Ann Pierson enters her 16th season guiding the Grand Canyon softball squad in 2019. Pierson, the only head coach in the program’s history, has led Lopes softball to great success on and off the field.
Under Pierson’s direction, since joining the Division I ranks, the softball program has enjoyed nothing but success. She has coached 22 players who have earned WAC postseason awards, including 2014 WAC Pitcher of the Year Stephanie Pesqueira.
In 2018, Pierson led the Lopes to the WAC Tournament championship round in Las Cruces, N.M., despite falling to the loser's bracket on day two. GCU was the third seed after finishing 8-6 in regular-season conference play in its first season of full Division I eligibility. Senior Laynee Gomez was named to the Division I Academic All-America second team and became the second player in GCU history to earn the honor.
In 2017, the final year of the Division I transition, the Lopes tied a single-season record with 36 wins and shared the WAC regular-season title. Pierson was named 2017 WAC Coach of the Year for her third conference honor and her second since joining the WAC.
The 2015 and 2016 seasons included winning records with 28 and 35 wins, respectively, and a second-place WAC finish in 2015.
In the first year of the Division I transition, Pierson was named WAC Coach of the Year and led the program to a conference title.
Pierson guided the program to back-to-back Division II postseason appearances in 2012 and 2013. Prior to that, GCU went to the postseason for the first time in 2010, when the Lopes had a school-record 42 wins. The program hit the 40-win mark for the second time in 2013.
Pierson has produced four Division II All-Americans. In 2013, outfielder Kayla Henry was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association second team and was an All-America honorable mention, as voted by CoSIDA. In 2012, shortstop Kelsey Barak also was an All-America honorable mention. In 2010, Teddy Barry was selected to the All-America first team while Randi Johns made the 2006 NCAA Independent All-America team.
While Pierson’s program’s on-field efforts have been exemplary, the off-the-field performance is equally or more impressive.
Four times under the veteran coach’s tenure, the Lopes were at the top of the NFCA Division II Top 10 All-Academic rankings. GCU took the top spot in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2012. The program boasts 49 players who earned NFCA All-America Scholar honors. The 2012 team registered a 3.60 team grade point average.
In 2013, Barak (second team) and Claire Zampini (third team) became the program’s first CoSIDA Academic All-America Team choices. In 2014, Barak became the program's first Division I CoSIDA Academic All-America selection, after the shortstop was placed on the second team for the second year in a row.
Pierson has an all-time record of 449-345-2. She picked up her 400th win milestone in 2017 as part of a WAC co-championship season. She notched her 300th career win in 2014 with a victory over Southern Utah in the GCU Invitational. She picked up win No. 200 in 2011, two years after the program received its first national ranking. In 2008 she reached the 100-win milestone.
Prior to coming to GCU, Pierson was the lead assistant coach at Arizona State for seven seasons. There, she was responsible for managing the recruitment process, initial eligibility and assisting with on-field coaching.
Pierson, formerly Ann Rowan, was a standout shortstop at ASU from 1988 to 1991. An outstanding hitter for the Sun Devils, Pierson’s softball achievements earned her several long-standing marks in ASU’s record book, including the third-most hits in a single season with 86. A second-team All-American and first-team all-region pick in 1990, Pierson is seventh in ASU history in hits (245), tied for third in triples (11), tied for 10th in stolen bases (37) and tied for 19th in doubles (24). She earned All-Pac-10 Conference honors in 1990 and 1991. In September 2006, Pierson was inducted into the Arizona State Hall of Fame for her accomplishments as a player.
In addition to her collegiate achievements, Pierson was a member of three gold medal-winning national teams. She was one of 18 players chosen from a pool of 95 players who tried out for the USA Softball National Team. Pierson earned her first gold medal as a member of the 1991 Pan American Games. Her second gold medal came as a member of the 1993 USA National Team, which won the Intercontinental Cup in Holland. Pierson’s third gold-medal performance came at the 1995 Pan American Games, where she batted .500 and did not make an error. A four-time Olympic Festival selection and three-time ASA All-American, Pierson also played for the 1998 national champion California Commotion team.
Pierson is a native of Tempe, Ariz., who graduated from McClintock High School before earning a Bachelor of Science degree in therapeutic recreation from ASU . She also received her master's degree in educational psychology from Northern Arizona in 2006. Pierson and her husband, John, reside in Chandler, Ariz., and have a daughter, Jordan, and two bulldogs, Joie and Sophie.