Cat Heifner enters her tenth season as the associate head coach and 13th season as part of the Aggie coaching staff. Heifner’s primary focus is to continue building the Aggies’ record-setting offense, recruiting and assisting in all aspects of the program.
Primarily in charge of hitting, Heifner’s athletes have rewritten the NM State record books during her tenure with the program. The amount of records changed in her tenure is supported by the plethora of athletes now in the Aggie offensive record books.
She helped guide the Aggies to a second-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference in 2014 with a 31-23overall season record. The Aggies were 10-4 in conference play while leading the conference in nearly every hitting category.
Heifner saw major success in the 2014 season with Junior Staci Rodriguez, Fiana Finau and WAC Player of the Year Lacey Rother. Rother recorded 47 hits, 37 RBI, eight homeruns and a .376 batting average her Junior year, playing well enough in the conference to earn her the honor its top accolade. Finau lead the team in RBI with 47, while recorded 14 homeruns, 63 hits and a .394 batting average. Rodriguez once again continued to shine in her Aggie career, putting up team-highs in batting average with a .397, homeruns with 15 and a sky-high slugging percentage of .788. She also recorded 45 RBI and 58 hits.
As a team the Aggies had a .315 average from the plate and a .512 slugging percentage. NM State had 441 hits, 142 extra base hits and 285 RBI, compared to opponents 402 hits, 116 multiple base hits and 221 RBI. The Aggies also had seven players named Hitter of the Week under Heifner’s watch.
With Heifner guiding the Aggies from the third base box, the Aggies stamped a new conference and NM State record for most runs scored in a single inning with 17 in the series finale against Bakersfield (4/12). The Aggies’ 17 runs shattered the previous WAC record of 13 runs in a single inning set in 2010 by Hawaii against Nevada. The Aggies recorded 11 hits, five walks, two hit batters and 15 RBI in the inning. On 11 hits in the inning, NM State only recorded one extra base hit, with the remainder of all coming as singles.
In 2013 Heifner helped lead the Aggies to a second-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference with a 37-20 season record. The Aggies were 16-5 in conference play and held the longest winning streak in program history with 11 wins. The record-setting win for NM State came against No. 17 Arizona (Apr. 9). The feat topped the team’s previous record of 10 that was set during the historical 2011 season when the Aggies won the WAC title and made their first ever NCAA appearance.
Heifner saw major success as sophomore Staci Rodriguez finished the year as the 2013 WAC Player of the Year with 20 home runs, which led the conference and was tied for 10th best in the nation. With those home runs, Rodriguez brought around 63 RBI, which was also a WAC best. She also guided senior Amber Olive to lead the WAC with 79 hits and 41 runs scored. As a team, Heifner saw NM State lead the WAC with a .447 slugging percentage, 239 team RBI, 437 hits and 254 runs scored. The team was second in the league with a .288 batting average and
The 2013 team produced six all-conference players, two NFCA All-Pacific Region accolades and five weeks of WAC Pitcher/Hitter of the Week honors.
In 2013, academically Aggies had seven named NFCA All-America Scholar Athletes, while Olive found her way onto the CoSIDA Academic All-America and All-District teams and was the second Aggie softball player to be honored with the Stan Bates Award, which recognizes the WAC’s top female scholar athlete.
In 2012, Heifner helped junior Amber Olive work to a 12-game hitting streak, a team high for the season. . Olive finished sixth in the WAC in batting average, fourth in hits, tied for fifth in triples, eighth in stolen bases and her 1.31 hits per game was second best in the WAC. Sophomore Kelsey Dodd has some large shoes to fill with the departure of Hoku Nohara after 2011. Dodd took that job with stride and finished the season with nine home runs and 29 RBI. She led the Aggies in slugging percentage (.625), on-base percentage (.461) and walks (28). Her slugging percentage was fourth best in the WAC, on-base percentage 10th and walks tied for ninth.
Prior to her tenure only four Aggies scored 34-plus runs in a season. Heifner has guided over a dozen players to achieve that feat and now boasts the top five sport led by 2011 senior Kandis Jones. The same can be said for hits. Only two Aggies prior to Heifner notched over 67 hits in a season. But under the associate head coach seven Aggies have recorded more hits. That category is led by Jones in 2011 with 82 and includes Olive with one season left to play.
