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Craig Nicholson
Position: Head Coach
Alma Mater: Wilfrid Laurier (Ontario)
Graduating Year: 1994
Experience: 7 Years
Phone: (765) 285-5137
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Craig Nicholson
Courtesy: Ball State Athletics
Release: 10/18/2007

Ball State Career Notes:
• Was named the head softball coach at Arizona State University on June 30, 2013
• Posted a 241-162 (.598) record at Ball State, as well as a 964-252 (.793) career record.
• Coached Ball State to the 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013 Mid-American Conference Regular Season Championships
• Led Ball State to the 2010 MAC Tournament Championship and a berth into the NCAA Tournament
• Named the 2009 and 2013 Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year
• Coached Jennifer Gilbert to the program’s first all-American honor, as she was named to the 2013 NFCA Division I All-America Third Team
• Mentored Elizabeth Milian (2010) and Alicia Barkley (2011) to Academic All-America Third Team honors
• Coached Alicia Barkley (2009), Jessie Ware (2010) and Jennifer Gilbert (2012 & 2013) to MAC Player of the Year honors
• Guided Elizabeth Milian to the program's first MAC Pitcher of the Year honor in 2009 and Nicole Steinbach to the program’s first MAC Freshman of the Year honor in 2013
• Helped his players earn recognition on the NFCA All-Great Lakes Region teams a total of nine times, with five first-team honors and four second-team accolades
• Helped his student-athletes earn 37 All-MAC honors, including 15 first-team, 13 second-team and nine all-freshman honors

   Following seven season as the head coach of the Ball State softball team, Craig Nicholson was named the fourth head coach in program history at Arizona State on June 30, 2013. In his time at Ball State, Nicholson molded a program which had never won a league regular season title into a perennial championship contender.

   Under his guidance, the program won its first-ever Mid-American Conference regular season championship in 2009 with the best league record in program history (18-3) and went on to win three more MAC crowns in 2010, 2012 and 2013. The 2010 squad, which set program records for wins in a season (43) and winning percentage in a season (.729), also captured just the second MAC Tournament title in program history to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

   Nicholson led the Cardinals to a 241-162 (.598) record over his BSU career, including a 100-47 (.680) ledger in MAC action. Nicholson, the fastest coach to reach both 100 and 200 wins in program history, owns a 964-252 (.793) career coaching record including his 723-90 record in 11 years at Central Arizona.

   An offensive mastermind, Nicholson has helped Ball State's hitters earn records in 20 of the 24 categories in the program's record book. Perhaps the most impressive records come in the power numbers, with Jennifer Gilbert entering her senior season in 2014 as BSU’s career home runs leader at 56, which is one shy of the Mid-American Conference career mark. Gilbert also set the Ball State single-season record with 23 long balls as a junior last season. BSU's top 18 single-season home run marks have come on Nicholson's watch.

   Nicholson's offensive approach has helped the Cardinals post the top six run totals in program history, including a school-record 368 runs scored in 2012. Ball State's players pounded out a school-record 517 hits in 2011, while posting a BSU and then-MAC record 70 home runs in 2012. The previous Ball State single season record for home runs was 44 in 2011. Prior to Nicholson's arrival, BSU players had never hit more than 18 home runs in a season as a team.

   While the power numbers are impressive under Nicholson, including a program-best .543 slugging percentage in 2012, the Cardinals are balanced all around the batter’s box. Ball State finished the 2012 campaign as the only team in the country to rank in the top 11 nationally in batting average (.318 / 8th), slugging percentage (.543 / 6th) runs scored (6.69 per game / 5th), doubles (1.82 per game / 2nd), triples (0.29 per game / 11th) and home runs (1.27 per game / 10th). In addition, BSU drew 217 walks in 2012 which is the second-best total in program history, trailing only the 238 walks Nicholson's hitters drew in 2008. Overall, Nicholson's players own the top 14 single season walk marks on BSU's all-time charts.

