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Montana Grizzlies name Stef Ewing new softball coach

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Posted at 12:24 PM, Jun 27, 2024

(Editor's note: University of Montana news release)

MISSOULA — Stef Ewing, previously the head coach at NCAA Division II Cal State San Marcos, has been named the new softball coach at Montana.

Ewing becomes the third coach in program history. The search process was assisted by College Sports Solutions.

“We had some great candidates. In the end, Stef’s enthusiasm and energy and passion for the sport of softball and for developing young women really stood out,” said director of athletics Kent Haslam.

“I’m excited for her to take the lead and see where she can take the program and see what brand of softball we play.”

Ewing, who played collegiately at Oregon State, has been the head coach at Cal State San Marcos since the 2019 season.

She took a team that finished last in the California Collegiate Athletic Association the season prior to her arrival and led the Cougars to a 45-win season in 2022 and to the eight-team Division II World Series in 2023.

Over Ewing’s final three seasons at Cal State San Marcos, the Cougars won 115 games and three times advanced to the NCAA tournament.

Ewing was one of two finalists who visited campus and Missoula last week.

“The University of Montana knows how to win in athletics and the support from the community is something that grabs you. Griz Nation is real. When I was on campus, I just felt it,” said Ewing.

“For someone who lives and breathes softball, to be at a place where there is so much community support and so much support from the athletic department, it’s what you dream of as a coach. I’m excited to be a part of that.

“I would like to thank (senior associate AD Jean Gee) and Kent for this opportunity. I can’t wait for the next generation of Griz softball to begin.”

Ewing moved to the softball hotbed of Arizona at a young age and was asked to switch from her preferred game of baseball to the sport that would come to win her heart and become her life.

“I pitched a fit. I didn’t want to play softball,” Ewing said.

“I grew to love the game. I’ve met so many amazing people and have had so many amazing experiences with softball that I feel like it’s a part of me.

“I love the game. I love the life lessons and what it teaches young women. I love the competitiveness, the heartbreak, the joy, all the emotions of it. The best times of my life have been on the softball field and it’s where I’ve met the most important people of my life. It’s meant everything to me.”

Ewing is a member of the Desert Mountain (Ariz.) High School Hall of Fame and in November was inducted along with her teammates from the 2006 Beavers team into the Oregon State University Athletics Hall of Fame.

A freshman catcher and designated player who would earn first-team All-Pacific Region honors that season, Ewing helped Oregon State reach the College World Series for the first time in program history as the Beavers went 43-16 in 2006, had a 28-game winning streak and 17 wins over ranked opponents.

She was honorable mention All-Pac-10 as a senior in 2009 and part of four teams that won 137 games under Kirk Walker, now the associate head coach at UCLA.

Ewing was an assistant coach at Butler for the 2010 season before returning to Arizona, where she coached high-level club softball and at Chaparral High for a number of years.

She was an assistant coach at New Mexico State under Kathy Rodolph for the 2016, ’17 and ’18 seasons. The Aggies went 36-9 in Western Athletic Conference games with Ewing on staff, won three WAC regular-season titles and twice advanced to the NCAA tournament.

Ewing was hired by Cal State San Marcos after the Cougars went 14-38 in 2018 and finished last in the CCAA with a 10-30 league record.

In 2022, CSUSM, which played just 19 games between the 2020 and ’21 seasons because of cancelations from COVID, went 45-14 and won the CCAA with a 28-8 league record, completing the last-to-first jump. Ewing was voted the CCAA Coach of the Year.

“I’d chalk it up to good recruiting and getting players to believe in a vision that we were going to change a program and that you can win here,” she said. “We built a culture together. Anything I asked them to do, they went after it. They believed me. I’ll certainly cherish every year I had at Cal State San Marcos.”

In 2023, when the Cougars advanced to the NCAA Division II World Series, Ewing and her assistants were voted the NFCA West Region coaching staff of the year.

San Marcos made the NCAA tournament again in 2024, its season coming to an end with a 2-1 loss at Western Washington in the regional round against the team that would advance all the way to national championship series.

Two days after the Cougars’ season came to an end, Montana announced that it would begin the process of finding the Grizzlies’ next head coach.

“There are people I know who are Beaver alumni who have either worked there or been there and said it’s a really special place. Everyone I’ve talked to in the softball community and outside the softball community who know about the University of Montana all say the same thing,” Ewing said.

“I’m ready and excited to let the softball world know that we’re here and we’re going to come to play ball and come to compete and go after it. We’re not going to be intimidated by anybody, that’s for sure.”

Ewing spent a 14-hour day going through tours and interviews last week, then had the next day to herself to take it all in.

“I was in town maybe 60 hours, but it was a great 60 hours,” she said. “It felt like home if it’s possible to feel that comfortable in that amount of time.”