Griz hire assistant softball coach

MISSOULA — Melanie Meuchel, a Missoula native and 1997 graduate of Big Sky High, was hired this week by new Montana softball coach Jamie Pinkerton to be the program’s assistant coach. Meuchel has 11 years of college coaching experience, 10 of which have been at the NCAA Division I level.

Pinkerton, the former head coach at Tulsa and Arkansas and most recently an assistant at Iowa State, was hired last month to start a program that will begin fielding a team in 2014-15.

“Being a Missoulian, it’s always been a dream of mine and many others that the University of Montana would one day offer softball, so I’m very excited about the opportunity to work for Jamie and start the program with him,” Meuchel said. “Jamie has a vision of what he wants for his program, and I think Montana’s future players will respect him for his knowledge and work ethic and the success he’s had along the way. Having a coach like that in place at the start will be a huge factor in getting the program off on the right foot.”

Meuchel (pronounced Michael) was an All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference pitcher at Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University) and helped lead the Mavericks to the 2000 NCAA Division II Women’s College World Series.

She began her coaching career as a student assistant at Mesa State in 2002.

After two years as an assistant coach at McNeese State (2003-04), Meuchel spent the 2005 season as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma. The Sooners won 50 games in 2005 and advanced to an NCAA Super Regional. It would be the first of four trips to the NCAA tournament for Meuchel.

Meuchel joined the staff at Nevada in 2006 and coached the Wolf Pack for seven years. She worked under Michelle Gardner, who is now the head coach at Indiana, from 2006-08, then remained on staff when Matt Meuchel, her brother, took over the program.

Meuchel worked as the Wolf Pack’s pitching coach and recruiting coordinator as Nevada went to three NCAA tournaments and twice won 40 games. Meuchel coached Katie Holverson to Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year honors in 2009.

She stepped away from coaching following the 2012 season and returned to Missoula and the state where Meuchel’s parents, Mary and Dennis, have been involved with the coaching and instruction of softball for three decades. Matt Meuchel remains the head coach at Nevada.

“It was important to me, first of all, to hire somebody who’s been a pitching coach,” said Pinkerton. “To also get somebody with Montana ties who knows the high school coaches and knows the area and someone who has recruited this region is huge for the program in the early going.

“Melanie also has experience calling games and putting together a good scouting report, so I won’t feel like I have to watch over her and train her. Bringing Melanie on staff is really going to be beneficial to me and the program.”

Meuchel, who earned a degree in human performance and wellness (K-12) from Mesa State in 2002, begins her duties at Montana later this week.

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