Of the nearly 400 teams that compete nationally in Division III softball, St. Thomas is regarded among the nation’s elite programs.
Led by two-time National Coach of the Year John Tschida, the Tommies won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2004 and 2005. The 2006 Toms lost two one-run games at nationals to finish second nationally.
In 2004 Tschida became the first softball coach to win NCAA championships at two different schools. He reached 800 career victories in 2015, and coached his 1000th college softball game in 2016.
He's been named NFCA Division III National Coach of the Year twice, and was named Region Coaching staff of the Year in 2014 and 2016.
In 24 years of college coaching, Tschida has won three national championships and became the winningest Division III coach, active or retired, (winning percentage, .843) with a 931-176 record.
He guided St. Thomas to a 43-8 record in 2016 and a seventh-place NCAA finish out of 405 Division III programs.
The Toms returned to the Super Regional plaoff finals in both 2017 and 2018 but fell just short of a return to the eight-team nationals. The 2018 Toms UST went 23-2 against conference opponents and swept the MIAC regular-season and playoff championships for the 12th time in the last 15 seasons.
In the last 17 seasons alone, Tschida has guided the Tommies to
- Six College World Series trips (eight-team nationals)
- NCAA crowns in 2004 and 2005; second at nationals in 2006; third in 2014
- Victories in 43 of 63 postseason tournament games (MIAC, NCAA regional, NCAA finals)
- An overall 99-37 postseason record
- A 44-6 mark in the MIAC playoffs
Tschida guided St. Mary's to the 2000 NCAA Division III championship is his sixth season at his alma mater, and then took the 2004 Tommies to NCAA gold in his fourth season at St. Thomas. Tschida's 2005 team won 32 of its last 33 games to close 43-6 and repeat as NCAA champion. He was again awarded National Coach of the Year honors.
Tschida has been named MIAC Coach of the Year 12 of his 24 years. His teams have been nationally ranked each season.
In 18 seasons at St. Thomas, his teams have swept 173 conference twinbills, split 11 and were swept just twice, and in all games vs. conference opponents are 414-34. His UST players have earned 33 NCAA All-American honors, 47 CoSIDA Academic All-American honors, and more than 100 first-team All-MIAC honors.
The 2010 Tommies finished as the MIAC regular season and postseason champs with a 40-8 record (21-1 MIAC). They reached NCAA postseason play for the 13th time in the past 14 seasons. Senior standouts Alison Wright and Marta Radcliffe swept the top MIAC individual awards. Wright was chosen as MIAC Player of the Year and Radcliffe repeated as MIAC Pitcher of the Year.
The 2011 Tommies posted a 42-6 record (22-0 MIAC), winning both the regular season and postseason crowns. They also improved to 24-0 all-time in the conference playoffs with eight titles in the eight-year history of the tournament. In addition, UST's John Tschida was named MIAC Coach of the Year. Tschida guided the Tommies to a 22-0 run to the MIAC championship and a 3-0 sweep of the MIAC playoffs. UST lost to No. 3-ranked Luther in the NCAA playoffs and finished the season ranked 20th in the final Division III rankings. Senior Cassie Smith was named conference player of the year, while junior Kayla Boward was named MIAC Pitcher of the Year. Boward being named Pitcher of the Year marked the eighth-year in a row that a Tommie pitcher has won the award.
He guided St. Thomas to a 43-8 record in 2016 and a seventh-place NCAA finish out of 405 Division III programs. UST went 20-2 against conference opponents. It swept the MIAC regular-season and playoff championships in 2016 for the 11th time in the last 13 seasons.
St. Thomas had three All-Americas and two Academic All-Americas in 2014. After having no All-Americans in the program’s first 20 years, the Tommies have won the honor 27 times in Tschida's 15-season tenure. After having just one CoSIDA Academic All-American in the program's first 25 years, the Toms have had 14 in the last 12 seasons.
Maria Bye closed her career in 2008 and received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship; was named MIAC Female Student-Athlete of the Year; and became the first conference player to be a three-time first-team on field All-American and a three-time first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American.
Janet Nagle (2004) and Michelle Wong (2005) were each featured in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd. Both were the lone representatives for softball on the national ballot for the Division III Honda Women’s Athlete of the Year voting. Nagle and Nikki Conway played professional softball in summer 2006 with the Michigan Ice.
The Tommies have made the NCAA playoffs in 21 of the last 22 seasons, with five top-five finishes.
St. Thomas won its final 41 games of 2004 to break a Division III record and pull within six wins of the all-division record for consecutive victories. They also had an unprecedented 25-0 record against MIAC opponents. The won 32 of their last 33 games in 2005 and became the first Division III team in 19 years to repeat as national champs.
The 2006 Tommies shattered the Division III record for home runs with 72 in 52 games, and tied the D-III season wins record in a 48-4 finish.
To prepare for the conference season and a possible NCAA tournament berth, St. Thomas plays 10 games against top Division III and NAIA teams in Florida; and also plays top teams from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.
The Tommies have more than 30 players on their roster and play approximately dozen junior-varsity games.