   Nicholson also teaches an aggressive approach on the base paths which is evident by the program-record 151 stolen bases set by the 2008 squad. Nicholson's teams own the top four single-season stolen base marks in BSU annals, while Lisa Rozanski set a school-record with 128 swipes over her four-year career running from 2008-11. His players have also collected six of the top seven single-season marks in the category.

   With Nicholson's focus on offense, one could easily miss the success the defense has shown during his tenure. His teams possess the top five fielding marks in program history, including a school-record .974 fielding percentage in 2010. In 55 games last season, the Cardinals committed just 49 errors and posted a .970 fielding percentage which ranks third on BSU's team charts. In addition, the 2012 squad led the nation by turning a program record 33 double plays.

   On the mound, Nicholson helped develop arguably the greatest pitcher in program history in Elizabeth Milian (2007-10). Milian, the first BSU pitcher to earn MAC Pitcher of the Year accolades, finished her career as the BSU record holder in wins (85), strikeouts (762), appearances (162), starts (128), complete games (105), innings pitched (932.0) and saves (8). A two-time All-MAC First Team selection, Milian's 25 career shutouts are second in BSU history.

   All the success on the field has translated into numerous accolades for BSU's student-athletes. Over the last five seasons (2009-13), the Cardinals have placed more players on the All-MAC First Team than any other school in the league. BSU has 15 honorees during that span, with Northern Illinois and Miami tied for second with nine. Overall, Nicholson has seen his student-athletes honored on All-MAC team's 37 times, including 15 first team, 13 second team and nine all-freshman selections.

    Three of his players, Jessie Ware (2010), Alicia Barkley (2009) and Gilbert (2012 & 2013) were named MAC Player of the Year, while Milian was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2010 MAC Tournament.

   In 2013, Nicholson helped Gilbert become the first player in program history to earn all-America when she was named to the 2013 National Fastpitch Coaches Association NCAA Division I All-America Third Team. Gilbert finished the 2013 campaign ranked in the top 20 nationally in nearly every offensive category. Prior to earning All-America status, Gilbert became just the second player in program history to earn NFCA All-Great Lakes Region First Team honors twice in a career.

   In 2012, a program-record four players earned recognition on the NFCA All-Great Lakes Region teams, with Gilbert and Alison Mercado earning spots on the first team and Montalto and Audrey Bickel being placed on the second team. Both Milian and Ware would earn recognition on the All-Great Lakes Region Second Team in 2010, while Barkley and Milian were named to the 2009 All-Mideast Region First Team.

   Nicholson's players success continues off the field, with both Barkley (2011) and Milian (2010) being named to the Capital One Academic All-America University Division Softball Third Team as voted on by the College Sports Information Directors of America. His players have also earned CoSIDA Academic All-District V honors a total of five times.

   "Our student-athletes work very hard in the classroom and on the playing field to reach their potential," Nicholson said. "The discipline it takes to be an NCAA Division I student-athlete is a valuable lesson that will carry with these players throughout their lives. There is no question, Ball State's softball program is about producing individuals in which this university and community will take a great amount of pride. We still have a lot of work to do to be consistently at the top of the MAC, but we will work hard every day to get there."

   Prior to being named the head coach at Ball State, Nicholson spent 11 seasons as the head softball coach at Central Arizona College where he led the program to four National Junior College Athletic Association National Championships (1997, 1999, 2003 and 2005). His teams combined for a 723-90 (.889) record and also garnered national runner-up finishes in 1996 and 2000. Central Arizona won seven conference championship and eight regional titles in his 11 seasons.

   For his efforts at Central Arizona, Nicholson earned National Junior College Athletic Association Coach of the Year accolades in 1997, 1999, 2003 and 2005. He also stands as the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Junior College Coach of the Year in 1997, 1999 and 2005.

   On top of his collegiate coaching success, Nicholson served as the associate head coach for the Chicago Bandits in 2008 and helped the team to the National Pro Fastpitch Championship.

   He graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, earning a bachelor's degree in physical education. Nicholson later earned his master's degree in sport science from the United States Sport Academy. He and his wife, April, are the parents of four children: Cade, Avery, Payton and Colby.

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