Perez steps up to the plate after Strahan retires

Clifton Jones

Sacramento State softball promoted pitching coach and Hornet alumna Lori Perez to interim head coach on Aug. 14.

The Sacramento State athletics department announced the replacement of long-time softball head coach Kathy Strahan. Strahan recently retired earlier in the summer on June 21 after giving the Hornets 21 years as the head coach.

After her playing days Perez went into coaching for Sac State as the pitching coach. She spent the previous nine years grooming pitchers like alumnae Shelby Voelz, Megan Schaeffer and current senior Taylor Stroud and junior Caitlin Brooks.

Athletic Director Dr. Terry Wanless said the timing of Strahan’s retirement really limited the search to an in-house hiring process and he had confidence that Perez would do a great job.

“ Lori is ready to be the head coach here at Sac State so she has a chance to prove that she is the right person for the job,” Wanless said.

Perez led the Hornet pitching staff to 13 league selections, which included pitchers who earned all-league honors in eight of her nine years as the pitching coach.

“I was excited for the opportunity and the faith and trust that Dr. Wanless put in me to take control of the team,” Perez said. “ I am here to just continue the great success that the head coaches before me had set in place in our team history.”

Even though Perez is excited to be the head coach for the Hornets, she said she was surprised that it happened so soon.

“I learned a lot under Strahan in the past 13 years with her giving me more opportunities to learn how to do some of the administrative business,” Perez said.

Perez said the hardest part of taking the job will be not seeing Strahan everyday.

Last season the Hornets pitching staff under Perez finished the year with a 2.33 ERA, which was the best in the Big Sky Conference as well as ranking in the top 40 pitching staffs in Div. I softball teams.

A lot of the Sac State athletic community have reached out to Perez and congratulated her for the recent upgrade.

“The athletes parents and the athletes themselves have called to say they are excited to have me as their head coach,” Perez said.

Perez had three pitchers last season who finished the year with an ERA under 3.00 including the standout of season, Brooks. Her 1.81 ERA placed her in the top 40 in the nation.

In past seasons Perez also helped with coaching the infield, which the Hornets were ranked the second best among all Div. I teams in the nation with a .979 fielding percentage.

“Any decision is a hard decision,” Wanless said. “We were looking at the right fit for the team and Lori fit that image for us. She is a former student-athlete here so she knows what it takes to play here.”

Perez said that her experience as a player and coach gives her the confidence that she will be a successful head coach. However, the hiring of Perez may have brought some consequences as hitting coach Cara Hoyt is no longer with the team.

One of the big steps in the administrative process as head coach is hiring assistant coaches and Perez will look to start national recruitment. She is going to be relinquishing pitching duties since she has to be freed up to coach the whole team.

“It has been a lot of word of mouth to hire two more coaches, but I have a lot of great candidates to come on as assistant coach,” Perez said. “It has a lot to do with how well those candidates will mesh with our team.”

Perez’s contract as interim head coach will last until the end of June 2014. However, Dr. Wanless said that she has an equal chance of getting the job as a full-time head coach once the athletics department starts its search in the spring time.

Clifton Jones can be reached on twitter @SH_Sports