Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State softball's associate head coach Catherine Heifner is headed to the University of Minnesota to become the Gophers' hitting coach the school announced on Tuesday. Heifner takes the position after spending 14 seasons at NM State.
During her time with the Aggies, Heifner helped New Mexico State to four Western Athletic Conference regular season titles and three WAC tournament titles. She coached three WAC Freshman of the Year honorees including Kelsey Horton, who was also a Top-10 finalist for the Schutt Sports / NFCA National Freshman of the Year award. Under Heifner's guidance, the Aggies have won five-straight WAC Player of the Year honors.
"Cat Heifner has worked tirelessly over the past 14 seasons to establish the New Mexico State offense as one of the top offenses in the country," head coach Kathy Rodolph said.
Heifner coached NM State to one of the biggest accomplishments in New Mexico State softball history when the Aggies capped the 2009 season ranked first in the nation with a .341 batting average. It was the first time any WAC team led the country in the category. It was also a WAC single-season record for the Aggies and tied the 1998 Fresno State team for the highest team batting average in WAC history. Additionally, NM State was also ranked seventh in scoring (6.09), seventh in slugging percentage (.543) and 10th in home runs per game (1.26) throughout the country.
In 2011, Heifner coached the Crimson and White to its first NCAA Tournament. The team closed out the season ranked fifth nationally in slugging percentage (.551). The Aggies' 6.93 runs per game also ranked fifth in the country and NM State ranked sixth nationally with 1.34 home runs per game. Under Heifner's guidance, senior Hoku Nohara led the nation in 2011 as the NCAA statistical champion for home runs per game and slugging percentage. Nohara blasted a single-season record of 24 home runs for the year, averaging 0.43 per game to lead the country. She also led the nation in slugging percentage at 1.007. Nohara set the NM State and WAC career home run record at 64.
Continuing her success, Heifner guided New Mexico State to one of the best statistical seasons in program history in 2015 when NM State swept the regular season and tournament titles in the WAC. The Aggies broke the school records in wins (47), winning percentage (.746), runs (465), hits (589), home runs (103), doubles (100), RBIs (436), total bases (1,020), walks (283), team batting average (.348), slugging percentage (.602) and on-base percentage (.445).
In 2017 alone, Heifner coached NM State's offense to rank ninth nationally in batting average (.325) and 10th in both on-base percentage (.414) and slugging percentage (.501). New Mexico State was also 16th in scoring (5.93), 23rd in doubles per game (1.48) and 25th in home runs per game (0.96). In addition to the national rankings, the Aggies finished first among WAC teams in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, home runs (52), RBI (294), runs scored (320), and stolen bases (65).
"We wish her the best of luck as she moves on to the University of Minnesota," Rodolph said.