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APU Softball Coach Invited to Play in Italy

by Jared Thornton '12

There is an old adage in the sports world that says, “Those who can’t play, coach.” For some this may be true, but not for Azusa Pacific University’s assistant softball coach Gina Oaks. Coach Oaks is one of three Americans invited to play in a softball tournament in Caserta, Italy, August 16-21, 2011. The tournament, hosted by the Italian Softball Federation, is commonly referred to as the European Cup. Oaks, along with fellow Americans Kristie Fox and Anjelica Seldon, join the competitive fast pitch Caserta team.

Accepting an invitation to travel around the world to play softball was an easy decision for Oaks. “I was invited at the end of May, and I told them I was very excited to play over in Italy. It is one of my favorite countries,” she said.

How does a player earn a spot on a team in a different country? Pedigree. Oaks is no stranger to the game and has no lack of success. She is a Cal State Fullerton alumnae who played four seasons (2000-03) for the Titans, two being All-American seasons. Oaks is also one of only four players in Titans’ history to earn All-Big West Conference honors all four years, earning first team honors her sophomore through senior year. She is also the first player in Big West history to earn first team honors at two different positions (pitcher and third base) in 2002 and again her senior year (pitcher and utility).

“I will be playing both pitcher and third base for this tournament and most likely batting 2nd or 3rd in the lineup,” Oaks said. This makes sense given her extensive experience at these positions. Her spot in the lineup is typically reserved for a hitter who makes consistent contact and drives in runs, something she has proven she can do throughout her career.

A career .295 hitter, Oaks ranks in the top 10 in 10 different categories in the history of the Titans softball program. Oaks still claims the title of All Time Runs Scored Leader for Fullerton with 150 (sixth in Big West Conference history). Her junior year was, arguably, her best year in terms of hitting for a balance of power and average. She ended the season with a .301 average, and career high with 52 runs scored (sixth best single season mark in Big West history), 13 doubles and 10 homeruns, making her case for All-American honors.

Oaks’ pitching was just as dominant as her hitting. She has the third most wins in Fullerton history with 74. Again, her best season came her junior year when she earned a record of 22-4 with a 0.73 ERA, giving her the fifth-best single-season winning percentage in school history and ranking seventh in the nation in ERA that season. She also led her team in ERA, victories, and strikeouts (189). In fact, Oaks led the team in strikeouts in each of her first three collegiate seasons, while leading the team in wins as a sophomore and junior.

Oaks ranks among Fullerton’s career pitching leaders in 10 different categories including strikeouts (4th - 685), opponent batting average (6th - .184), most strikeouts per seven innings (3rd - 7.69), victories (4th), saves (4th - 4), complete games (t3rd - 72), and shutouts (8th - 25).

If Oaks’ team wins the tournament, they receive a first place trophy and an automatic berth in next year’s European Cup, providing Oaks a welcome opportunity to return to Italy.

Spring 2012 will mark Oaks’ third consecutive season at APU as assistant coach under Head Softball Coach Carrie Weber. In 2005 she also coached under former head coach Sharon Lehman. The APU women’s softball team finished 4th in the GSAC (Golden State Athletic Conference) for their 2011 season with a 12-12 record.

"I was very excited to play over in Italy. It is one of my favorite countries."