Jessica Allister enters her second season as head coach in 2018-19.
Stanford displayed noticeable improvement during Allister’s first season, finishing with its most overall and conference wins since 2014. The Cardinal produced a six-game winning streak in March, the program’s longest since a 13-game unbeaten stretch four years ago. Stanford also earned wins over UCLA and Arizona – both of which were ranked in the top-10 at the time – in the same season for the first time since 2013.
Allister, the fourth head coach in program history, joined the Cardinal after leading Minnesota for seven seasons. She guided the Gophers to unprecedented heights in 2017, registering a program-best 56-5 record and earning the first No. 1 national ranking in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll in program history.
Allister accumulated a 290-107 (.730) record at Minnesota and has a 314-138 (.695) overall record as a head coach. Allister achieved her 300th career coaching victory on Feb. 25, 2018 as Stanford defeated Santa Clara 2-1 at Smith Family Stadium.
A second-team All-American catcher in 2004, Allister helped lead the Cardinal to Women's College World Series appearances in 2001 and 2004.
"Stanford is home," said Allister. "Stanford has always been home. I had an amazing experience as an athlete and have always been a proud member of the Stanford community. To be able to come back and lead my alma mater was a dream come true."
Allister produced one of the best individual careers in Stanford history as a four-year starting catcher. She holds the record for most games played (266) and graduated among the top 10 in school history in numerous career categories including fielding percentage (.994), home runs (32), RBI (162), slugging percentage (.473), doubles (47), hits (217), putouts (1103) and batting average (.283).
Allister was a three-time all-conference selection, led the team to four NCAA Regional appearances and started at catcher in both of Stanford's Women's College World Series appearances.
"There is not a better person who embodies and understands what it takes to be a Cardinal," said Jessica Mendoza, a teammate of Allister's during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. "Having played with her at Stanford, and watching her lead the team to two Women's College World Series appearances, she understands how to win at the highest level. But more importantly, she gets what it takes to be a student-athlete at Stanford."
During her freshman season in 2001, Allister earned all-region recognition and helped lead the Cardinal to a program-record 54 victories.
"Some people are just born leaders," said Ramona Shelburne, a senior during Allister's freshman season in 2001 and a senior writer for ESPN.com. "I remember when she was a freshman catcher back in 2000-01 and she already had the presence and confidence to lead our pitching staff. We went to the first Women's College World Series that year in Stanford softball history and I don't think it's a coincidence. I would look back behind the plate at Allister calling pitches and setting the tone for our defense with so much confidence. She just made you feel good that she was in charge.”
"And now, all these years later, she really is in charge. It's been awesome to watch her coaching career grow, but I can't say it's surprising. She's always had this in her. As an alum, I'm both so excited to see how she guides the program and so proud of her and the coach she's become."
Allister is in her second stint at Stanford, serving as an assistant coach from 2007-09. During the 2008 season, Allister helped guide the Cardinal to 49 victories – the second-highest win total in program history.
Allister led Minnesota to its best season ever in 2017, guiding the Gophers to their first regular season Big Ten title since 1991 and its third Big Ten Tournament championship in the past four seasons. She was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year and her staff earned NFCA Great Lakes Regional Coaching Staff of the Year honors. Seven of Minnesota's 17 NFCA All-America selections came during Allister's tenure.
At Minnesota, Allister's coaching success extended beyond the field with her teams producing 61 student-athletes who earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades. Three student-athletes earned CoSIDA Academic All-America recognition and seven received CoSIDA Academic All-District honors.
Prior to leading Minnesota, Allister was one of the country's top assistant coaches, helping Georgia (2005-06), Stanford (2007-09) and Oregon (2010) to NCAA postseason appearances, including five berths in a six-year period.
After graduating from Stanford with a degree in economics in 2004, Allister played professionally as a member of the New England Riptide of the National Pro Fastpitch League in 2004 and 2005.
Jessica Merchant joined the Stanford coaching staff in 2017-18.
Merchant was an assistant for Stanford head coach Jessica Allister at Minnesota for seven seasons. The duo helped lead the Gophers to a 290-107 record, including a program-best 56-5 mark in 2017 where the Gophers earned the first No. 1 national ranking in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll in program history.
“I worked with Coach Merchant for seven years at Minnesota and saw first hand the difference she makes in a program,” said Allister. “She does a great job with the infield and hitters, has a tremendous rapport with the student-athletes and is a talented recruiter. I knew I wanted her to continue to be a part of my staff.”
Minnesota claimed its first regular season Big Ten title since 1991 in 2017 and won three Big Ten Tournament championships in the last four seasons under Allister and Merchant.
Prior to her time at Minnesota, Merchant coached at Massachusetts (2007-2010) and at her alma mater, Michigan (2006).
Merchant was a two-time NFCA All-American at Michigan and guided the Wolverines to the 2005 NCAA Championship – the first in program history. She graduated in 2005 with a degree in sport management and communication. Merchant played professionally with the Connecticut Brackettes and the New England Riptide.
Tori Nyberg joined the Stanford coaching staff in 2017-18 and serves as pitching coach for the Cardinal.
Nyberg's responsibilities include managing the pitching staff, recruiting and serving as director of camps.
Nyberg, who was teammates with current head coach Jessica Allister at Stanford from 2001-03, returned to The Farm after leading Dominican in 2017. She made previous stops at Cal State Monterey Bay (2016), Northwestern (2004-10) and at the University of Illinois-Chicago (2003).
“Coach Nyberg was a great pitcher for Stanford and has excelled as a pitching coach since she left,” said Allister. “She understands the skill set necessary to compete at the highest level and has the teaching acumen to help her pitchers get there. She has head coaching experience and knows what goes into leading a successful program. I am so excited to bring her back to Stanford.”
While an assistant coach at Northwestern, Nyberg helped guide the Wildcats to two Big Ten Conference titles and multiple appearances in the Women’s College World Series. She and her coaching staff earned NCAA Division I Coaching Staff of the Year honors in 2006.
Nyberg has been active in the softball community off the field as well as the owner of Elevate Performance Counseling, LLC, which focuses on sports and performance counseling. Nyberg graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stanford and earned a master’s in counseling psychology from Northwestern.
Nyberg had a successful career with the Cardinal and was a two-time All-Pac-12 selection (2002, 2003), two-time NFCA Scholar Athlete (2002, 2003) and two-time Pac-12 All-Academic honoree (2002-2003).
Nyberg still ranks among the top 10 in Stanford history in career ERA (1.74), strikeouts (440), victories (53), innings pitched (551.0) and shutouts (14).