Coming off the most successful season in nearly 20 years, the reigning ACCAC and Region I Coach of the Year Nikki Bethurum enters her 11th season as the 2nd winningest coach in school history.
Bethurum tenure at AWC has already amassed over 400 career wins and included the Matador’s incredible run in 2019, the second trip to the NJCAA Softball Tournament in her time.
Among the many accolades, Arizona Western extended a streak of seven straight seasons above .500 with a 53-12 season, the best in her time in Yuma.
Two players earned NJCAA All-American Status in 2019 adding to a litany of All-Americans to play at AWC under Bethurum. Prior to that, she coached two-time ACCAC Player of the Year Jessica Flores, and in 2014, she took the program to the NJCAA National Tournament for the first time since 2001. The top-seeded Matadors wound up finishing 8th overall with a 49-9 overall record (39-5 in ACCAC play).
In addition to her recent success, Bethurum got out of the gates very quickly as a head coach, taking advantage of her first opportunity to run her own program by leading the Lady Matadors to wins in the first round of the Region I Playoffs in both 2010 & 2011-the first time the Matadors had seen the postseason since 2006.
Bethurum earned the opportunity to be a head coach in 2010 as Jerry Smith saw her focus and after talking to longtime University of Arkansas at Monticello Head Softball Coach Alvy Early about what she did for him as his lead assistant. Early gave Bethurum a lot of extra coaching duties along with her duties as Recruiting Coordinator and pitching coach during her three-year stint at UAM. Bethurum’s tutelage helped lead the Lady Cotton Blossoms to the Gulf South Conference West Championship and a berth in the NCAA Division II South Regional Tournament in her first season on the staff, and in 2009, she helped lead the Blossoms to a 38-16 overall mark, a 2nd-place finish in the GSC’s West Division, and her pitching staff featured the conference’s Pitcher of the Year.
Bethurum made the transition from player to coach very quickly. A 19-win pitcher as a senior for Downey High School and a member of four different traveling softball teams that all qualified for nationals, Bethurum was the first signee of the 2001 recruiting class for University of California-Riverside in the inland empire.
Bethurum was the top arm at UCR before deciding to leave California for the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Bethurum was a All-Southland Conference Honorable Mention as a junior and made the honor roll all three years in Louisiana. Bethurum holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from ULM while graduating with honors in 2006. She earned he Master’s Degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock in 2009 and is a Professor of Mathematics at AWC in addition to her coaching duties.