Jessica Allister enters her first season as the head coach of Stanford softball in 2017-18.
Allister, the fourth head coach in program history, joins the Cardinal after leading Minnesota for seven seasons. She led 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. She has accumulated a 290-107 (.730) overall record during her career.
"I am thrilled to welcome Jessica back to Stanford to lead the program she helped build," said Muir. "She was an elite competitor during her time on The Farm and has continued to excel in her coaching career. Jessica has established herself as an excellent coach and I believe she will push our student-athletes to be their best on the field, in the classroom and in the community."
It will be familiar territory for Allister who returns to Stanford where she was a second-team All-American as a catcher in 2004 and helped lead the Cardinal to Women's College World Series appearances in 2001 and 2004. She graduated in 2004 with a degree in economics.
"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 is a dream come true."
Allister produced one of the best individual careers in Stanford history as a four-year starting catcher. She still holds the record for most games played (266) and graduated among the top-10 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. There is no one better for this job than Jessica Allister."
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'd 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. I can't wait for the current team to meet her."
This will be Allister's second coaching position at Stanford after 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 and the Gophers have accumulated 29 NFCA All-Region honors.
Allister's coaching success goes 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 have 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 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 enters her first season with Stanford in 2017-18.
Merchant helped Allister lead Minnesota to a 290-107 record overall during seven seasons with the Gophers and helped the team achieve its best season in program history in 2017. The Gophers earned a program-best 56-5 record and 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 Stanford head coach Jessica 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 past four seasons. Merchant was recognized as part of the NFCA Great Lakes Regional Coaching Staff of the Year.
Merchant specializes in working with infielders and has coached players to multiple All-America, all-region and all-conference honors.
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 enters her first season as the Stanford softball assistant coach in 2017-18.
Nyberg, a teammate of Allister’s from 2001-02, returns to The Farm after leading Dominican this past season. 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. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stanford and master’s in counselling psychology from Northwestern and is a licensed counselor.
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 is ranked among the top 10 in Stanford history in career ERA (4th, 1.74), strikeouts (5th, 440), victories (6th, 53), innings pitched (6th, 551.0) and shutouts (7th, 14).