Mike Larabee enters his sixth season as the head coach of the University of Arkansas softball team. He was hired to lead the program prior to the 2009-10 season and has guided the Razorbacks to two appearances in NCAA Regional finals during the past three seasons.
In the first four years of his career at Arkansas, Larabee has seen the Razorbacks garner nine All-SEC honors spread among five student-athletes including Freshman of the Year accolades for Devon Wallace in 2012 and Scholar-Athlete of the Year recognition for Jessica Bachkora in 2010. Wallace, the first SEC Freshman of the Year in program history, was also named to the All-SEC First Team and All-Freshman Team in 2012.
Overall, Larabee’s list of All-SEC performers includes Bachkora, Wallace, Kimmy Beasley, Courtney Breault and Miranda Dixon.
Arkansas posted a 36-20 overall records in 2013 to go along with a 12-10 mark in Southeastern Conference play. The team’s overall and conference win totals are highs under Larabee’s direction. The team’s success translated to a No. 6 seed in the SEC Tournament-the program’s highest conference seeding since 2002-and a No. 2 seed in the Norman Regional of the NCAA Tournament.
The team’s success came with numerous single-season program records including batting average (.283), runs scored (304), runs batted in (274), walks (229), slugging percentage (.470), on-base percentage (.390) and stolen-base percentage (.859). The Razorbacks’ 61 home runs during the season represent the No. 2 single-season team total on the program’s all-time list. Three of Arkansas’ five highest home run totals have come under the guidance of Larabee (2010, 2012, 2013).
Along the way, Arkansas won nine games against ranked opponents in 2013 including series wins against No. 8 Missouri, No. 17 Kentucky and No. 22 Georgia. The Razorbacks also knocked off No. 2 Tennessee in a rain-shortened series in Knoxville.
The Razorbacks had an outstanding season in 2012, Larabee’s third year at the helm. The team tallied wins over No. 1 California, No. 3 Alabama, No. 7 Baylor, No. 9 Tennessee and No. 11 Georgia. The win over Alabama broke a 30-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide that dated back to the 2002 season. Arkansas was an at-large selection into the 2012 NCAA Tournament and advanced to the program’s first-ever NCAA Regional final in Berkeley against the top overall national seed Cal.
In 2012, Arkansas not only more than doubled its total wins and conference wins from the previous season, it more than tripled home runs hit with 60 on the season. That comes in third in Arkansas’ record books behind the 2008 and 2013 seasons, respectively.
The Razorbacks’ win over top-ranked Cal in the NCAA Tournament was the program’s second win over a No. 1 team under Larabee. During the pre-conference schedule of the 2011 season, Arkansas knocked off No. 1 UCLA at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev.
During the summer of 2010, Larabee served as an assistant coach for the USA Softball Futures Team. He assisted the team at the 2010 KFC World Cup of Softball presented by Six Flags where the Futures faced 2008 Olympic champion Japan, Canada and three-time Olympic champion Team USA. Larabee helped coach the Futures to a bronze medal at the World Cup.
During his first season at the helm of the Cardinal and White, the Razorbacks finished the season with an overall record of 28-29 and a 10-18 mark in conference play including a pair of victories over ninth-ranked Georgia. The back-to-back wins against Georgia represented the first time Arkansas has accomplished that feat since 2001.
Larabee and the Razorbacks opened conference play with an 8-2 record in 2010, a mark that represents the best start to SEC play in school history. The Razorbacks also qualified for the 2010 Southeastern Conference Softball Tournament, which was hosted by Arkansas and contested at Bogle Park. The back-to-back appearances in the tournament for the Razorbacks were the first for the program since it qualified for the tournament in 2001 and 2002.
“I am appreciative of the opportunity Jeff Long and the University of Arkansas has given me to lead the Razorback softball program,” Larabee said. “The University of Arkansas is a place where our coaching staff will work hard teaching and coaching the game while recruiting quality student-athletes. I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity than to coach in the Southeastern Conference at an outstanding institution known for its academic and athletic excellence.”
“At Arkansas we have all the ingredients for a nationally competitive program,” Larabee said. “Bogle Park is one of the best, if not the best, stadiums in the country. Our facilities will be a great draw in recruiting. When the job first came open, I did some research because I wanted it to be a good fit not only for me but for my family. After looking at the University of Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas, I felt like this was a great opportunity for all of us.”
With the team’s 36 wins in 2013, Larabee now owns a 106-116 overall record at Arkansas and a 220-263 tally in his nine-year head coaching career.
Larabee previously coached five seasons at Wright State in Dayton, Ohio, where his teams ranked among the nation’s top-15 in batting average in 2007 and 2008. He won 92 games in the last three seasons with the Horizon League tournament championships and NCAA Tournament bids in 2007 and 2008. In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Larabee is a two-time member of the United States National Softball Team coaching pool and was a two-time all-world selection during this playing career.
Larabee led Wright State to 34 wins in 2009, second-most in school history, while the 16-8 conference record also gave the Raiders the most league victories in the history of the program. The 33-26 record in 2008 was the first winning record for WSU since 2001, and the NCAA Tournament appearances in ’07 and ’08 were just the second and third in ever for Wright State.
