Mitchell steps up to the plate

Austin Lane, Sports Editor

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CWU Athletic Director Dennis Francois has made his choice.

Alison Mitchell will take over as CWU’s new head coach for the softball program after previous head coach Mike Larabee left the program in October. Mitchell has had no previous coaching experience at the collegiate level, but has quite the resumé coaching high school softball.

Courtesy of CWU Athletic Communications

At Redmond High School (RHS), Mitchell was an assistant coach from 2013-15 and the head coach since 2016-19. Since 2013, RHS placed top 10 in the Washington Interscholastic Athletics Association (WIAA) state tournament every season. In 2017, RHS was the 3A state champion. Outside of that, the team won three division titles, two King county titles and a district title.

Mitchell previously coached at Skyline High School and Eastside Catholic High School, leading both to multiple WIAA postseason appearances.

Mitchell was simultaneously the head coach for the Washington Ladyhawks, a softball travel organization for middle and high school athletes that is unaffiliated with school athletics. With the Ladyhawks, Mitchell was a recruiting coach and infield and outfield instructor from 2006-09. In 2009, Mitchell became a head coach for the program. During her time coaching the Ladyhawks, the program produced athletes that went on to play collegiate softball in the PAC-12, Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and other prestigious DI conferences.

“Developing those athletes to prepare them for this level has made me a student of the game,” Mitchell said. “I look at the game in a totally different way than someone who has had college experience and has been trained by other people. You’re going to teach what you know and what I know is how to analyze the game from an outsiders point of view to what makes sense and what gets the best results for players.”

Celine Huerta, a former athlete who played under Mitchell for the Ladyhawks and graduated from CWU in 2018, said Mitchell has many skills that make her a good choice for the position. Some of those skills are a high intelligence for the game, knowing how to relate to players and the ability to draw people in with her personality. 

In an interview with The Observer in October 2019, Francois said he was looking for a coach that has integrity and is “hungry” to have a competitive and successful program.

“I think all those things were validated during our pretty in-depth reference check with coach Mitchell,” Francois said.

Mitchell will take over for a program that has been successful for multiple years. Since 2016, the Wildcats have had a conference record over .500 every season, one GNAC tournament win, one NCAA Division II West Regional tournament win and an appearance in the NCAA Division II West Super Regional tournament. 

“We’re gonna win the conference again,” Mitchell said. “My realistic expectation is to continue what we’ve been doing. We’re not only going to win the conference again, I’m expecting that we will make a charge to win the postseason tournament and go to regionals.”