Updated: Mar 8, 2020
By Tom Mauldin - 9/23/2019
College of Idaho coach Al Mendiola has been named Fastpitch Northwest Idaho director.
Fastpitch Northwest director Mike Brooks said he was delighted to have Mendiola join the team.
“I am extremely pleased that coach Mendiola has decided to become Idaho director for Fastpitch Northwest,” said Brooks. “I got to know him at our PEC at the College of Idaho and was immediately impressed with his passion for the game and his willingness to help with our evaluation.”
Mendiola is in his 15th year as head coach of the Coyote softball program and holds an all-time record of 374-292-1 - the most wins by a softball coach in school history. He was named 2007 Cascade Conference and NAIA Region I Coach of the Year, while earning NFCA West Region Coach of the Year honors in 2014. He has coached 24 All-CCC players, five NAIA All-Americans, 45 CCC All-Academic Team selections, and 18 NAIA Scholar-Athlete award winners.
Brooks added, “Mendiola has been part of our NW championship event for years and having him onboard covering Idaho will tremendously enhance our program as we endeavor to find the top fastpitch talent in the Northwest.”
Mendiola is a 1994 graduate of COI and played two seasons of baseball earning honorable mention NAIA All-America honors as a senior. Al’s wife, Liz, has been the head volleyball coach at COI for 18 years.
Mendiola is the second college coach to be named a state director for Fastpitch NW. East Oregon University head coach Nicole Christian, a former All-American player at EOU, will be the Oregon state director for Fastpitch NW.
“I want to thank the Fastpitch Northwest Founders and Mike Brooks for the opportunity to continue working with FPNW as the Idaho Director,” said Mendiola. “My relationship with Fastpitch NW started with Ken Olsen and Tom Mauldin 10 years ago and I look forward to continuing the relationship with Mike Brooks. The program creates a great recruiting opportunity for high school players with dreams to play at the next level.”
Mendiola has been utilizing and supporting Fastpitch NW since day one. Many of his players are Fastpitch NW alums and one year, more than half of his 25-player roster had participated in the program.
Mendiola added, “The Pacific Northwest and Hawaii have a tremendous pool of great student-athletes and I am thankful that I am a part of this great organization as a recruiter and now as a Director representing Idaho.”
Under Mendiola, the Yotes set a new school record with 40 victories in 2019, advancing to the title game of the Hattiesburg NAIA Opening Round tournament.
Brooks said adding state directors was just a natural progression as the organization enters its 11th year and is developing new ways to expand.
“State Directors will be focused on becoming intimately familiar with the softball community and landscape within their state.,” said Brooks, a former professional baseball player. “They will be able to hold more Prospect Evaluation Camps offering more complete coverage in order to provide more opportunities for girls wishing to participate.”
Fastpitch NW hosted 13 PECs in 2019. Brooks did not confirm a proposed number of PECs, but hinted the goal for 2020 is to more than double opportunities for prospective college softball players. And that will add to more teams, more games and more expansion for the 2020 College Exposure Tournament.
“Next year our goal is to have a separate event for each grad class (2021, 2022, 2023, 2024) at the Championships,” said Brooks. “Directors will be responsible for evaluating and assembling the teams representing their state and overseeing their state teams at the Championships.”
With Mendiola at the helm, the Yotes have made eight postseason appearances, including the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2019 CCC tournaments. In 2014, Mendiola's Yotes won the Caldwell NAIA Opening Round tournament, advancing to the NAIA World Series, where they finished fifth - ending the year ranked No. 7 in the NAIA Top-25 poll.
In addition to coaching softball at COI, Mendiola was the head coach of the Caldwell Silver Streaks American Legion baseball team from 1997-07 and has also assisted with the Boise Clippers men's fastpitch team. He was also an assistant coach for the C of I baseball team for seven years before taking over the softball program.
Brooks said he expects to be naming Hawaii and Washington directors in the not-to-distant future.