During his five-year run with the Raiders, Larabee compiled a 114-147 overall record, a 49-51 mark in Horizon League play and a 12-6 record in the league tournament. In Larabee’s last two seasons, Wright State went 29-15 in league play.
The 2008 club won the Horizon League Tournament with wins over Loyola, Illinois-Chicago and two over regular-season champion Cleveland State to advance to an NCAA Regional in Ann Arbor, Mich., where the Raiders fell to Michigan and Kent State. Larabee was named Wright State’s Coach of the Year following the 2008 campaign.
The 2007 club was 25-35 overall, but won the conference tournament as the No. 7 seed with wins over Cleveland State, Butler, Illinois-Chicago and Cleveland State again. Wright State fell to Northwestern and Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament in Evanston, Ill.
With a 2-2 mark in the 2009 Horizon League Tournament, Larabee led his team to a 10-2 record in conference tournament play during the past three seasons.
Other 2009 highlights include six student-athletes earning All-Horizon League honors, a school record for team fielding percentage (.965), three individual single-season records and six individual career records. The Raiders were No. 15 in the nation with a .309 batting average, No. 35 with 5.15 runs scored per game and No. 37 with a .445 slugging percentage.
Larabee’s 2008 squad set 11 school records, including 67 home runs, which shattered the previous mark of 25 in 1999. WSU was No. 5 in the nation with 0.36 triples per game, No. 10 with a .315 batting average and a .510 slugging percentage, No. 12 with 5.85 runs and 1.14 home runs per game, and No. 23 with 1.46 doubles per game.
A former member of the U.S. National Men’s Fastpitch Team in 1996 and 2000, Larabee was named to the USA Women’s National Team Coaching Pool for the 2005-08 and 2009-12 Olympic Quadrenniums. As a result, he was part of the selection camp committee which chose participants for the Pan American Qualifying Team. That team competed in Guatemala in 2005 and qualified for the 2006 World Championships in Beijing, China, and the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In summer 2006, he was part of the coaching staff of the World University Games in Taiwan and helped the United States win the gold medal.
He was selected as a clinician for the NCAA Youth Education Through Sports (YES) clinic during the 2009 Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
Larabee was an assistant at the University of Illinois for three years (2002-04) prior to going to Wright State. In 2003, Illinois earned an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time. In 2004, Illinois ended the year ranked No. 17 in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll, was the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Waco Regional and came within one victory of advancing to the Women’s College World Series.
Larabee was head softball coach from 1998-2001, assistant football in 1997-2000 and coached wrestling from 1999-2000 at Kentlake High School in Kent, Wash. He also taught advanced weight training and speed development. He was named Class 4A softball Coach of the Year in 2001 after Kentlake finished second in the state. His 1998 team was fifth, while the 2000 team placed fourth. He was softball coach and assistant football coach at KHS In 1996 and 1997.
In his six years as a head coach at the prep level, Larabee’s teams managed a 145-25 record, with an 88-6 mark in the South Puget Sound League (SPSL), and he was named Seattle-Tacoma All-Area Coach of the Year in 1996 and 1999.
He won six consecutive SPSL North League titles (1996-2001) and his 2001 squad had the highest team grade point average in the state.
Larabee also worked one year as a pitching and outfield coach for the University of Puget Sound baseball team in 1992. Other coaching experience includes participating in the Diamond Basics Softball Clinics in Kent, Wash., from 1994-2001 and working as assistant baseball coach at Kent Meridian High School in 1994-95.
In addition to playing on the U.S. National Men’s Fastpitch Team, he also participated in the 1999 Pan American Games National Team Festival. A three-time American Softball Association All-American (1992, 1995, 1997), he played in the U.S. Olympic Sports Festival four times and was named to the ISC All-World Team twice (1990, 1997).
He played baseball at MiraCosta and Green River community colleges, and at Washington State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1986. He earned his master’s in exercise science from WSU in 1988. While working on his master’s, he was an assistant baseball coach at WSU, working with the outfielders.
Larabee and his wife Dawn have a daughter, Michaela, and a son, John.
Mike Larabee Quick Facts
As a Coach
Head Coach, Arkansas (2010-pres.) – NCAA Tournament Appearances: Two (2012, 2013)
Head Coach, Wright State (2005-09) – NCAA Tournament Appearances: Two (2007, 2008)
Championships: Two (Horizon League Tournament – 2007, 2008)
Assistant Coach, Team USA (2011)
Gold Medal, XVI Pan American Games
USA National Softball Team Pool Coach (2005-08, 2009-12)
Assistant Coach, University of Illinois (2002-04)
Head Coach, Kentlake (Wash.) High School (1998-2001)
Head Coach, Kentridge (Wash) High School (1996-97)
As a Player
U.S. National Men’s Fastpitch Team, 1996, 2000
Pan American Games National Team Festival, 1999
Played in the U.S. Olympic Sports Festival four times (Los Angeles, San Antonio, St. Louis, Denver)
Honors: Twice named ISC All-World (1990, 1997); Three-time American Softball Association All-American (1992, 1995, 1997)
Played men’s major open fastpitch softball from 1988-2000
Played baseball at Washington State, and Green River and MiraCosta community colleges