After historic season, head softball coach leaves for Stanford

Jessica Allister is leaving to coach Stanford after a 56-5 season.

Jessica Allister speaks at the Grands at Mulligans in Sartell, MN on Wednesday, Jun. 7. Gophers Athletics staff traveled across state of Minnesota and visited 15 locations.

Daily File Photo

Jessica Allister speaks at the Grands at Mulligans in Sartell, MN on Wednesday, Jun. 7. Gophers Athletics staff traveled across state of Minnesota and visited 15 locations.

Jack Warrick

Head softball coach Jessica Allister is leaving the Gophers’ program, athletics director Mark Coyle announced Tuesday.

She will be heading to Stanford, her alma mater, to head the softball program.

The Gophers’ softball team reached a new level of success this year under Allister. The team won its most games in program history with 56, finished first in the Big Ten and was ranked No. 1 in the country towards the end of the season. Allister is leaving after seven seasons with the team.

“We didn’t see this coming,” former Gophers player Sam Macken said. “We are pretty shocked about it to be honest.”

The job at Stanford opened up earlier in the month, July 11, when now former Stanford head coach Rachel Hanson stepped down after a 19-32 record, leaving the position available for Allister, the 2017 Big 10 Coach of the Year.

“Minnesota will always hold a special place in my heart,” Allister said in a statement. “It is hard to walk away but the opportunity to coach at my alma mater is something I have always dreamed of.”

A Gophers spokesperson said the program will move “as fast as we are able to” name a new head coach. Coyle has not yet named an interim coach.

When reached for comment, former Gophers pitcher Sara Groenewegen declined to speak on Allister’s departure.

“I’m sad to see her go, but I am happy for her,” Coyle said in a statement. “She earned the opportunity to coach at her alma mater. I know that’s always been a dream of hers.”