La Verne: Blas Named Head Softball Coach

La Verne: Blas Named Head Softball Coach

Dennis Blas has been named the La Verne head softball coach as recently announced by Director of Athletics Scott Winterburn.

Blas brings nearly two decades of collegiate coaching experience most recently at NAIA Hope International University where he led the Royals to their most prominent era in school history. Blas led HIU to back-to-back Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament Championships, one GSAC Regular Season Championship, earned 2018 GSAC Coach of the Year honors, ranked as high as a No. 6 in the NAIA nationally, picked up a No. 1 seed to the 2018 NAIA Playoffs, and never missed the GSAC Tournament.

"We are ecstatic to welcome Coach Blas to the Leo family," said Winterburn. "He brings a long track record of success and I have no doubt he will continue and enhance the winning tradition of La Verne softball. The Leopards are in good hands."

In Blas' final year at HIU, he led the Royals to a 46-14 overall record, their second GSAC Tournament Championship, and a second-place finish in the GSAC regular season. Under his guidance, Anessa Cepeda became the first player in program history to earn NAIA All-American honors. He led five players to First Team All-GSAC honors and four to NFCA All-Region accolades. The squad secured its second straight trip to the NAIA Regionals and earned a spot in the NAIA Regional Championship. The 2019 squad finished the season ranked 11th nationally and earned a No. 2 seed in the NAIA Playoffs.

In 2018 Coach Blas led the Royals to their first-ever GSAC Regular Season and GSAC Tournament Championships. His team went undefeated in the GSAC Tournament with a 3-0 record to claim a berth in the 2018 NAIA Opening Round. The Royals finished the year with the best record in program history at 47-11, ranked as high as at No. 6 in the NAIA, and had the best GSAC finish (14-6) in program history. The team also set program records in runs scored (381) and RBI (347). Four players earned First Team All-GSAC honors and NFCA All-Region recognition. For the historic run, Blas was named GSAC Coach of the Year. 

Coach Blas began rewriting the Royals' record book in 2017 when he led HIU to their first 30-win season in school history and finished .500 (12-12) in the GSAC for the first time ever. The Royals earned their second straight trip to the conference tournament and his staff guided three players to First Team All-GSAC honors and NFCA All-Region accolades. Alejandra Guillen earned GSAC Player of the Year honors, the first player in HIU softball history.

Blas led a massive turnaround at HIU during his first season at the helm. After inheriting a squad won just nine games and only one GSAC contest, Blas directed the Royals to 25 wins including nine in conference action. Guillen became the first Royals player to earn NFCA All-Region honors and was the first HIU player to pick up First Team All-GSAC honors since 2013. The Royals also earned a spot in the conference tournament after a one-year absence. 

Blas' 148 wins at HIU make him the winningest coach in HIU softball history since the program joined the NAIA. He is also the fastest coach to 100 wins in Royal history. 

"I would like to thank Director of Athletics, Scott Winterburn; Senior Associate Athletic Director, S.W.A., Jenna Panatier, and the hiring committee for selecting me to be the leader of the La Verne softball program," said Blas. "I am excited to be a part of La Verne's winning tradition and to set higher goals for the future. The goal of the softball program will be to compete for a SCIAC Championship every year and to lead the Leo's to an NCAA Division III Championship."

Prior to joining HIU, Blas spent 15 years at Cypress College as an assistant softball coach and 19 years as an administrator, coach, and educator at Saint Joseph High School. 

With the Chargers, Blas was part of a staff that turned Cypress College into one of the most successful junior college softball programs in the country. With the help of Blas, Cypress College won four CCCAA State Championships (including three straight 2010 through 2012), 13 Orange Empire Conference Championships, and hosted a regional playoff each year Blas was a part of the program. The Charger coaching staff was named the NFCA National Coaching Staff of the Year four times including from 2010 to 2012. More than 50 student-athletes moved on from Cypress to play at four-year programs in that time.

At Saint Joseph, Blas wore many hats including coach, educator, and athletic director. Blas coached the basketball, golf, and softball teams and as an educator taught health courses within the physical education department. As an administrator, Blas supervised 40 coaches and staff members and coordinated 22 athletic teams across 11 sports and also handled games management, budgeting, and fundraising duties. 

Blas takes over one of the most successful athletic programs at La Verne. The Leopard softball team has won 10 SCIAC Regular Season Championships, three SCIAC Tournament Championships, and has qualified for 10 NCAA Regional Tournaments and one NCAA World Series. Ten Leopards have earned All-American honors and 13 have earned SCIAC Athlete of the Year recognition.

"If you attend La Verne softball games this season, you will come out and see us play hard for every pitch and for every inning. We will compete until the final out of every game," said Blas. "I am excited to get to practice and play in such a great softball facility. Come out and cheer on your 2019-2020 Leopards."

Blas earned a Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice from Cal Lutheran University and a Master's of Arts in Education with an emphasis in Physical Education from Azusa Pacific University.

He resides in West Garden Grove with his wife of 20 years Michelle. The pair have two children, DJ (18) who will be attending Pepperdine University this Fall and Lolani (15) who attends Rosary Academy. 

-- Courtesy of La Verne Sports Information -- 

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