The record shifts are even more dramatic in total bases, home runs and RBI. Heifner molded nine of the top 10 single-season hitters in program history. Seven of the top eight single-season home run leaders have also occurred under Heifner. Eleven of the top 12 single-season RBI leaders have also played for the coach.
The Aggies set 11 team records in 2011 including most wins (44), best winning percentage (.727), most runs in a season (423), most hits in a season (577), most RBI in a season (375) and most home runs in a season (82).
NM State matched its program-best batting average of .341 set in 2009 when the Aggies led the NCAA, in 2011 that average ranked third overall. The Crimson and White were fifth nationally in slugging percentage at .551. The Aggies’ 6.93 runs per game ranked fifth in the country and NM State ranked sixth in the NCAA with 1.34 home runs per game.
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 also set the NM State and WAC career home run record at 64.
She also ranked third nationally in RBI per game, walks per game and on-base percentage. After the season Nohara became the first Aggie to sign a professional contract to play in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league.
In 2010, Heifner’s lineup excelled with top-21 rankings in four offensive categories. The Aggies placed No. 18 in slugging percentage (0.495), No. 19 in batting average (0.317) No. 20 in scoring (5.84) and No. 21 in home runs per game (1.13). The 2010 season saw the Crimson and White break or tie 16 team and individual records.
Nohara set the NM State led the WAC with 62 RBI and classmate Kylie Randall totaled 29 stolen bases to rank first in the conference. Nohara set career records at NM State with 40 home runs, 136 career RBI and 1,010 putouts. Meanwhile, Randall tied the NM State career record with 63 stolen bases.
One of the biggest accomplishments in NM State softball history, Heifner guided the Aggies to cap 2009 as the No. 1 team in the nation with a batting average of .341.
It is the first time a WAC team has led the country in that category. It was 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.
Under Heifner’s direction, the squad captured six team records, which were batting average (.341), runs scored (329), RBI (314), home runs (68), total bases (794) and slugging percentage (.542). Individually, she paced the team in setting eight single-season individual offensive records and four all-time career records. Most notably, freshman sensation Tiare Jennings set five single-season records and Kristi Randall notched four all-time career records.
During the 2008, the softball team either set or tied 38 NM State all-time, single-season, individual, game or career records with 28 offensive records. NM State also recorded the most home runs (39) hit in a season. Heifner also helped fine-tune then freshman powers Ashley Maroda and Hoku Nohara bats as they smacked 12 and 10 home runs apiece, ranking the tied for second and third, respectively, in the NM State all-time single-season record book.
Heifner came to NM State from Angelo State where she coached for two seasons with head coach Kathy Rodolph. During her time at ASU, Heifner guided the Rambelles’ offense to a pair of outstanding seasons.
In 2003, ASU hit a remarkable .315, ranking them in the top 30 in Division II. Angelo State ranked in the top 25 in six other statistical categories including: home runs, stolen bases, walks, runs scored per game, triples per game and runs scored. Heifner’s offensive strategy helped ASU to a 50-9 season record. Heifner also coached three Division II All-Americans.
In 2002, her first season with ASU, she made her mark on the Lone Star Conference coaching Alexis Wing to the LSC batting title (.446). The Belles also finished second in the league batting race with a .309 team average.
Prior to ASU, Heifner was an assistant coach for Rodolph at El Paso Community College from 1999-2000. She also served as interim head coach for one year at EPCC (1997) posting a 20-21 record.
Before going to Angelo State, Heifner served as assistant coach for Midland College, where she helped lead the team to its first-ever conference and regional championship during the 2001 season. The team finished seventh in the nation at the Junior College World Series in Kissimmee, Fla., while maintaining a 3.23 team grade point average.
During her five years of junior college coaching experience, Heifner won three conference and regional championships and advanced to the NJCAA World Series three consecutive years. Heifner coached three teams to consecutive top 10 rankings for team batting average as well.
Heifner received her bachelor’s degree in English from UTEP in 1997. She is currently working towards her master’s degree in sports psychology from the University of Texas – Permian Basin. Heifner was born in Landstuhl, Germany.