North Hollywood, Calif.
|NPF||USSSA Pride (2013-15)|
|High School||Hart High School (2006-09)|
|2016-present||Houston, assistant coach|
|2015-16||Oklahoma, graduate assistant|
Former Oklahoma All-American Jessica Shults joined the University of Houston Softball program as an assistant coach on July 29, 2016.
In her position, Shults works primarily with the catchers and helps oversee the hitters.
In 2017, Shults helped the Cougars to a 30-25 overall record and 12-6 mark in American Athletic Conference play. The Cougars finished in second place in The American for the regular season and added a runner-up finish at The American Championship. The two finishes are the program's highest respective finishes as a member of the league.
The Cougars led The American in batting average (.302), on base percentage (.383), hits (437), runs (286) and RBI (250) in 2017. Houston also finished second in slugging percentage (.424), home runs (34) and walks (33).
Individually, sophomore outfielder Maya Thomas finished second in conference in batting average (.435), a mark that stood 14th in the country, and on base percentage (.463). Senior utility player Shelby Miller led the league in RBI (51) and was third in slugging percentage (.619), while second baseman Arielle James led all freshmen in bating average (.354), on base percentage (.424), hits (43) and runs (63).
The Cougars picked up a plethora of conference accolades at the conclusion of the regular season. Miller was named Co-Player of the Year and James was tabbed Rookie of the Year. The duo was joined by Thomas and sophomore utility player/pitcher Savannah Heebner on The American First Team. James and pitcher Trystan Melancon were also on the league’s All-Rookie Team.
At the conclusion of The American Championship, Heebner, Sarah Barker, Thomas and Kaylin Crumpton were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Houston also had four players named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I All-Region Teams. Heebner was named to the first team as James and Miller were tabbed to the second team. Thomas rounded out the honors with a third-team selection.
Shults came to Houston after spending two seasons as a graduate assistant with the 2016 National Champion Oklahoma Softball team. With the Sooners, Shults was one of the most tenured members behind Head Coach Patty Gasso and assistant Melyssa Lombardi. She helped with all aspects of training, while also running the team's social media accounts. She also handled film analysis and was in charge of the student managers.
She joined the Sooner staff after completing her illustrious collegiate career as a Sooner with a national title in 2013.
Following her collegiate career, Shults played three years for the USSSA pride after being selected fourth overall in the 2013 National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) draft.
At Oklahoma, Shults was a three-time NFCA All-American and a three-time All-Central Region selection. She also earned three All-Big 12 (two first team, one second team) selections in her career and was named to the 2010 Big 12 Championship All-Tournament team as a freshman.
The Sooner standout started in all 228 games played behind the plate and posted a .348 batting average across her four-year career.
During her junior year in 2012, Shults led the team with 74 hits, had 24 mult-hit games and recorded 18 multi-RBI games. Her home run total of 20 during the season tied for second-most in school history. She also set a school record for putouts by a catcher with 620 on the season. During the postseason, Shults hit two home runs, including a grand slam, to lead the Sooners over Oregon State (5/20) to advance OU to the NCAA Super Regional.
Halfway through her sophomore season in 2011, Shults was diagnosed with pan ulcerative colitis, but she didn't let the diagnosis stop her fight as she returned June 4 to help the Sooners to their second National Championship.
The native of North Hollywood, Calif., earned a spot on the United States Women's National Team in 2011 and 2012. Shults helped Team USA to a silver medal at the 2012 International Softball Federation (ISF) XIII Women's World Fastpitch Championship as she scored four runs and tallied three RBI. She also earned a gold medal with Team USA at the 2012 World Cup of Softball.
Shults played club ball for the prestigious Tony Rico Firecrackers, one of the largest club programs in the nation. She helped the team finish third at 2009 ASA 18U GOLD National Championship, the 2008 Colorado Fireworks Championship, the ASA National Championship and the Canada Cup title in 2007. The team also participated in the 2009 Canada Cup and the 2008 Champions Cup.
Head Coach Kristin Vesely on Shults' hire:
"Jessica's passion for the game is contagious. At Oklahoma, she has won a national championship as a player as well as a staff member. Her experience with winning tradition the past few years, will be a huge value to our staff. She will have an immediate impact on working with our catchers, and I expect to see their skills grow tremendously. Jessica will also play a big part in our Cougar offense. I expect great things and couldn't be happier with the addition to the staff."