Biola names Nikki Udria new softball coach

The former Division I softball standout was previously an assistant on Lori Coleman’s staff.

Photo Illustration by Chak Hee Lo

Photo Illustration by Chak Hee Lo

Austin Green, Managing Editor

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Biola Athletics stayed in-house with its biggest coaching change of summer 2018, announcing Tuesday that former assistant Nikki Udria will become the ninth head softball coach in Eagles history.

Not far removed from a decorated collegiate softball career of her own at the University of Oregon, Udria takes over a team on the rise that lost only two graduating seniors from last year.

“My vision is to take the Biola Softball program to the highest level it has ever been,” Udria said in a statement. “I see our program winning league titles, competing for national championships and being great representatives of everything Biola stands for as a Christian University.”

The hire marks a show of faith from athletic director Bethany Miller in the direction of the softball program after longtime head coach Lori Coleman oversaw a major improvement in 2018. The Eagles went 33-19 in their first season of NCAA Division II play, a 12-win improvement over their 21-22-2 mark in 2017.

Coleman stepped down in May to “pursue other ministry opportunities,” Biola Athletics said in a news release.

“Coach Udria is a an excellent fit to lead the next era of the Biola softball program,” Miller said in a statement. “She… has personal background at the highest level of competition and has proven her strengths as a Biola assistant coach.”

Udria was one of two first-year assistants on Coleman’s staff last season, joining as a hitting and defense coordinator. Under her watch, the Eagles posted higher totals in runs, hits, home runs, RBIs and walks than they had the year prior.

A few returning Eagles softball players had input on the hiring process. One of them, sophomore infielder Kylie Velasco, told the Chimes via text message that she is “beyond excited” to see how her new head coach leads the Eagles in spring 2019 and beyond.

“I have no doubt that [Udria] will take us to that next level,” Velasco said. “She is an intense competitor and has always had such a strong knowledge of the game.”
Velasco said she had followed Udria’s career for years before their paths crossed at Biola and considers herself blessed to now play for one of her “softball idols.”

From 2011-2014, Udria helped Oregon to three Pac-12 conference championships and three NCAA Women’s College World Series Berths. The Covina, Calif. native became a two-time All-American and two-time All-Pac-12 first teamer.

Udria spent time in professional softball and played on USA Softball’s Women’s National Team this past summer. Even with her new job, she still plans to compete for a spot on the team for the 2020 Olympics, Biola Athletics said in a news release.

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