Before Mike White ever stepped foot on the Oregon campus, he was already an International Softball Congress Hall of Fame pitcher and had been coaching for 30 years.
During White’s first year as head coach for Oregon softball, the team went 16-34, including 3-18 in the Pac-12. Now in his ninth season, the team has been on an upward trajectory ever since.
By his sixth season, he became the team’s all-time winningest coach, and it’s not even close. After the Women’s College World Series, his winning percentage was .79 percent, with No. 2 at .571. White, who grew up playing soccer in New Zealand, has established Oregon as one of the best softball teams in all of the NCAA.
As a player, White was considered one of the best male softball players in the world in his heyday. He pitched for the New Zealand and U.S. National Team, winning two gold medals at the world championships. In 1996, playing for the New Zealand Black Sox, White pitched a perfect game in a 4-0 win during the World Championship final.
A quick Youtube search and a visit to White’s website will show just the tip of the iceberg of White’s pitching knowledge. He has dozens of videos demonstrating technique and the use of various tools such as the Softball Power Drive plate.
White’s coaching philosophy revolves around mastering the basics, not just in pitching but in overall performance.
“We have an offensive blueprint and a defensive blueprint. It all comes down to little parts of the game,” White said. “It’s down to just the basics. Do the basics better than everybody else.”
White’s pitching skills benefits both sides of the plate. On one hand he can teach his pitchers different techniques and improve their form. For the hitters, he can simulate opposing pitchers with incredible accuracy.
“We’re definitely lucky to work off him,” senior catcher Gwen Svekis said. “I know that when coach White is in the circle my success depends on how he’s feeling that day, not on how I’m feeling.”
The players know just how talented White is; they see it everyday in practice. For veterans like Svekis, she uses that practice as a challenge to learn from one of the very best.
“When I go against coach White my thought process is just to compete. …I’m not thinking home run, I’m not even thinking base hit. I’m strictly thinking compete against him, don’t let him outsmart me,” Svekis said. “And also, don’t think too much because that’s when get’s in your head.”
“He’s the best pitcher in the world,” outfielder Shannon Rhodes said. “For me to get in that box and see the best stuff that anybody is ever going to see everyday is an amazing opportunity. I know that no pitcher out there is gonna throw better than him, so if I can hit coach White I can hit anything.”
“There’s some days where he wants us to feel good and some days where you’re not hitting anything. He knows that and we know that.”
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