Jason Anderson enters into his fifth season as the head coach of the Southern Arkansas softball program and in his short time at SAU, Anderson has helped the Lady Mulerider softball program reach new heights.
Last season, Anderson and the Lady Muleriders authored another successful chapter in the program's continual rise to national prominence as a program-best 60-11 record saw Southern Arkansas finish third in the nation at the NCAA Division II Women's College World Series in Salem, Virginia. It was the program's second World Series appearance in three years and came on the heels of SAU claiming their second Central Region Championship which they did at home as the #2 seed in the tournament.
Additionally, Southern Arkansas claimed the program's first outright regular season conference title with a 38-6 record in GAC play. SAU did not lose a league series and won 10 of the 11 four-game sets, including six series sweeps on their way to a new program standard of 49 regular season wins. In all, Anderson and the Lady Muleriders posted an unblemished 21-0 mark Dawson Field inside the Mulerider Softball Complex, which included a 5-0 mark in postseason play.
Under Anderson's direction, the SAU offense dominated opposing pitching as it finished the regular season with the league-lead in average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored, RBI, home runs, total bases, walks, and owned the league's second-most hits. The Lady Muleriders finished the 2018 campaign ranked third in the nation in home runs per game (1.59) and seventh in slugging percentage (.551).
Powering the Lady Muleriders on their historic run was a highly dangerous lineup that broke the Great American Conference's single-season team home run record for the second-straight year after his 2018 squad belted 98 home runs in the regular season to top the 95 that were hit by the club in 64 games last season.
However, it wasn't all about offense in Anderson's fourth season as the Lady Mulerider pitching staff posted regular season league-bests in ERA, opponent batting average, strikeouts, strikeouts looking, wins, and the fewest hits, runs, earned runs and walks allowed. The club finished with a 3.80 strikeout-to-walk ratio that ranked seventh nationally and the staff's 1.76 ERA concluded the campaign as the seventh-lowest in the country.
Individual accolades were plenty during and following the 2018 season as Anderson saw nine of his players combine to claim 13 GAC "of the Week" honors with five players, two pitchers and a pair of freshmen receiving the weekly recognition. Eight players were selected to All-GAC teams, highlighted by redshirt senior Brooke Goad and sophomore Victoria Taylor claiming GAC Player and Pitcher of the Year honors, respectively, while Anderson claimed the league's Coach of the Year award.
The playing duo of Goad and Taylor became the first teammates in NCAA Division II history to record a 30-30 campaign as Goad, the GAC's Female Athlete of the Year, belted 32 home runs, while Taylor recorded 33 wins; both program records. Additionally, the duo was named as finalists for the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division II National Player of the Year, while also securing All-America honors from the NFCA and D2CCA; while also being named the latter's Central Region Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.
The Muleriders finished the season ranked No. 3 nationally by the NFCA and spent time in the organization's Top 25 throughout the regular season and postseason run.
In 2018, Southern Arkansas finished 46-18 including the team's second-straight season with twenty or more wins in Magnolia. The Lady Muleriders finished second in the Great American Conference regular season with a 32-12 mark in league play. SAU made the GAC Tournament for the sixth year in a row, third under Anderson, where it finished as tournament Runner-Up and received an at-large bid (#5 seed) to its second-straight NCAA Central Region Tournament.
The Lady Muleriders finished the season with the GAC's second-best team batting average (.312) led by Maddie Dow's league-best average of .423. Dow concluded her season campaign as the GAC Female Athlete of the Year, consensus All-America honoree, and the CoSIDA Division II Softball Academic All-America of the Year. Southern Arkansas also boasted the third-lowest team ERA (1.91) behind strong seasons from Kaylee Garner and Victoria Taylor who combined for 38 wins, 20 complete games, 13 shutouts, and 294 strikeouts in 309.2 innings pitched.
In 2016, Anderson guided the Lady Muleriders to their best season in program history as they captured a then school-record 53 wins en route to the program's second Great American Conference Tournament Championship, its first Central Region title, and first appearance in the NCAA Division Women's College Softball World Series.
The 53 victories in 2016 marked the fourth time in Anderson's nine-year head coaching career that his team has surpassed the 50-win mark, and the first time it has been accomplished in the 18-year history of the Lady Mulerider softball program.
