More State Softball Coaches of the Year

Larry Loger (left) is shown coaching with Jaelyn Lee at an early season game for Oakdale. We believe he is close to or has achieved 500 career wins. Photo: Jeff Kettering / Oakdale Leader.

In addition to overall State Coach of the Year Jason Ramirez from California of Whittier, we have additional state coaching honors for the 2024 season going to Larry Loger of Oakdale (medium schools) and Jodi Russell of Bakersfield Christian (small schools).


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Larry Loger (Oakdale)

This one has been a long time coming and the more that one looks into what Larry has done in his 20 years as Oakdale’s head softball coach, the better it looks.

This year’s squad put itself on the map with a 3-2 win in eight innings over Capital Christian of Sacramento to win the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D3 championship. It was an upset of sorts as Capital Christian later won the CIF NorCal D2 title and features pitcher/hitter Ayla Tuua, one of the top sophomores in the nation. On that day, however, the Mustangs got 14 strikeouts from Raegen Everett and outlasted the Eagles.

While Oakdale wasn’t able to duplicate that magic in a loss to Willow Glen of San Jose in the regional playoffs, the section title added another milestone to Loger’s ledger. The win-loss record for his first season in 2003 is not reported, but after that we counted it up at 424-112-9. This year’s section title also was the seventh in school history.

The best team that Coach Loger has had at Oakdale came in 2019 when the Mustangs not only won an SJS title, but finished 29-1-1 and were selected as our State Medium Schools Team of the Year. Other memorable seasons that Loger has had are for 2022 (26-3-1), 2018 (23-3), 2016 (22-3), 2012 (27-3-1), 2006 (25-3) and 2005 (28-2).

Raegen’s older sister, Delainey (now at Mississippi State), also has been one of the top players to come through Oakdale’s program under Loger’s direction. Others include Lexy Webb, the leader of that 2019 team (now at Sacramento State), Maddi and Kindra Hackbarth (Arizona State), Marissa Drewrey (Cal), Grace Green (Oklahoma) and Amanda Bricker (Cal Baptist).

It has helped Loger’s program to be in one of the toughest leagues in Northern California with the likes of Central Catholic (Modesto), Manteca and for many years in the 2010s East Union of Manteca. East Union’s Brian Goulart was the last State Medium Schools Coach of the Year from the SJS in 2015.

Recent State Medium Schools Coaches of the Year: 2023 – Jason Ramirez (Whittier California); 2022 – Andy Meza (Salinas Alvarez); 2021 – Obie Galindo (Hesperia Sultana); 2020 – No selection (pandemic); 2019 – Ed Medina (Santa Ana Godinez); 2018 – Kristin Grubbs (Benicia); 2017 – J.J. Vaivao (Ventura Buena); 2016 – Bobby Flores (Grand Terrace); 2015 – Brian Goulart (Manteca East Union); 2014 – Jim Maier (Santa Fe Springs St. Paul); 2013 – Linda Merrida (Woodland Pioneer); 2012 – Randy Willis (Novato San Marin); 2011 – Jerry Dumatrait (Bakersfield Ridgeview); 2010 – Michael Roberts (San Diego University City); 2009 – Howard Miller (Torrance North).

Jodi Russell’s teams at Bakersfield Christian also have gained academic GPA honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. Photo:

Jodi Russell (Bakersfield Christian)

For sticking with it and building a championship program from the rock-bottom, one has to hand it to Bakersfield Christian’s Russell.

According to the program’s logs on MaxPreps, the team was winless in 2013 before Russell came on as the new head coach. It wasn’t an overnight success with totals of 1-20 in 2014 and 4-18 in 2015, but gradually the Eagles began to get better and they were 16-8 and 17-10 before the two COVID pandemic years of 2020 and 2021.

It all came together this season. With players like Anabelle Hinojosa and Cailee Carr (who has a last name from that school that is impossible not to notice), Bakersfield Christian lost its first game to large school Liberty (Bakersfield), but then got on a roll. Entering the CIF Central Section D3 playoffs, the Eagles were on a 24-game win streak. They reached the final with a 27-game streak, but faced a Taft team that was actually seeded higher and came in with a terrific 29-2-1 record.

Russell and her girls were able to squeek past Taft, 1-0, in nine innnings and were able to celebrate winning their first-ever section title. The win streak ended in the CIF SoCal D3 playoffs with a bad loss to Otay Ranch of Chula Vista, but Otay Ranch is certainly not a small school like Bakersfield Christian. Some teams in the regionals also just have nothing left after they win a big game for a section title like the Eagles did.

Taft head coach Russell Emberson isn’t the most recent CIF Central Section honoree on the list of small schools state coaches of the year, but he was the selection for 2014. The most recent winner before Jodi was Caruthers’ Jeff Day in 2022.

Note that Stefanie Danna of Sutter, which went 30-0 and was State Small Schools Team of the Year, is a previous small schools winner for 2021. She can be overall State Coach of the Year, but we don’t have repeats for any other coaching honors.

Recent State Small Schools Coaches of the Year: 2023 – Melissa Snyder (Holtville); 2022 – Jeff Day (Caruthers); 2021 – Stefanie Danna (Sutter); 2020 – No selection (pandemic); 2019 – Robert Vernon (Ripon); 2018 – Neil Stinson (East Nicolaus); 2017 – Flo Galindo (Sun Valley Village Christian); 2016 – Tony Williams (Mariposa County, Mariposa); 2015 – Margaret Neill (Lancaster Paraclete); 2014 – Russell Emberson (Taft); 2013 – Melissa Bugarin-Espinoza (San Pedro Port of Los Angeles); 2012 – Jim Pingree (Monterey Santa Catalina); 2011 – Mike Pontius (Lodi Elliot Christian); 2010 – Raoul Singh (Sutter); 2009 – Alan Borges (Eureka St. Bernard’s).

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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