EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon softball head coach Melyssa Lombardi bolstered her coaching staff for the 2020 season on Tuesday with the hiring of Jo Koons as the Ducks’ new volunteer assistant coach and Emily Watson as a graduate manager.
“I can’t wait to get Jo and Emily on campus,” said Lombardi. “I love how versatile Jo was as an athlete, and I am impressed with her ability to teach, her incredible work ethic and her experience as a college coach.
“I have coached against Emily her entire career, and she was an extremely tough competitor on the mound. Emily understands how to compete at the highest level and has the accolades to back it up. They both will leave a great impact on our program.”
Koons replaces Sierra Romero – who has decided to focus on her professional career – as Oregon’s volunteer assistant after spending the 2019 season as an assistant coach at Utah State, her alma mater. Koons coached outfielders and slappers for the Aggies after serving as the head coach at Lassen College in 2018. Koons started her coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Stanford in 2016, before getting her first full-time coaching role in 2017 at Colorado Christian.
The Chico, Calif., native was a very versatile four-year starter for Utah State (2012-15), making at least one start at every position in the field throughout her career. Koons still ranks among the program’s all-time top 10 in triples (6th) and walks (8th), and her 36 runs scored in 2015 are tied for third-most in single-season history.
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Watson will join the Ducks as a graduate manager, her first role on a coaching staff since capping a stellar pitching career at Tulsa in 2018. Watson posted a 74-31 record with a 1.69 ERA and 903 strikeouts across 109 starts and 694.0 innings throughout her career, ranking second in program history in ERA, opponent batting average (.206), strikeouts per seven innings (9.11), wins, games started, complete games (76), shutouts (31) and strikeouts, and third in innings pitched.
An Edmond, Okla., native, Watson was an NFCA second-team all-American as a junior in 2017 while also being named the AAC pitcher of the year. Watson set new school records for wins (30), games started (36), complete games (29), shutouts (14) and innings pitched (246.2) while racking up a miniscule 1.25 ERA with 348 strikeouts, second-most in single-season history.
Koons and Watson will begin their Oregon tenures this fall when the Ducks play eight fall games in October, including six at Jane Sanders Stadium. The Ducks will open the 2020 season at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge in Mexico on Feb. 6-9.