After a 12-year tenure as MACU Head Softball Coach and a 45-year coaching career at the high school and collegiate level, Robert Wakefield has decided that he will retire at the conclusion of the 2023 season.
The longest tenured coach in MACU softball history, Wakefield has guided the program to new heights, which included leading the team to its first NCCAA National Championship in 2021.
“It has been an honor for me to be a servant of MACU for the past 12 years,” said Wakefield. “I have made many friendships with other coaches in my tenure here. I will always have MACU in my heart and will continue to support this great institution. I will never forget the life experiences being in this position has brought me.”
Wakefield enters the season with a 284-276 (.507) record at MACU while posting six 30-plus win seasons, including four straight (excluding the COVID-19 shortened 2020 campaign).
“We are incredibly thankful to Robert for the years he committed to serving our university as the head softball coach,” stated MACU Athletic Director Marcus Moeller. “He raised the level of the program in every way possible and represented the University with supreme professionalism and class. We have been blessed with some incredible young women that have come through our softball program during Coach Wakefield’s time on our campus and I am so thankful for the incredible work ethic he brought year round to leading the program. He has truly had an incredible career on the field and I look forward to celebrating his career throughout the year.”
Making his way to MACU prior to the start of the 2012 season, the Evangels recorded just 26 wins through his first two seasons, but Mid-America Christian took a massive step forward in his third year at the helm.
During the 2014 season, the Evangels amassed a then program-record for wins, finishing the year with a 34-30 overall record and advancing to the program’s first ever NCCAA Central Region Championship game. MACU picked up some massive wins in the regional, including a 9-0 win over Crowley’s Ridge (Ark.) and a 17-3 victory over Ecclesia (Ark.) before dropping a heartbreaking 5-4 decision to Central Baptist (Ark.) in the title game.
Going 24-21 the following season, the Evangels took another step forward in 2016. After wrapping up the regular season with a 30-20 overall record, MACU earned the program’s first ever at-large berth to the NCCAA Softball World Series.
Two years later, Wakefield led Mid-America Christian to its most wins in program history after concluding the year with a 39-23 (.629) overall record. The Evangels made their deepest push in SAC Tournament play as the Evangels racked up a 2-1 win over Southwestern Assemblies of God (Texas) and a 10-1 victory over Central Christian (Kan.) before falling to eventual champion Oklahoma City 6-0 in the semifinal round. In the NCCAA Regional, the Evangels topped the SAGU once again by a 2-0 score before dropping 9-8, 10-inning marathon to Central Baptist in the championship game. However, due to its outstanding season, MACU once again earned an at-large berth to the NCCAA World Series in Botetourt, Va.
Boasting another 30-win season in 2019, closing out the campaign with a 32-19 record, the Evangels once again made a strong postseason push in the SAC Tournament, advancing to the semifinal round with a 1-0 victory over Oklahoma Panhandle State and a 6-1 defeat of Langston (Okla.) before falling to the eventual SAC Champion Oklahoma City again in a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat.
After the 2020 season was canceled after 18 games due to the COVID-19 campaign, Mid-America Christian came back stronger than ever in 2021.
Headlined by a pair of All-American pitchers in Katie Long and Regan Martin, the Evangels put together its greatest season in the history of the program. Boasting the team’s best ever win percentage at 37-14 (.725), including its best ever showing in Sooner Athletic Conference play at 21-9 (.700), Wakefield was named both the SAC and NCCAA Coach of the Year for the first time in his career. During the regular season run, MACU posted two of its biggest wins in program history after defeating No. 2 Science & Arts (Okla.) 3-2 on Mar. 9 before knocking off the third-ranked Drovers once again by a score of 4-2 on Apr. 10.
At the conclusion of the SAC Tournament, the Evangels accomplished another first as MACU was selected as the top seed for the NCCAA World Series in Easley, S.C. from May 18-20.
After the Evangels put together a 7-0 victory over Trinity Baptist (Fla.) for the program’s first ever win at the national tournament, MACU went on a dominant run by picking up a pair of run-ruled 8-0 shutouts over Oakland City (Ind.) and Carolina (N.C.) to advance to the championship game.
In the title tilt, Mid-America Christian went toe-to-toe with second-seeded Concordia-Ann Arbor (Mich.), as the two teams battled to a 2-2 tie after seven innings of play. In the top of the eighth, shortstop Mikaylee Allen made an incredible back-handed play to throw out the go-ahead run at home plate before coming up with the walk-off run in the bottom of the frame after NCCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Olivia Roberts laid down a suicide squeeze bunt to score her from third to earn the 3-2 victory for the program’s first NCCAA title.
Last season, Mid-America Christian pieced together a phenomenal late season run while growing up with its young pitching tandem. After suffering a doubleheader loss to No. 2 Oklahoma City on Apr. 2 to fall to 18-18, the Evangels closed out the regular season by winning 12 of its last 14 games to enter SAC Tournament play with a ton of momentum. The Evangels opened tourney play by defeating Texas Wesleyan 5-1 before stunning the nationally second-ranked Stars 2-1 for the program’s first ever win against the eventual NAIA National Champion.
For the second straight year, MACU earned the No. 1 seed at the NCCAA World Series, this time being played in Kansas City, Mo. and breezed through pool play with a 9-4 win over Trinity Baptist, a 13-3 victory over Oakland City and 5-0 win over SAC rival Southwestern Christian. Unfortunately, the Evangels missed out on their opportunity to repeat in heartbreaking fashion as another SAC rival in SAGU hit a go-ahead grand slam in the top of the first as the Evangels fell 5-2 to the eventual National Champion in the semifinal round.
“There are several people I would like to thank for my tenure here at MACU,” said Wakefield. “First of all, I want to thank Athletic Director Marcus Moeller and President Phil Greenwald for their leadership in the athletic program, especially the softball program. I also would like to thank my coaching staff over these past 12 years for all of their knowledge and guidance in helping me lead this program to be competing at a high level. I want to especially thank Mr. Willie Holley and President Dr. John D. Fozard for giving me the opportunity to coach at the college level here at MACU. Lastly, I’d like to thank the young ladies that have been a part of this program over the last 12 years for their friendship and hard work on the field as well as their excellent work in the classroom.”
Entering Wakefield’s final season at the helm, Mid-America Christian brings back a talented roster that will be looking to make some more postseason noise. The Evangels return their two starting pitchers from last season in NCCAA Central Region Player of the Year Rachel Eggleston and Avery Schneringer while also returning five of its top bats from last season in Allen, Roberts, Cailey Parsells, Rachel Humburg and Janessa Larman.
Mid-America Christian will officially open the season on Saturday, Feb. 11 as the Evangels will host a 1 p.m. doubleheader against Southwestern (Kan.) at Allen Field.