By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The softball roots of Jennifer Ogee are pedigree, the real stuff. She has performed at the highest level on the diamond both as a player and as a coach. She has been-there, done-that behind the plate, at the plate, and also in the coaching box.
She has played and coached in a national championship game at Washington. She was a member of the U.S. National Team. She helped mold the Nebraska Cornhuskers into one of the top hitting teams in the Big 12.
It's difficult to decide which part of Ogee's history in softball will be the most impressive to current and future Lobos. One thing is for sure: the Lobos have landed an diamond with a outfield of knowledge to share and pass on to UNM players.
"You want the complete package in a player, but you also want that in a coach," said Lobo head coach Ty Singleton. "I think we have that in Jennifer. She has worked with two top programs in Washington and Nebraska and knows what it takes to reach the elite level.
"I'm tremendously excited about her addition to our program. Her experiences, character and coaching abilities will have an immediate impact on our program."
The newest Lobo of softball does have impressive roots and credentials. She was a four-year captain (1993-96) and an All-American at Washington. In the Huskies' fourth season of existence as a program, she helped lead them to a runner-up finish in the school's first-ever berth in the NCAA playoffs. She made the All-World Series team and also took All-America honors as a senior.
As a four-year assistant at Washington, she helped push the Huskies into four NCAA World Series where they finished second (1999), third (1997, 1998) and fifth (2000), Washington was 215-61 (.805) during that four-year span.
As a first-year hitting coach at Nebraska in 2002, she led the Huskers to the fourth-best hitting season in Nebraska history. Not bad, but she helped better that Husker average by nine points the next season -- tops in the Big 12.
She helped NU produce four of its top seven season batting averages in program history. You couple Ogee's hitting success with the hitting background and accomplishments of Coach Singleton and you have one of the top 1-2 punches in the nation when it comes to success at the plate.
But Singleton says Ogee brings even more to the plate for current and future University of New Mexico Lobos.
"Her credentials are impressive, but more importantly she is a coach with great values, and morals and she will be a positive mentor for the young women on this team."
Ogee, a catcher as a player, surely will help the Lobos behind the plate and at the plate with her 16 years of collegiate experience as a coach and player. But Ogee also will be a primary recruiter for UNM and the team's player liaison.
"I feel I can relate with the players because I was in their shoes at one time," said Ogee. "Softball is more than a game and we are trying to develop these ladies into outstanding people as well as outstanding student-athletes."
"I was recruited by a lot of big name schools coming out of high school and chose to play at Washington, despite it being the first year of the program. I felt like I could make a difference and be part of building that program to national recognition."
Ogee did exactly that for Washington (2009 national champions): as a player, as a coach. She also said the challenge of joining Singleton`s rebuilding process at New Mexico is an exciting part of her new job.
"His vision and belief in the program makes this a great position," she said. "UNM has great expectations and I'm happy to be a part of the challenge. We are trying to build something special here at New Mexico and I look forward to helping Ty.
"Ty is one of the main reasons I came to New Mexico. I'm very familiar with Ty's style of play from his days at Texas and Missouri. I admired his teams and his philosophy of the game. His approach with the players and his aggressive style makes this a classy program with every chance to become a national power. I welcome the opportunity to be on his staff."
Ogee comes to UNM following a seven-year stint at Nebraska. She did not coach during the 2009 season due to the birth of her second child. At Nebraska, the head coach once called Ogee, "a diamond," and someone who was "willing to pay the price to reach the pinnacle."
In Ogee's six seasons in charge of the hitters, Nebraska posted a team batting average of .270 or better four times. Prior to her arrival, the Huskers had hit .270 or better just five times in the history of the program, dating back to 1976. Nebraska also scored 230 or more runs in each of Ogee's first five seasons, an unprecedented stretch in Husker history.
In 2006, the Huskers scored 269 runs in only 56 games, an average of nearly five runs per game, the fourth-best total in the 32-year history of NU softball.
"There is no question that Jennifer is one of the top, young hitting coaches in the nation," said Singleton. "With our aggressive style at the plate, she is going to be a great fit for Lobo softball."