During the course of that record-setting run, SAU became ranked nationally for the first time in program history in late March, and after seven weeks of being nationally ranked, the club ended the season tabbed fourth in the NFCA DII Top-25 Coaches Poll following a fourth-place finish at the College World Series. It was the sixth time in Anderson’s coaching career that his team finished with a top-5 national ranking at the conclusion of the season.
Statistically, Anderson's 2016 team finished the year ranked in the top-25 nationally in home runs per game (8th | 1.13), slugging percentage (11th | .501), win-loss percentage (13th | .828), on-base percentage (14th | .409), fielding percentage (16th | .971), and earned run average (22nd | 1.96).
The offensive-minded coach, Anderson has helped build a team that has re-written numerous offensive records. In his first season, Anderson’s Lady Muleriders established team single-season offensive records in Batting Average, Slugging Percentage, On-Base Percentage, and Walks. This past year, he helped surpass each of those records, while also establishing new team single-season marks in Wins (53), Runs Scored (381), Homeruns (72), Runs Batted In (343), and Total Bases (839).
In his first year as the head coach at SAU, Anderson would win 26 games while also leading the Lady Muleriders to their fourth-straight GAC Tournament berth.
A proven winner in his career, Anderson, a native of Sheridan, Ark. has amassed an outstanding career coaching record of 386-108 (.781).
The first 226 of those career wins came during a five-year stint at Central Baptist College (Conway, Ark.).
In those five seasons at CBC, Anderson lost only 38 games against his 226 wins as he complied an eye-popping .856 winning percentage with the Mustangs. In each of his first three seasons at CBC, Anderson guided the Mustangs to a berth in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) National Tournament.
A five-time NCCAA Regional Coach of the Year, Anderson’s 2010 CBC team would go a remarkable 52-1 (.981) en route to a NCCAA National Championship. Anderson would later be named the NCCAA National Coach of the Year that season.
In the two seasons following the 2010 national championship, Anderson’s Mustangs would win 50+ games twice as they advanced to the NAIA National Tournament in 2011 and 2012. In each of those seasons, the Mustangs would end the season nationally-ranked in the top-five.
Following the 2012 season, Anderson left CBC and moved to the coaching ranks of NCAA Division II as he became the head coach at the University of North Alabama (Florence, Ala.). In his lone season at UNA, Anderson led North Alabama to one of the best seasons in school history. That year, the Lions put together a 40-20 record and were ranked as high as No. 10 nationally in the NCAA Division II polls (NFCA).
Anderson’s UNA team in 2013 would set new single-season school records for wins (40), hits (572), RBIs (330), doubles (108), team batting average (.338) and games played (60), while qualifying for only the second NCAA Regional in UNA history.
A total of five players were named to the All-Gulf South Conference team at the end of the year, three of which also landed on the All-South Region squad.
After that one year at North Alabama, Anderson moved to the coaching ranks in the Great American Conference (GAC) as he was named head coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State University (Alva, Okla.).
While at NWOSU, Anderson would take a team that had not had a winning season since 2008 and turn them into a 41-15 club. Picked to finish ninth in the preseason GAC coaches’ poll, Anderson would have his team end up second in the GAC regular season standings after his Rangers’ club finished in a tie in the loss column, but one game back in the win column to regular season champs, Southeastern Oklahoma.
Statistically, Anderson’s 2014 Rangers would set numerous records including the school record for wins (41) and winning percentage (.732). Offensively, his team would set new school single-season marks in batting average (.325), slugging percentage (.535), runs scored (351), hits (516), doubles (92), homeruns (79), RBIs (322), total bases (853), and walks (174).
Along with the team records set, Anderson coached four players who would go on to set or tie 12 single-season individual records.
In his career, Anderson has coached the National Pitcher of the Year (2011, 2010), the National Player of the Year (2011), the National Newcomer of the Year (2016), the CoSIDA Division II Softball Academic All-America of the Year (2017), the GAC Female Athlete of the Year (2018, 2017), 23 All-Americans, 50 All-Conference honorees, and 19 All-Region players among many other athletes that have received individual athletic and academic accolades.
Anderson is married to the former Renee Byford and the couple has two children, Addison and Kyler.