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800 and counting for Gretta Melsted

todayMay 8, 2024 1

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Augustana University softball program has had only three head coaches since 1977, with Gretta Melsted leading the charge since 2007.

The Albert Lea, Minnesota native helped guide the Vikings to the Division II national championship in 2019, and hit a coaching milestone just last month.

Augustana won the NSIC Softball Tournament in convincing fashion last weekend, with senior pitcher Grace Glanzer throwing a perfect game, no-hitter, and 3-hit shutout en route to the title.

“Everything’s firing on all cylinders right now, they’re playing really well, but the biggest key for that is that they play for each other and it’s really the intangible stuff that makes the tangible things happen,” Augustana softball coach Gretta Melsted said.

Gretta Melsted is in her 18th season at Augustana, and has the Vikings in the NCAA Tournament for a 12th time.

“Our culture doesn’t change and what we’re trying to do with players never changes,” Melsted said.

It’s about more than softball.

“What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to build young women, we’re trying to empower women to go on and be successful in whatever career they choose. We just use softball as an avenue,” Melsted said.

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Melsted says that’s never going to change, and she’ll always have the highest of expectations.

“Not just on the field, but that’s in the classroom and that’s in their personal life, and we really talk about striving for excellence, despise mediocrity, so I think there’s that element,” Melsted said.

After starting her run with Augustana with back-to-back losing seasons, Melsted hasn’t had one since and earlier this year won her 800th career game.

“That means I’m getting older (laughs),” Melsted said. “It is special, but that doesn’t happen unless you have obviously the players to do it and the athletic department that supports you and the school that supports you,” Melsted added.

“I definitely think it shows what this team and program and culture is able to do with coach Melsted at the helm of the ship,” NSIC Player of the Year Gracey Brink said.

Senior catcher Gracey Brink is the NSIC Player of the Year. The Rapid City native hit .494 in 28 conference games and .391 overall this season.

“Coming in, I definitely knew that Augie was a stellar program, not only with softball but also academics, so that little double whammy was definitely something that I was looking for in a school,” Brink said.

Brink plans to go to chiropractic school next fall in Dallas, Texas, and says she once wrote coach Melsted a letter to tell her thank you.

“Mentioned the tough love, how much she cares for each and every one of us, and just like her passion for the team, and I think all of those are super special to have in a coach,” Brink said.

Players like Brink are why Melsted says Augie is the perfect fit for her.

“I’m a Lutheran pastor’s kid,” Melsted said. “The school just really fits with my values. I really like to coach highly motivated athletes, kids that want to go on in life and do great things, kids that want to go to med school, chiropractic school, be teachers, go on and get an MBA, that’s the type of kids that’s going to do well in my program,” Melsted said.

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With 1,000 wins well within reach, Melsted is nowhere near done.

“I still have fairly young children so I hope to be doing this for quite some time and hopefully I still have another ten or 15 years left in me,” Melsted said.

The goal is win another national championship, which Melsted says starts with a trip to regionals.

“Put yourself there and then see whatever happens because so much has to happen to be able to get to that next level. You’ve got to have luck on your side, you’ve got to have some calls on your side, you have to have the teach chemistry, you have to have all those components. I just want them to get there and then let the chips fall how they may,” Melsted said.

Let the games begin.

Augustana is the number 4 seed in the Central Region and will open tournament play Thursday against fifth-seeded Oklahoma Baptist in Pittsburg, Kansas. The winner of the double-elimination tournament will advance to the super regionals beginning May 14th.

Written by: The Dam Rock Station

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