NORMAN — Doug Gillis first experienced softball in 1998. The longtime Norman High employee was early in his tenure at the school but stepped up to fill a one-year gap for the softball program.
Now, more than 15 years later, he’s going back to it.
Gillis will take over the fastpitch program after a number of years as head baseball coach and several more years as an assistant on the baseball team with Pete Sangirardi. In that time Gillis took over the program after Andrea Harrison, the former coach and a softball star during her time at UCLA, stepped down at the end of the year.
While he may not have the pedigree as his predecessor, Gillis has coached hundreds of athletes comes through the school, and while softball is not baseball, he believes the skills will transfer as he gets his first taste of softball coaching this century.
“I like softball because it’s fast paced,” he said. “It’s very similar to baseball in terms of defense. Obviously the pitching is different, but a lot of the rest is the same.”
Gillis has been one of the leading voices as the baseball squad improved over the last few years, and he’ll continue the building of a softball program that has shown improvement over the past several years.
But first Gillis has to actually see his team. With baseball and softball seasons overlapping, his responsibilities on one diamond kept him from taking in much of the other. Now, with the first pitch of the season just two months away and most of the team spread out playing travel ball, Gillis has a busy July ahead of him.
“With baseball we played in the east conference so I didn’t get to see a lot of softball,” he said. “I’m kind of going into it blind a little bit, but I’m going in with my eyes wide open. A new coach that doesn’t really know a whole lot can be good because you come in fresh. We’ll kind of regroup in the middle of July and start to prepare and see what we got.”