One of the most successful softball coaches in the country, Greg Jones is entering his 17th season in 2017 as Winona State’s head coach. During his tenure with the Warriors, Jones has taken the team to new heights and cemented the program as one of the best in the nation every year.
Coach Greg Jones recorded his 650th career win last season. He has the most wins in school history and ranks 47th in the NCAA in winning percentage. Among NCAA Division II active coaches, his winning percentage ranks ninth. His 650 wins ranks 24th in NCAA Division II.
Jones has not only become one of the most successful coaches in program history, but is currently one of the best coaches in Division II as well. Jones earned his 600th career victory in an 8-0 win over the University of Mary on Apr. 11, 2015. He finished the 2016 season with 650 career wins.
It didn’t take Jones lone to make a mark in Winona. The Warriors set a program record for victories in his second year as head coach and won the first NSIC Championship in school history in his third, setting a standard for excellence that has continued to today.
Jones has built a consistent winner, claiming three NSIC Regular Season Championships (2003, 2005, 2007) and five NSIC Tournament titles (2003, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2015). The Warriors have also become a perennial postseason contender, advancing to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last eight seasons and 10 times overall. The team has played in the NCAA Super Regional Tournament twice, in 2009 and 2013, winning the regional title in 2009.
The 2009 team reached the NCAA Division II World Series for the first time in program history, winning the school’s first regional title and finishing fifth in the final national rankings. Jones and his assistants were named National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Regional Coaching Staff of the Year for their efforts.
Jones has been named the NSIC’s Coach of the Year twice and has led the Warriors to at least 30 wins in all 15 years as WSU's head coach, including nine seasons of 40 or more victories. He is Winona State’s all-time leader in wins (650) and winning percentage (.733). He has also dominated in conference play, posting a 264-69 (.793) mark in NSIC contests.
Jones currently owns the seventh-best winning percentage among active NCAA Division II head coaches, entering the 2017 season with wins in 73.7 percent of his games. His 650 wins entering the season is 25th on the NCAA Division II wins list among active coaches as well.
Individual honors have also rolled in for players under Jones’ guidance. Warriors have been selected as All-Americans 17 times under his coaching while 35 different players have been All-Region selections a total of 68 times. He has also tutored four NSIC Players of the Year, two NSIC Pitchers of the Year and four NSIC Newcomers of the Year, as well as a regional player and pitcher of the year.
Warriors have also had success in the classroom. Jones’ players have been named to the conference’s All-Academic team 80 times with 16 earning Regional All-Academic honors and one player earning Academic All-American honors. Two WSU players have been awarded NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships.
After a strong run in 2014, Jones put together another strong season for WSU, leading the team to a 46-14 record and a 24-5 mark in NSIC play. Winona State won its second consecutive NSIC Tournament title, taking the tournament title with four consecutive titles, including back-to-back wins over conference champion Augustana 6-4 and 4-1. Winona State advanced to the NCAA Regional for the ninth consecutive season, but ran into some tough luck. The Warriors dropped the first game of the regional 4-1 to Central Oklahoma and dropped the second game of the tournament to East Central 5-2.
Jones led WSU to another very successful season in 2014. The Warriors finished with a record of 48-9 record and 23-3 in the NSIC, winning the NSIC Tournament title. The 48 wins is the second-most the Warriors have won under Jones and the 84.2 percent win percentage was the single best season win percentage in program history. The Warriors advanced to the NCAA Regional for the eighth consecutive season. Winona State opened tournament play with a 3-2 comeback victory over Southern Arkansas before dropping the second game to Augustana 2-1. The Warriors defeated Missouri Western State 5-4 in the third game before dropping a heartbreaking 9-8 loss to Augustana in the fourth game to be eliminated from the tournament. Winona State finished 24th in the final NFCA Top 25 Poll.
