Coaches & Staff
Twenty years in as St. Mary's head softball coach, the iconic Donna Fields has secured a spot in Rattler lore like few others.
Already a member of the St. Mary's Athletics Hall of Fame, Fields is the only Rattler in school history with a national championship as a player and coach.
And she seems intent on adding another trophy to the mantel.
Her Rattlers knocked on the door of a second national championship under her watch as head coach, advancing to the Women's College World Series for the first time in a decade in 2015. To get there, the Rattlers won the South Central Regional and Super Regional championships, before being taken down by eventual national-champion North Georgia. St. Mary's finished the season ranked No. 6 in the NFCA coaches' poll.
The season brought about Fields' fourth regional championship, 14th conference championship and 13th regional-tournament appearance. Her coaching staff was named the NFCA Regional Coaching Staff of the Year, marking the second time Fields' staff has secured the honor.
Last season, in 2016, the Rattlers nearly advanced to the World Series once again, falling just short after losing to West Texas A&M in the Super Regional. The Rattlers won the Heartland Conference regular-season championship and advanced out of the South Central tournament, which the Snakes hosted, to to get back to the Super Regional. The conference title marked the 15th won under Fields.
Fields' Rattlers saw slugger Sydney Wellmann take home Heartland Conference Player of the Year honors, while freshman ace Jorden Russell was named the league's Freshman of the Year. Fields also won her 11th Heartland Conference Coach of the Year award en route to taking the Rattlers to the regional tournament for the 14th time.
Fields, the Rattlers' all-time wins leader with a career record of 830-328, has coached St. Mary's to the 2002 NCAA Division II national championship and four NCAA College World Series berths (2002, 2003, 2005 and 2015). She cracked the illustrious 700-win plateau during an exciting 2014 season that saw St. Mary's climb to as high as No. 3 in the national rankings, and cracked 800 wins last season.
Fields was named the Heartland Conference Coach of the Year for the 10th time following the 2014 campaign, adding to a career that has seen her also earn NFCA National Coaching Staff of the Year honors once and twice be named the NFCA Regional Coaching Staff of the Year.
Fields, who also serves as senior woman administrator for the St. Mary's Department of Athletics, won a national championship as a player (NAIA - 1986) before adding another national title as coach (NCAA Division II - 2002).
In 2015, Fields' squad won a host of awards, including ace Vianna Gutierrez Touchtone being named a Top-10 Finalist for the NFCA National Player of the Year award. Gutierrez Touchtone was one of three Rattlers named to an All-America team, joining Nicole Sardelich and Taylor Vidrine. In addition, Haley Richter was named to an All-Academic Team and was voted the Heartland Conference Woman of the Year.
The 2014 season saw one of the program’s better seasons for Fields as the Rattlers advanced to the South Central Super Regional, falling one game short of the National Championship Tournament. It was the furthest the program has gone since the 2005 season and marked Fields’ fourth season with 50-or-more wins as the Rattlers posted a 50-14 record and nearly claimed their fourth South Central Region championship. That season, Fields led St. Mary's to its 12th NCAA postseason appearance over the past 14 years, sweeping the Heartland Conference regular-season and tournament titles for the Rattlers' 13th conference championship during the 14-year span.
The 2014 season was full of accomplishments for Fields and the Rattlers as the squad was ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation and saw a 17-game winning streak, the longest in Fields’ coaching career, with the Rattlers at one point winning 32 out of 33 games.
The Rattlers won the regular-season and postseason Heartland Conference title for the second straight season in 2014, going on to sweep the South Central Region 2 bracket to advance to the Super Regional.
The Rattlers split the best-of-three series with No. 1 nationally ranked and eventual National Champion West Texas A&M in the Super Regional, claiming the first game and dropping the final two on the Lady Buffs home field, ending the season with a 50-14 record and 18-5 conference record.
The season saw senior ace Emily Brittain earn her second straight Daktronics All-American Honorable Mention after leading the nation in shutouts (14) and was among the nation’s leaders in victories with a 31-7 record to end her career as one of the program’s greats.
Third baseman Nicole Sardelich also saw continued success, earning her second straight NFCA All-Region Second Team selection and third straight All-Conference First Team and All-Tournament Team selection. Sardelich continued to be a double-star, setting the program’s career doubles record with 61 after smacking 19 in her junior season.
The Rattlers had a total of five All-Conference selections in 2014 in a season that saw junior Vianna Gutierrez toss her second career no-hitter.
In 2013, Fields and her Rattlers advanced to the NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament finals after claiming the Heartland Conference regular-season and tournament championship titles. Fields claimed her ninth Heartland Conference Coach of the Year honor after going 45-15 and 14-1 in conference play.
