Position: Head Coach • Third Season
E-mail Coach Rittman
John Rittman, a longtime head coach and member of the USA Softball Women’s National Team coaching pool, was named the first Head Coach of Clemson Softball on Nov. 3, 2017. Rittman came to Clemson after serving as the Associate Head Coach at the University of Kansas from 2015-17. Rittman joined the Jayhawks after 18 seasons as the Head Coach at Stanford University and 10 years on the United States National Team coaching staff (2001-08, 2016-18).
During the second season and first complete year, Rittman propelled Clemson to even higher heights by becoming the ACC Regular Season Champions after posting a 29-5 ACC record and winning seven ACC series, including six series sweeps. The Tigers were ACC Tournament Runner-Ups after shutting out both Georgia Tech and then-No. 20 Virginia Tech in the first two rounds before dropping the championship game, 1-0, to then-No. 21 Duke. The Tigers finished the season with a 44-8 record and the sixth-best WL Percentage in the NCAA (.846). Rittman was named ACC Coach of the Year and guided Valerie Cagle to being the first softball player in league history to be named both the ACC Freshman and Player of the Year in the same season. Clemson finished with six individuals earning nine All-ACC team selections following the regular season, including three on the first team. Cagle and freshman McKenzie Clark were named to the NFCA All-Region team. The honors continued to roll in for Cagle as she became the first Clemson softball All-American garnering second team honors from the NFCA, was a JWOS First Team All-American, a Top-Three Finalist for the NFCA’s National Freshman of the Year and a Top-10 Finalist for USA Softball’s Collegiate Player of the Year. Behind Rittman’s efforts, Clemson climbed as high as No. 13 in the NFCA national rankings and No. 10 in the ESPN/USA Softball rankings before finishing the season at No. 18 in the NFCA poll. Rittman led the Tigers to their first postseason appearance traveling to the Tuscaloosa Regional to defeat Troy twice, including a five-inning run-rule victory in the opening game that capped off a historic second season.
In its inaugural season, Rittman transcended Clemson into a nationally-respected program. Rittman guided Clemson, which was predicted to finish in 10th in the conference, according to the 2020 ACC preseason poll, to a 19-8 overall record, including 5-1 in ACC play. The Tigers, who won both of their ACC series against Virginia and Pitt, won 11 of their final 12 games before the 2020 season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Additionally, Clemson went 14-2 at Clemson Softball Stadium (now McWhorter Stadium), which included a 13-game home win streak that spanned 25 days. Rittman and the Tigers generated plenty of enthusiasm among the Clemson faithful as the first-year program ranked fourth nationally in attendance (24,860) and fifth in average attendance (1,544/game) in 2020. On March 3, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) announced the first-year program received votes (10) in the fifth edition of the 2020 USA Today/NFCA D1 Top 25 Coaches Poll. The announcement came after Clemson defeated then-No. 14 Georgia, 4-1, on Feb. 26 at Clemson Softball Stadium before sweeping the Cavaliers to win its first-ever ACC series. Under the direction of Rittman, three Tigers in Valerie Cagle (twice), Marissa Guimbarda and Logan Caymol earned ACC weekly honors on four occasions, the most by any ACC program in 2020. Cagle, a true freshman in 2020, was second in the nation in RBIs (36), while Guimbarda finished the season fourth nationally in home runs (11). Both Cagle and Guimbarda led the ACC in RBIs and home runs, respectively.
At Stanford, Rittman and the Cardinals recorded 18-consecutive winning seasons, made 16-straight NCAA appearances, notched 13 40-win seasons and produced at least one All-American in 15 of his last 17 seasons. As head coach, Rittman accumulated a 750-351-3 overall mark, coached a national player of the year, 16 All-Americans, earned five Super Regional appearances, two Women’s College World Series appearances and maintained a spot in every regular-season NFCA top-25 poll for more than a decade.
Rittman served on the staff of the USA Softball team which won gold at both the 2016 Women’s Softball World Championship and the 2017 Pan Am Qualifier. He also worked with Team USA from 2001-08, coaching the 2004 Olympic gold medal winners in Athens and the 2008 silver medalists in Beijing. Team USA also won gold medals at the 2002 and 2006 World Championship and the 2003 and 2007 Pan Am Games.
Prior to being named head coach at Stanford, Rittman spent four seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Washington, focusing on hitting and defense. Rittman helped start the program and, within just four seasons, the Huskies had earned a No. 1 national ranking, won the 1996 Pac-10 Championship, made three NCAA Tournament appearances and notched a runner-up finish in their first trip to the Women’s College World Series. Washington became the first team since Texas A&M (1983) to advance to the championship game in its first appearance at the WCWS.
Before his appointment at Washington, Rittman spent two seasons as an assistant at the University of Minnesota. During his second year, the Golden Gophers won the Big Ten Conference with a 20-4 league record. The Gophers set team and individual records in almost every offensive category. The Minnesota squad led the nation in hits and total bases en route to a No. 15 national ranking. Rittman also helped produce two Golden Gopher All-Americans.
From 1988-90, Rittman was an assistant coach at the University of Oregon. During his stay, the Ducks played in the 1989 Women’s College World Series, set several team and individual offensive records and produced an All-American.
Rittman graduated from New Mexico State with a degree in journalism in 1986. He was a three-year letterwinner in baseball as an outfielder at NMSU after transferring from Yavapai Junior College in Prescott, Arizona.
Rittman and his wife, Lorie, a former softball player at the University of Oklahoma, are the parents of Justin, a UCLA graduate and former fullback for the Bruins, and Jake, a senior punter at Notre Dame.
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