her passion for the sport and her intensity will show through recruiting and preparation while her commitment to the game will benefit student-athlete development on and off the field."
- Oklahoma Softball Head Coach Patty Gasso
"I'm excited for Kristin and the University of Houston. She's a hard worker, very ambitious and loves the game. Having coached against her as a player and now as a coach, I know she's an intense competitor and has that fire in the belly that you want in a coach."
- Texas A&M Softball Head Coach Jo Evans
"Kristin Vesely was a fantastic player when I coached her. The transition from player to assistant coach to now head coach has been great for her. Her competitiveness and energy is exciting to watch and coach against. She is great with her players, really helping to shape them for the future."
- UNLV Softball Head Coach & Former USA Softball Assistant Coach Lisa Dodd
"This is a tremendous opportunity for Kristin. She's a great up-and-coming coach and was a phenomenal player for us (Oklahoma & Team USA). She is one that knows the game very well and is a great person on and off the field. I'm really happy and excited for her."
- LSU Softball Assistant Coach & Former USA Softball Assistant Coach Howard Dobson