The Rattlers’ success had them ranked highest at No. 22 in the nation and saw an NFCA All-America nod in ace Emily Brittain, who received NCFA All-America Honorable Mention. Brittain was No.6 in the nation for victories after going 27-6, claiming Daktronics Regional Pitcher of the Year and the Heartland Conference Pitcher of the Year for the third straight season.
Throughout the 2013 season, Fields' Rattlers claimed 10 Heartland Conference Player of the Week awards had seven earn All-Conference with six on First Team as well as the Heartland Conference Player of the Year in sophomore Nicole Sardelich. As third baseman, Sardelich also earned NFCA All-Region Second Team and was named Conference All-Tournament Team and All-Conference First Team for the second straight season. Sardelich continued as a beast at the plate, setting a new St. Mary’s record for single-season doubles with 25 and is currently third in career batting average at .404 (144-353).
Along with Brittain’s All-America success on the mound in 2013, fellow aces Crystal Keller and Vianna Gutierrez both threw no-hitters in the Angelo State Round Robin, both on the same day (2/16/13).
Since Fields’ entrance into NCAA Division II in 2000 after coaching under the NAIA for two seasons, the decorated coach has seen 112 All-Conference selections, 22 All-American selections, and nine Academic All-District selections. In 15 seasons in the Heartland Conference, Fields has had prominence in her pitching staff, winning eight Heartland Conference Pitcher of the Year honors (Malissa Magee-4; Emily Brittain-3; Gutierrez Touchtone-1).
The 2008 season was a memorable one for Fields and the Rattlers. A veteran team, led by six seniors, helped the Rattlers advance to the South Central Regional. They finished with a 53-12 overall record and fresh off a perfect run through the Heartland Conference Tournament. Malissa Magee earned her third All-American Honor, while Sade Moore was named Heartland Conference co-Hitter of the Year and Fields was named Coach of the Year.
Fields led her team to its eighth straight 40-plus win season in and the seventh straight trip to the NCAA South Central Region Tournament in 2007. St. Mary’s just missed out on what would have been its fourth trip to the NCAA College World Series, falling to Angelo State in the finals. The Rattlers also won their seventh straight Heartland Conference tournament title and finished the season No. 13 the nation by the NFCA.
In 2005, St. Mary s returned to the NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament for the third time in four years. The Lady Rattlers finished fifth in the nation, and completed a 49-11 season. In advancing to the NCAA Championships, St. Mary s won the NCAA Division II South Central Regional championship for the third time and their fifth conference title where Fields garnered the Heartland Coach of the Year honor for the fifth straight year.
In 2004, the Lady Rattlers finished the season with a 46-13 record to claim their third regional championship and the right to host the tournament for the third straight year.
In 2003, the Rattlers won the Heartland Conference title and the South Central Regional crown. Fields led her team to No. 3 in the nation, losing in extra innings, 5-3, to eventual national champion California-Davis in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
In 2002, the Rattlers claimed their second national title. In addition the Rattlers won the Heartland Conference and hosted South Central Regional Tournaments on their way to the Division II final eight. The Rattlers finished with a school record mark (58-11) and the top spot on the final USA Today/National Fast pitch Coaches Association Division II national poll. Coach Fields and graduate-assistant coach Jessica Peoples were named the 2002 Speedline/NFCA Division II National Coaching Staff of the Year, receiving South Central Regional Staff of the Year honors in the process.
As a three-sport scholarship athlete at St Mary's, Fields made her mark in volleyball, basketball, and softball graduating in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in physical education. She was named NAIA All-American in softball as a leftfielder her senior year and played on the Lady Rattlers' 1986 softball national championship team. Fields was named to the All-Big State Conference and NAIA All-District volleyball teams and was voted NAIA District Freshman of the Year in basketball. The university highlighted her accomplishments, as she was inducted to the St. Mary's Athletics Hall of Fame in 1988 for softball and basketball. She was also inducted into the Oliver Wendell Holmes High School Hall of Fame in 1999. In December of 2001, Coach Fields completed her master's degree as a Distinguished Graduate in education at St. Mary's.
Prior to returning to St. Mary's as a coach, Fields coached and taught at William Taft High School in San Antonio for 10 years. During that time she held the softball head coach position for three years and accumulated a record of 58-12-1, including a district championship and three playoff appearances. She spent five years as head volleyball coach and was honored as San Antonio Coach of the Year.
Fields is married to Andrew Fields, a captain in the San Antonio Fire Department. They have three children, Hannah, Drew and Allison. Hannah is a currently in Physician Assistant School at UTHSA after completing her undergraduate degree from St. Mary’s as a softball player. Drew has just completed his undergraduate degree at Texas A&M University where he played club volleyball and was a male practice player for the aggie volleyball program. He is working on his masters at Texas A&M with plans to be a collegiate coach. Allison is in her senior year of High School. The family remains parishioners at St. Luke Catholic Church, where all three children attended from daycare through eighth grade. They have recently become parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Helotes.