Article by: Eric-Paul Johnson from The Press-Enterprise
Photo courtesy of: Terry Pierson from The Press-Enterprise/SCNG
6-26-2017 – Norco – Big things were expected from the Norco softball team this season.
The Cougars lived up to that billing from the start, attaining the No. 1 national ranking in three major polls after winning the Tournament of Champions on March 11. Norco held on to that top ranking for 12 consecutive weeks, capturing the Michelle Carew Classic title and advancing to the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 championship game.
“The biggest challenge we had this season was keeping everybody relaxed and focused on playing softball,” Norco coach Rick Robinson said. “The girls did a tremendous job handling the pressure and not getting wrapped up in all the attention.”
Norco did fall one win shy of becoming the first Inland softball team to go undefeated, but the Cougars still had a historic season in many ways. Norco finished with a 33-1 record, and that win total set an Inland record and was the second-highest total in Southern Section history. The Cougars finished No. 2 in all three national rankings.
For those reasons, Robinson has been chosen as the HSGameTime softball coach of the year. This honor was chosen in mid-May, due to publication requirements for the first HSGameTime Athlete & Coach of the Year Awards.
Robinson can point to many reasons the program has become a perennial power. And one of the most important, he said, is stability in the coaching staff. Robinson has guided the program since 2000, and Dave Angene has been his associate head coach for each of those 18 seasons. Robinson’s sister Beth Windham has been the team’s pitching coach since 2005.
“I don’t think you will find too many other programs with that kind of continuity on its staff,” Robinson said.