Texas A&M's Jo Evans has always been worried about the next pitch, the next game or adding the next recruit, doing whatever necessary to win a championship. The approach has made her one of college softball's winningest coaches.
Evans earned her 1,000th victory Saturday in a 6-1 triumph over Wisconsin at the A&M Invitational, then promptly moved to 1,001 with a 6-2 victory over Connecticut in the second game of the Aggies' doubleheader.
Evans became the eighth active coach to reach 1,000 wins. She says she hadn't thought too much about her own accomplishments until she got the flood of text messages and emails from well-wishers and former players over the last week. She has, however, allowed herself to dream a few times at the annual coaches convention when officials recognize the coaches for reaching 100-win plateaus. Coaches who have reached Nos. 100 to 900 have their names announced, and the group claps for them.
But the 1,000-win folks get to rise and take a bow.
"With 1,000, those are coaches I'd look at and say, 'Wow!,'" Evans said. "Those are coaches I've been watching coach for a lot of years. They are at the pinnacle of the game."
And with each passing year, reach No. 1,000 became more of a reality for Evans, who started her career in 1986 at Colorado State, moved to her alma mater Utah in 1990 then settled in at A&M in 1997. At one of those conventions, she had a revelation.
"Wow, I think I can do this," she said. "I think I'm going to be in this game long enough to do this. And really being at A&M is the reason I can make that happen. I joke with people that I tell them it took me five seasons to get my first 100 wins. So to come here and have so many teams that are so talented and 40-win seasons are not uncommon for us ... they start to add up."
Saturday, it became reality with her mother and father watching. She received hugs from her staff and players, giving several thumbs up to the crowd. Following the two games she met with her eight seniors in her office, then posed for a picture in the team meeting room with a life-sized poster of her.
"It means a lot for us to be the class to be here and to be at home," catcher Nicole Morgan said. "Her mentality towards all of us [is special]. If we get in trouble, like the next second it's forgotten, so it's really easy for us and she has just as much fun as us."
Everyone had fun Saturday, and it didn't take Evans long to place the accomplishment in her past, saying she has no idea how long she wants to coach. She also said she isn't concerned about reaching a certain number.
"I want us to win the SEC and I want us to win a national championship," Evans said.
A&M (16-4) looked like a champ Saturday, getting solid pitching and big hits to beat Wisconsin and UConn.
Sophomore transfer Katie Marks (7-0) allowed only three hits to UConn (1-8), striking out one and walking one. She was hit hard twice in the first inning but settled down and pitched well from then on.
Junior transfer Rachel Fox (5-3) pitched five innings against Wisconsin (6-7), allowing a pair of solo home runs.
A&M banged out 17 hits in the two games and showed great patience while working 12 walks, half of them by Morgan who continued her sizzling start. She also picked off her seventh runner of the season. Cassie Tysarzcyk added five hits and six runs batted in.
A&M, already assured of winning its own tourney with a 4-0 record, will finish the weekend against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 11:15 a.m. Sunday. The game was moved up because of travel purposes and the threat of bad weather.
Evans is 1,001-536-2 overall, including 688-326-2 in 18 seasons with A&M. She has taken A&M to 14 NCAA tournaments and two Women's College World Series.