NDSU Softball Camps
City/State: Fargo, N.D.
High School: North HS
Alma Mater: North Dakota State
Graduating Year: 1994
Darren Mueller is in his 12th season as the North Dakota State University head softball coach. He has a record of 389-222 in 11 seasons. Mueller recorded his 350th career win vs. Southern Utah (5-13-11) at The Summit League Softball tournament.
Mueller led North Dakota State to its fourth straight Summit League tournament championship in 2012. The Bison advanced to the NCAA Division I Tucson Regional before bowing out to eight-time national champion Arizona and Notre Dame. NDSU defeated highly-touted and nationally-ranked Hawai'i at the regional.
The 2009 season proved to be an eventful one. In its first year of Division I postseason eligibility, Mueller directed North Dakota State to The Summit League tournament championship, the NCAA Division I Norman Region championship and berth in the NCAA Division I Super Regional played against Arizona State in Tempe.
“I believe we’ll keep the program moving forward,” said Mueller. The NDSU coaching staff received the 2009 NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association) Division I Midwest Region Co-Coaching Staff of the Year award; 2002 and 2003 NFCA Division II North Central Region Coaching Staff of the Year award; 2012 and 2008 Summit League Coaching of the Year; 2007 and 2006 Division I Independent Coaching Staff of the Year, and the 2002 North Central Conference Co-Coaching Staff of the Year.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge and I think our team is ready to go out on the field and see what happens. We have a lot of talent.”
Mueller is in his 19th year with the NDSU softball program. For seven seasons alongside Mitch Hanson, Mueller was responsible for coordinating recruiting and working with the hitters and catchers. The Bison were among the NCAA hitting leaders over a six-year period from 1998-2003 and connected for a school record .357 batting average in 1998. NDSU also hit for power, clubbing a school-record 58 home runs in 2003.
“I like working with the players and seeing them get better, knowing they’re learning something and having fun doing it,” said Mueller.
The 12th coach in the program’s 38-year history, Mueller was part of a coaching staff that guided the Bison to a seven-year record of 339-125 and six straight winning seasons. The 2000 NCAA national championship team posted a 68-10 ledger to set a Division II record for most wins in a season.
North Dakota State made five straight NCAA tournament appearances from 1998 to 2003, including back-to-back national tourney trips in 1999 and 2000 and again in 2002 and 2003. Mueller, assistant Mike McLeod and Hanson were selected the 2000 Speedline Division II National Coaching Staff of the Year. The trio was also named the 1999 and 2000 Speedline Division II North Central Regional Coaching Staff of the Year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
Mueller knows the importance of team chemistry and staying positive. He set the tone his first day on the new job.
“I just told the players that I wanted them to learn something new every day. Don’t worry about the wins and the losses, they will come,” said Mueller.
“The challenge is learning something new every day because that’s what is going to make you a better player. You can’t worry about failure because everybody is going to fail at one point or another. Learn from your mistakes and move on.”
Mueller will also challenge the student-athletes to excel in the classroom. Former players, Melissa Chmielewski, Sarah Schmitz, Michelle Wiest and Aimee Enzler were named CoSIDA Academic All-Americans. Since 1995, 29 Bison players have earned NFCA Academic Scholar-Athlete awards (3.50 grade-point average or higher).
“One of the first things we talk about is striving for a high grade-point average. I think that’s a goal of any team who wants to succeed, to make sure they first achieve success in the classroom,” said Mueller.
“When you come to NDSU, you’re coming here to become a part of a great academic and athletic tradition.”
Mueller has authored many articles for the NFCA and produced four videos on hitting. He has coached internationally in Holland and Australia with USA all-star teams that have competed against the Dutch National and numerous all-star teams.
Mueller is a Fargo native. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from NDSU in 1994 and master’s degree in 2006.