Returning for his fourth year as a Duck assistant coach, Blake Miller continues to help the Duck softball program set its sights even higher after three of its greatest seasons ever.
One of the nation's most experienced U.S. National Team members helped Oregon stake its first-ever Pac-12 Championship in 2013 and fourth straight Super Regional trip.
UO racked up a 50-11 overall mark (and best-ever 19-5 Pac-12 ledger), 17 wins vs. top-25 foes, 28 victories vs. NCAA Tournament advancers, and a perfect 16-0 regular season home record.
At the plate, UO hitters smashed a whopping 80 homers, and also reset school record for batting (.329), runs (366) and slugging (.526). On NCAA season charts, UO stood top 15 in 2013 in win-loss percentage (fourth, .845), ERA (fifth, 1.58), slugging (sixth, .538), batting (ninth, .332), home runs (12th, 1.36 per game) and scoring (13th, 6.31 runs per game).
Duck individuals were equally recognized among the nation's best with a school record 17 selections on All-Pac-12 Teams, six All-Region nods (including a national best five first-team choices), and six Academic All-Pac-12 honors.
In 2012, UO earned its second-ever Women's College World Series trip, racked up its second-most wins ever (45), and ended the season ranked a best-ever fifth nationally in both the NFCA and USA Softball polls. The Ducks ranked top 25 all season long after being tabbed No. 14 in both preseason editions (and part of a streak of 42 straight weeks since 2010).
Against the nation’s top softball conference, UO placed third and posted back-to-back top-three Pac-12 finishes for the first time since the Pac-12 expanded to eight teams in 1994. Oregon also beat every league rival in the same season for the third time in that stretch.
In the postseason, UO went 3-0 hosting its first-ever regional in Eugene, then logged its first-ever NCAA Super Regional victories at #6 seed Texas. Afterwards in Oklahoma City, Oregon beat #5 seed Tennessee in the WCWS, while its other hard-fought losses came to #1 and #3 seeds California and Arizona State.
Overall in 2012, UO racked up 25 wins against NCAA tourney advancers, and 16 victories vs. top-25 teams, including a 1-0 win mid-April vs. then-No. 1 California (its second upset of a top-ranked foe in White’s tenure).
In 2011, he helped guide the Ducks to their second-ever Super Regional trip as the NCAA Tournament's 13th seed, thanks to its best Pac-10 finish (third-tie, 11-10) since the league expanded to eight teams in 1993.
The last month of the season, UO shined with wins in nine of its last 12 league tilts and claimed its last four season series. The Ducks took three-game sets from then-No. 12 UCLA and then-No. 10 Stanford for the first time since 2005 and 2007 and ended 15- and 10-game losing streaks; claimed its first Civil War sweep of Oregon State since 1994; and took the series from eight-time national champion Arizona for only the third time in the rivalry dating back to 1984.
UO was on the national radar season all season long after it started the campaign 14th in both preseason polls. By year's end, it enjoyed a season-high ranking of 11th, thanks to 12 wins over ranked teams and 13 victories against NCAA qualifiers, and a league finish four positions higher its preseason pick.
The 13-year college coaching veteran joined the Oregon staff after serving as head coach at Texas A&M-Kingsville the previous three seasons. In prior stints, he served as the head coach at Darton College (2006-07) and an assistant coach at East Tennessee State (2005), Missouri Western State (2004) and Mesa State (2001-03).
Altogether during his coaching career, he coached eight All-Americans, nine Academic All-Americans, and guided four teams to regional bids and one Junior College World Series trip.
His Texas A&M-Kingsville squad went 32-22 in 2009 and climbed as high as 23rd in the national rankings after it won five games against teams ranked top five nationally. In 2010, the Javelinas staked school records in batting (.306), slugging (.470), home runs (34) and on-base percentage (.385), while the ’08 squad paced the Lone Star Conference in stolen bases (88).
In his prior two-year stint at Darton College, he guided the Cavaliers to a 64-44 record, the school’s first Region XVII Championship, and a bid to the 2006 NJCAA Division I World Series. His squad shined off the field with a 3.26 GPA his first season, and NJCAA national-high 3.59 mark the second campaign.
In his prior coaching stops as an assistant coach, he helped Mesa State to a pair of NCAA Division II regional appearances (2001, 2002) and an NCAA Division II season home run record (98, 2002), while East Tennessee State set a school stolen base record (98).
Fastpitch softball fans are also familiar with Miller as a seven-time member of the USA Men’s National Team. In his 15 years at the professional level, he helped the U.S. capture a gold medal in the 2002 Pan American Qualifier in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and a silver medal in the 2003 Pan-American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Miller played on International Softball Congress world championship gold medal teams in 2008 and ’09 for the Kitchener, Ont., Riversharks, and the same team won the U.S. title in ‘10. A four-time first-team All-American (1999, 2002, ’05, ’07), he played on silver-medal U.S. teams in the 2003 Pan Am Games, 2007 European World Cup, the gold-medal squad in the 2007 American Challenge Series and fourth-place team in the 2009 ISF World Championships in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
"We‘re thrilled to have someone of Blake’s caliber to our coaching staff,” Oregon head coach Mike White said. “As a U.S. National Team member he was known for his competitiveness and was a leader by example. His versatility on the field and at the plate were impressive, as was his intelligence on the field - he looked for the little things which are big in our game. Adding in his experience as a head coach at two successful Division II programs, he will help our players, particularly our young ones, continually increase their softball knowledge.”
He his married to former all-region pitcher Renee Hietbrink, and has three daughters Ashley, Blakely and Carter.
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