Steve Johnson has been named head softball coach at Utah State University; it was announced Wednesday by Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Barnes. Johnson replaces Carissa Kalaba who resigned as head coach in May.
Johnson becomes the ninth softball coach in Utah State history and will be the first to coach in the Mountain West as the Aggies join the conference on July 1.
"We are excited to begin our softball program's transition into the Mountain West with the new leadership of Steve Johnson. Steve brings excellent experience in successfully rebuilding a program as a head coach and being part of a BCS program as an assistant. Steve is a focused, tireless worker and will bring great energy and passion to our softball program. I want to thank Executive Associate Athletics Director Jana Doggett and the hiring committee for their efforts," Barnes said.
Johnson comes to Utah State after five years at Auburn as an assistant coach. This season, he helped the Tigers to a 30-23 record in the always-tough Southeastern Conference.
"I would like to thank Athletics Director Scott Barnes and Executive Associate Athletics Director Jana Doggett for this fantastic opportunity to be the head softball coach at Utah State University. I would also like to thank Mike Williams and Kara Fisher for their work on the selection committee. I am looking forward to working for and recruiting to such an outstanding academic institution as Utah State.
"Utah State athletics has established itself as a winner across the board, and I look forward to building the softball program into one that competes nationally and in the Mountain West. We will look to build on the tradition of the past, recruiting quality student-athletes that will continue to represent Utah State with pride," Johnson said.
Working primarily with the Tigers' hitters, slappers and infielders, Johnson has helped Auburn advance to three SEC Tournaments and NCAA Regional appearances in four years. In 2011, Auburn was ranked in both the ESPN and NFCA top 25 polls, spending 12 weeks in the NFCA poll and reaching a high of No. 21. Auburn also registered its first-ever series win over a top-five team, taking two-of-three games from No. 4 Georgia. The 2012 Tigers hit the most home runs (46) since the 2005 squad hit a program-record 68.
At Auburn, Johnson coached five players who earned all-SEC honors, and four players who earned SEC all-Freshman Team accolades, including tying a school record with two in 2013.
In 2011, Auburn set program top-five marks in batting average (.279/fifth), runs scored (272/fifth), RBI (235/fifth), doubles (97/second), triples (8/third) and walks (160/second). A native of West Des Moines, Iowa, Johnson compiled a 153-164 record in six years as head coach at UNC-Pembroke, prior to coming to Auburn in 2009. He led the Braves to a 46-14 overall record in 2008 and the Peach Belt Conference Championship, going 17-1 in league action. Johnson also led the Braves to the program's first ever NCAA Regional appearance in 2008, earning NFCA South Atlantic Region Coaching Staff of the Year honors in 2008.
During the 2008 season, the Braves set or tied 33 school records including most wins in a season (46) and most conference wins (17). UNCP players earned a total of six all-region awards and three All-America honors under Johnson's tutelage in 2008.
While at Pembroke, Johnson's teams broke 73 school records and had 39 players earn Peach Belt Academic Honor Roll accolades.
Johnson earned his undergraduate degree in U.S. history and secondary education from Wartburg College, graduating cum laude in 1997. Johnson earned a graduate degree in athletic administration from South Dakota State University in 2002.
He is married to the former Heather Jeanette Wesemen.
He began his professional coaching career as the head coach at Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, from 1997-2000.
Johnson then served as an assistant coach at South Dakota State from 2000-02 before becoming the head coach at UNC-Pembroke.
"My wife Heather and I are excited about joining the Aggie Family as we begin a new journey across the country," Johnson added.