Fresno Softball Action Pictures, October 2013. Photos by Geoff Thurner, Copyright 2013.
Sara Pickering returns for her second season as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs after amassing a wealth of softball knowledge and coaching experience with several of the nation's finest programs.
With the 'Dogs, she oversees the team's infield defense, helps coordinate its hitting, handles team travel, and assists in other aspects of recruiting and administrative duties.
In her first season in the Valley, she helped lead the 'Dogs to a 30-24 mark overall in 2013 and second place in the Mountain West with a 11-7 MW record.
Defensively, Fresno State ranked 24th nationally in fielding (.971), and also stood among the national leaders in triples (12th, 0.31 per game), and stolen bases (29th, 1.61 p/g).
Outfielder Brenna Moss topped the nation in triples per game (0.18) and ranked top 100 in stolen bases (15th, 0.67 p/g) and toughest to strike out (72nd, 1:16.3 at-bats), as did outfielder Michelle Solomon (triples, 95th, 3).
Among MW rolls, the team was also easy to spot as it led categories in fielding (.971) and stolen bases (1.61 p/g), and stood second in triples (0.31 p/g).
Among school all-time lists, the team shattered the season stolen base record in '13 with 87 swipes, while Moss reset the individual mark with 34 thefts.
In return for their excellence on the field, Fresno State celebrated a league-leading four All-MW selections by Moss, pitcher Jill Compton, catcher Paige Gumz and infielder Vonnie Martin.
The team's hard work off the field was equally recognized with nine MW All-Academic nods (Stesha Brazil, Harris, Taylor Langdon, Martin, Kelly Megee, Moss, Brooke Ortiz, Runge and Whitney Smith) and one Academic All-District selection (Runge).
Prior to joining the `Dogs, Pickering spent two seasons coaching at Cal State Fullerton. She spent a season as the volunteer assistant and was promoted to a full-time assistant coaching position with the Titans in July of 2011.
Pickering spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons as an assistant coach with the Seminoles under head coach Lonni Alameda, specializing with the FSU infielders and hitters. She helped guide FSU to its best start since 1993 (20-1) and helped the squad hit .297 as a team. In 2009, the Seminoles also ranked among the top 25 nationally in fielding percentage (.971).
From 2003-08, Pickering served as an assistant coach at UNLV. During her time, the Rebels won at least 25 games in each of her five seasons, including a 44-19 mark in 2005 that was capped by an NCAA Tournament bid (and its first postseason trip in nine seasons). Afterward, UNLV hit no fewer than 43 home runs as a team in a season (including a program-best 50 in 2005), and she helped coach one NFCA All-American, five NFCA All-West Region honorees, and 14 All-Mountain West Conference selections.
In the years prior, she served an assistant coach for the Cardinal from 1998-2003, and helped the team advance to five consecutive NCAA Regionals. While at Stanford, she worked primarily with the defense and as the team's hitting coach, she also recruited and helped with community relations.
As a player, Pickering was the first two-time, first-team All-American at Washington. She started every game at second base during her four-year career from 1994-97, a span of 271 games. A three-time team co-captain, she helped lead the Huskies to their first Pacific-10 Conference title in 1996 and left the program with 15 records to her name, including an NCAA record 91 career doubles. During her career, UW was the national runner-up in 1996 and an WCWS advancer in '97 after it made NCAA Regional appearances her first two seasons.
Perhaps her most stunning accomplishment came off the field, as a cancer survivor. Pickering was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease and underwent a life-saving stem cell transplant in 2001. She has been in remission for over 10 years. To further her cause, she raised more than $5,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by completing the 2003 Portland Marathon.
While at UNLV, she helped the fight against cancer as the softball team annually hosted a "K-Out Cancer Day" to help benefit the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation. The Rebels also participated in the NCCF's "Champions Run for Life" event each year.
Pickering, a native of Corona, Calif., graduated from Washington in 1998 with a degree in sociology. She also played professionally in the Women's Professional Softball League (WPSL) with the Virginia Roadsters and Arizona Heat. She was inducted into the Corona High School Hall of Fame in 2009.