Utah Valley is making the school's first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.
The third softball head coach in Utah Valley's NCAA Division I history, Nikki Palmer made history in 2014 during her first season at the helm of the Wolverines. With four consecutive wins at the program's first-ever WAC Tournament in Seattle, Washington, UVU Softball became the first team in the school's NCAA era to earn a berth in the postseason. In leading her team to the monumental feat in only her first season, Palmer became the first head coach at UVU to take a team into the postseason.
Fielding a young team and bringing a brand new coaching staff with her, Palmer's 2014 squad finished the season with a record of 18-42 and a fifth place finish in the WAC standings at 5-9. Still, the team found a way to win at the right time, going unbeaten and knocking off top-seeded New Mexico State twice en route to the WAC Tournament title.
With the automatic bid secured, the Wolverines trekked to Eugene, Oregon, to join Albany, Wisconsin, and No. 1 overall seed Oregon in the NCAA Regional. The Wolverines' historic season came to an end after losses to Oregon and Albany at the Regional.
Aside from its first postseason berth, a number of other 'firsts' were achieved during Palmer's first season in Orem. On March 13, senior RHP Josi Summers became the first UVU pitcher to throw a no-hitter when she blanked Albany in a 3-0 win. The 2014 squad also faced the program's highest ranked opponent on a pair of occasions, meeting No. 5 Michigan in early March before facing No. 1 Oregon twice in April and again in May at the NCAA Regional.
Under Palmer's leadership, the 2014 Wolverines set a new program record for home runs hit in a season with 51, besting the previous record of 49. In addition, Palmer's aggressiveness on the base paths also showed as her team compiled an .820 stolen base percentage -- the highest single season mark in school history.
Palmer comes to UVU with an already established familiarity with the state of Utah and its softball circles. For the last two seasons, she has held an assistant coaching position at Weber State, which was preceded by a year in the same position at Utah State. In 2012, her first with WSU, she helped lead the Wildcats to a tie for second place in the Mountain Division of the Pacific Coast Softball Conference -- one the best seasons in program history.
With WSU, Palmer was directly responsible for developing the Wildcat offense, creating independent hitting drills for the team. As such, she had a hand in the development of 2012's PCSC Mountain Division Player of the Year, Lyndsey Minnich. Third-best in the league, Minnich batted .453 in conference-only play, including a slugging percentage of .830 and a .613 on-base percentage.
With USU in 2011, she worked primarily with the outfield and also held responsibilities in establishing a recruiting system and database -- laying the groundwork for her future recruiting endeavors at Weber State and, now, at Utah Valley.
Prior to her time in Logan, she held two other assistant coaching stints. She spent two years with San Francisco State and another with her alma mater at UC San Diego, helping the Tritons reach the West Regional of the 2008 NCAA Division II tournament.
A native of Temecula, Calif., Palmer played four seasons at UCSD. She started 146 of the 158 games she appeared in during her career, playing primarily at catcher. She graduated in 2007 with a degree in sociology and earned a master's degree from National University in 2010.