The Southwest Minnesota State University softball program will have a new head coach for the 2014 season. The school released a statement Monday announcing that four candidates have been invited to the Marshall campus as finalists for the position.
Missy Bruggeman will not be back as SMSU head coach after two years with the team. SMSU athletics communications director Kelly Loft said Monday that Bruggeman was considered an emergency hire when she was brought in to replace Shawn Semler in 2011 and therefore her contract was up after two years. He explained that it is Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) procedure that after the first two years of an emergency hire that the position must be opened up and that the school posted the job opening following the conclusion of the 2013 season. Bruggeman was allowed to reapply for the position, though Loft was unable to divulge if she did so.
Bruggeman took over as head coach of the program in November of 2011 after two seasons as an assistant coach at Division III St. Thomas. She also played at St. Thomas, earning All-American status in 2009. Bruggeman took over at SMSU for Shawn Semler, who is the school's all-time leader in career wins (241) and led the Mustangs to five Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference titles.
In her first year as head coach, Bruggeman guided the Mustangs to a 21-21 overall record and just missed out on a spot in the conference tournament with a 12-14 NSIC mark. With only one senior and two juniors on her roster in 2013, Bruggeman helped lead SMSU to a 19-21 record (12-16 NSIC). The lone senior on the team, Amy Dreessen, earned all-conference, all-region and Academic All-American honors.
The four finalists vying to take over the SMSU head coaching position include Colorado Christian University assistant coach Jamie Dunn, Millard South High School (Neb.) head coach Steve Kerkman, University of South Dakota assistant coach Shannon Norman and Dakota State University (S.D.) assistant coach Betsy Westermann.
The four candidates will visit the SMSU campus over the next seven days for interviews with the search committee, members of the team and university administration. Each of the candidates will also have an open session with the community and media members from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. each day in Founders Hall Room 308. Westermann will be on campus today, while Norman will visit Wednesday, Kerkman on Thursday and Dunn on June 17.
Dunn just finished her first season as an assistant at NCAA Division II Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colo. CCU, which started its program in 2012, went 25-23 in 2013 and was third in the 13-team Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference at 21-11.
Dunn also spent three seasons (2009-12) as head softball coach at Fruita Monument High School in Grand Junction, Colo., leading the team to a 59-11 record and three Class 5A state tournament appearances. She earned her first head coaching position in 2002 and led Palisade High School in Grand Junction to three Class 4A state tournament appearances.
Kerkman has been the head softball coach at Millard South High School in Omaha, Neb., since 2002 and has led the program to Class A state championships in 2005, 2011 and 2012. His teams have been ranked in the top 10 in the state in all of his 11 seasons at the helm. He was named the Nebraska Coaches Association Coach of the Year twice and the Omaha Metro Conference Coach of the Year twice.
Norman recently finished her second season serving as an assistant as NCAA Division I University of South Dakota. She helped the Coyotes to 29 wins in 2013.
Before arriving at USD, Norman was an assistant at the University of Minnesota-Duluth for three seasons (2009-11). She has also spent more than 15 years coaching a variety of sports in the Duluth and Twin Cities areas.
Westermann finished her first season as an assistant at NAIA Dakota State University in Madison, S.D., over the spring. Before heading to DSU she was an assistant for one year at Black Hills State (S.D.), and served as an assistant for two years at Northern State University (S.D.) from 2010-11.