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McNeese softball coach Smith finalist for Montana job

Last Modified: Saturday, August 10, 2013 5:42 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

For the second straight summer the future of McNeese State softball coach Mike Smith is in question.

Last summer it was rumors of a return to Riverside California, this year it’s Missoula, Montana.

According to published reports, Smith is one of three finalists for the head coaching job at the University of Montana. He is joined by Tom Gray, an assistant at Oklahoma State, and Jamie Pinkerton, an assistant coach at Iowa State.

According to The Missoulian newspaper, Gray will be in Missoula on Monday to interview, Smith on Tuesday and Pinkerton on Wednesday.

Each of the candidates will address the public as part of the interview process.

Attempts to reach Smith by the American Press were unsuccessful.

Montana will be starting softball in the 2014-2015 school year.

Smith gave McNeese’s program a jolt of energy when he arrived on campus two years ago. His Cowgirls have gone 72-36, including winning their first Southland Conference championship outright in 30 years.

With a 708-209 record overall, including 467-56 at Cal Baptist, Smith has an impressive resume.

However, his Cowgirls also lost their first two games of the SLC tournaments and missed the NCAA postseason. After that, Smith sounded like a man with unfinished business at McNeese.

“We still have more work to do,” Smith said.

The year before, when rumors of him leaving for a job at the University of California-Riverside, a place he once served as an interim head coach and in a town where Cal Baptist is located and Smith still owns a home, he said he is always willing to listen if it is a good offer.

Apparently, the Montana opening is worth more than just listening.

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