Despite graduating four All-Americans from the previous season, Jones kept the Warriors playing at the highest level in 2013. Winona State posted a 37-14 record and advanced to the NCAA Regional Tournament for the seventh consecutive year. WSU opened the NCAA postseason with a resounding 11-3 win over No. 2 Southeastern Oklahoma State and followed with two wins against Minnesota State to advance to the NCAA Super Regional Tournament. The Warriors fell to eventual national champion Central Oklahoma but finished the season ranked tenth in the final NFCA Top-25 Poll.
Jones led WSU to the NCAA Regional Tournament for the sixth consecutive season in 2012, coaching a team that featured the NCAA Central Region Pitcher (Stacey Struzynski) and Player (Molly Link) of the Year. Both players earned All-American honors, along with infielder Kim Wachholder. Struzynski was named the NSIC’s Pitcher of the Year.
A pair of Warriors were named All-Americans in 2011, with Molly Link and Kathy Crudo claiming the honors. Link was named the NSIC’s Player and Newcomer of the Year after hitting .428. The Warriors went 37-13 and capped the season with a fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA postseason.
Jones and the Warriors followed their historic 2009 campaign with a 38-14 record in 2010. The Warriors earned their fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament while Jones passed the 400 win mark as Winona State’s head coach.
The 2009 season was historic on many levels for Winona State. The Warriors won 50 games for the first time in program history, going 50-13 overall and 20-6 in the NSIC, breaking 14 school records in the process. The team defended its NSIC Tournament crown and advanced to its third consecutive NCAA Tournament. WSU hosted the NCAA Regional Tournament for the first time in school history, going unbeaten on its way to its first regional championship. The Warriors also hosted the NCAA Super Region Tournament, beating Mesa State twice to reach the NCAA Division II World Series. The team won its first ever World Series game, a 2-1 victory over LeMoyne College, before bowing out of the tournament.
The accolades for the Warriors that season were impressive. Five players were all-NSIC selections, three were named to the conference’s All-Tournament team, four were All-Region picks and Amanda Wilhelm was named to the World Series All-Tournament team. Four players from the 2009 team ended the season as All-Americans.
In 2008 the Warriors posted a 38-15 overall record with a 14-4 mark in the NSIC. The team went undefeated to claim the NSIC Tournament title and received a bid into the NCAA Tournament. WSU posted a 3-2 mark in the tournament, falling in the regional championship game to Emporia State. The second place finish was the best for a Winona State team in the regional tournament up to that point. The team ended the season ranked 15th in the NFCA Top-25 poll.
The Warriors advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2007, starting its current streak of seven consecutive NCAA postseason trips. Winona State went 16-2 in the NSIC to earn its third regular season crown under Jones. WSU’s record of 43-21 tied the then-school mark for wins in a season, which Jones had previously set in 2002.
In 2005 the Warriors swept through the conference, posting a 13-1 record in league play while going 41-16 overall. The team claimed its second NSIC regular season championship in three years. The team made its second trip to the NCAA Tournament while cracking the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top 25 for the first time. Jones earned individual recognition for his team’s success, being named NSIC Coach of the Year for the second time in three seasons.
In just his third season, Jones led the Warriors to the 2003 NSIC regular season championship for the first time in school history. Winona State beat Augustana, 7-4, in the Regional Tournament, the first NCAA win in school history. The victory was also significant for Jones as it made him the school’s leader in career victories. It took Jones just three season to reach the milestone.
The Warriors were 41-13 on the season and added the conference tournament title to their trophy case. They also advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. For his efforts, Jones earned the first of his NSIC Coach of the Year awards.
Success has followed Jones wherever he has coached. Prior to Winona State, he successfully guided the Wisconsin Diamonds 18-Under softball team to three Wisconsin State Championships, one Midwest Championship, and three National Tournament appearances in five years.
Jones earned a Bachelor of Science degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1993. He went on to get his Teaching License and Certification from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 1996.
Jones lives in Winona with his wife Cyndy and their children Carson and Piper.