California has another softball coach who has reached the 600-win total after Teri Johnson from James Logan-Union City won her 600th with her team’s 10-0 triumph over American-Fremont on Tuesday, May 19.
Johnson, who is in her 30th season, became the 12th softball coach in state history to achieve the 600th win. Earlier this season, Mike D’Amato from Garces-Bakersfield won his 600th game. Johnson also is the first on the list from the CIF North Coast Section.
“It’s exciting,” Johnson told the Contra Costa Times. “I never thought we’d ever get to 600, that’s for sure. A big milestone.”
Johnson has that one constant of all great coaches: she helps the more average athlete become a very good player and she helps the very good ones become great.
The state’s winningest softball coach is also from the Bay Area: Jim Liggett from Carlmont-Belmont is still going strong.
Liggett, in fact, is in his 40th season coaching at Carlmont. Counting this year’s 21-5 record entering the CIF Central Coast Section playoffs, Liggett had a record of 985-210-4. His teams have won eight CCS titles and he’s been inducted into numerous Halls of Fame. Since no one else in California history has even gotten to 800, we think he belongs in another one: the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.
The state’s second winningest softball coach for career wins is Ron Clarke of Fairfield, who unfortunately is no longer with us.
Clarke passed away on April 4 at age 72 in Stockton while preparing to coach the NorCal Tremors club team. He was more well-known by Cal-Hi Sports for his many years as the softball coach at Fairfield High. From 1978 to 2010, he guided the Falcons to a 732-256-5 record that included four CIF Sac-Joaquin Section championships. According to a story in the Stockton Record, Clarke was planning to return to high school coaching when a great-granddaughter was old enough to play.
In addition to his focused approach to coaching, what stood out about Clarke was that he lived in Stockton but made the commute through Lodi and over Highway 12 for all those years to Fairfield. In 2012, he was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame.
Clarke’s most famous player was pitcher Alicia Hollowell, who went on to star at the University of Arizona. Hollowell struck out a national record 2,328 batters in four seasons, with state records that included 131 wins and 43 no-hitters.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder of Cal-Hi Sports, and publisher of CalHiSports.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter, @CalHiSports.