Top 20 on- and off-field accomplishments of the past year
Camp slated for ages 13-18
LA Tech faces BYU at approximately 7 p.m.
LA Tech faces Fresno State at 8 p.m. CT.
LA Tech hands Fresno State first home loss in WAC play
Since Sarah Dawson's arrival on the Louisiana Tech campus a decade ago, the former All-American pitcher has built the Lady Techster softball program back into a respected and competitive member of one of the toughest non-AQ softball leagues in the country.
On a yearly basis the Western Athletic Conference places multiple teams in the Top 25 and NCAA tournament, including a league-record four in 2008 - the year that Dawson led the Lady Techsters to the WAC Tournament title in Hawaii and to its first NCAA Tournament since the mid-90s.
After inheriting a program in 2003 that had suffered through three straight losing seasons, Dawson slowly began to build it back into shape on the diamond. The rebuilding process wasn't easy and it wasn't fast, but it finally paid dividends in Dawson's sixth year when the Lady Techsters recorded a 37-29 record in 2008 - the first winning mark in a decade.
That 2008 season culminated with Tech's remarkable run to the WAC Tournament title - the first ever by the Lady Techsters - as Dawson and Co. traveled to Honolulu as the No. 4 seed and responded by winning four one-run games in four days over four Top 25 teams (Hawaii, Fresno State and Nevada twice).
When the final our was recorded in the championship game win over No. 1 seed and 17th ranked Nevada, the Lady Techsters exploded out of the dugout ... just like they had exploded onto the postseason scene. They were far from done though with their memorable run.
Dawson and the Techsters were sent to College Station as the No. 3 seed and promptly upset SEC foe and No. 2 seed Auburn twice before falling to eventual national runner-up Texas A&M in the championship game. That season the Lady Techsters finished ranked 33rd in the country.
It was the start of a three-year run that saw LA Tech register winning records and fourth-place regular season finishes in the highly-competitive WAC - including back-to-back seasons with winning records in league play.
Even while struggling through a pair of sub-500 records the last two seasons - snapping Tech's streak of three straight winning seasons - the Lady Techsters showed a never-die attitude under Dawson's leadership. After qualifying for their sixth and seventh straight WAC Tournament appearances - Tech, Fresno State and Hawaii are the only three teams in the WAC to have qualified for every WAC Tournament since it was reinstated in 2006 - the Lady Techsters entered the event as the No. 6 seed.
Tech responded and shocked everyone by defeating No. 3 seed and perennial NCAA Tournament participant Fresno State in the opening game both years, including a record-setting performance in its 17-7 win in 2012. The Lady Techsters won a pair of games both years before being eliminated.
During Dawson's decade at Tech, her teams shattered numerous team and individual offensive records as she rebuilt a program that participated in numerous college world series and NCAA Tournaments during the 1980s and early '90s. Nine of the program's top 10 all-time team home run marks have come under Dawson, including a program record 59 in 2009.
Dawson has done it by recruiting her type of players and molding them into winners - both on and off the diamond. During Dawson's tenure at LA Tech, the Lady Techsters have boasted some impressive results ... on the field, in the classroom and around the community.
Dawson, now 15 years removed from her playing days where she was an All-American pitcher at Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe), works tirelessly as a head coach to help mold her players into great softball players, top-notch students and first class citizens.
Part of Dawson's philosophy involves getting her players actively involved in service projects so they learn how to be an integral part of their community. During her time at Tech, Dawson's players have averaged over 200 hours of community service, ranging from visiting nursing homes, working with area churches and helping with the Louisiana Tech student-athlete Halloween carnival.
The program raised more than $14,000 for the local chapter of DART with the charity softball game against Fresno State in 2009 and 2011.
In addition to community service projects, Dawson incorporates the NCAA's CHAMPS/Lifeskills Leadership Program on a regular basis with her team. Throughout the school year, Dawson arranges speakers to talk to her players about such topics as domestic violence, drugs and alcohol, sexual responsibility, interviewing skills, and other areas that will impact their lives.
Dawson and her coaching staff along with the players instituted a recycling program in the Louisiana Tech Athletic Department.
Dawson also emphasizes education, and it has paid off during her tenure at Louisiana Tech. During the previous 10 years at Tech, a total of 43 of LA Tech's student-athletes have earned a total of 90 Academic All-Western Athletic Conference honors, ranking among the most in the league during that time.
The team also recorded its highest single year Academic Progress Rate (APR) score ever with a 1000 for the 2008-09 season.
Dawson, who has compiled a 240-338 record at Tech in her 10 years, has also had a positive effect on her players on the playing field during her time at Louisiana Tech. Dawson's competitive spirit rubs off on her players.
She brings that competitiveness and dedication that helped her garner success as a collegiate and professional player to the Louisiana Tech program.
Twenty-eight of her players have earned all-Western Athletic Conference honors, including at least one every year and a program-record five in 2009. Former shortstop Amberly Waits became the first LA Tech player to ever earn the WAC Player of the Year award as she was an easy selection in 2009 after winning the WAC Triple Crown (led league in average, home runs and RBI).
Dawson has also had 36 of her players named to the Louisiana Sports Writers Association all-state team, including Waits who was named the 2009 Hitter of the Year, outfielder Emma Barnes was named the state Freshman of the Year in 2006 and utility Melanie Goff was named the Newcomer of the Year in 2012.
Prior to coming to Louisiana Tech in 2003, Dawson served as an assistant coach at UL-Monroe from 2000 through 2002 and at Marshall University in 1999.
During her four years in the circle at UL-Monroe, she produced some incredibly impressive numbers that still rank on the NCAA Division I all-time single season and career records list.
In her career, Dawson amassed a record of 120-56 while registering 151 complete games, 1,242.1 innings pitched, 1,280 strikeouts and 74 career shutouts. Her complete games, innings pitched, strikeouts and career shutouts all ranked in the top 10 in NCAA Division I history while her 120 career wins ranked sixth.
In 1997 during her senior season at UL-Monroe, Dawson earned a spot on the Louisville Slugger NCAA Division I All-American first team. During that year Dawson registered 446 strikeouts in 400.2 innings while recording 50 complete games in only 54 starts and amassing a record of 45-10.
She still holds the school record for career victories, lowest earned run average (0.69), inning pitched, strikeouts, shutouts, games pitched, games started and complete games.
She continued to be successful after her collegiate career, joining the Women's Professional Fast-pitch League in the summer of 1997, where she earned the first year league's inaugural Most Valuable Player award, ranking No. 1 in wins (30) and saves (4) and second in shutouts, complete games, earned run average and opponent's batting average.
Dawson earned her bachelor's degree in finance from UL-Monroe in 1998.