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Kristi Stefanoni Named UMass Softball Interim Head Coach; Danielle Henderson Rejoins Program As Associate Head Coach

Release: 09/03/2013
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Courtesy: Atlantic 10 Conference

AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts has announced that longtime assistant Kristi Stefanoni has been named Interim Head Softball Coach, while former All-American and Olympic Gold Medalist Danielle Henderson has been hired as Associate Head Coach.

The duo has been associated with UMass softball as a coach or student-athlete for every season dating back to the 1996 campaign - a span of 979 games and 55 percent of the program's 39-year existence.

"We are extremely fortunate to have Kristi and Danielle to provide leadership, direction and stability this coming year," UMass Athletic Director John McCutcheon said. "During the spring semester we will have an opportunity to evaluate our options as we move toward a permanent appointment.

"I cannot thank Kristi enough for her contributions, particularly during this very challenging past year. I am also extremely pleased that Danielle has made the commitment to rejoin the program at this time. Working together, we will all dedicate ourselves to continue the tradition and excellence of UMass Softball that is the legacy of Elaine Sortino."

Additionally, assistant coach Brandice Balschmiter has left the program to pursue other interests.

Stefanoni has spent seven seasons on the UMass staff, including six as an assistant coach and last year as associate head coach. During her tenure the Minutewomen have a cumulative record of 249-104-2 (.704), winning the Atlantic 10 Championship and advancing to the NCAA Tournament five times each. In Stefanoni's four years as a player, UMass went 151-64-1 (.715) with three A-10 Championships, four NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Super Regional berth in 2006. She has been a part of the program for 10 years, being a part of 382 victories.

Working with the UMass outfielders for the last seven seasons, Stefanoni has coached 13 Atlantic 10 All-Conference selections and back-to-back Conference Players of the Year in Carly Normandin (2009) and Katie Bettencourt (2010). Normandin was a 2009 NFCA All-American and, along with Lauren Proctor, each earned three All-Conference nods. Stefanoni's work with slap hitters has also yielded two of the best in program history - Candice Molinari and Cyndil Matthew.

A 2006 graduate of UMass with a degree in Psychology, Stefanoni was a co-captain for the Minutewomen her senior year. She started almost every game at second base her last three seasons while being one of the most disciplined players at the plate. Stefanoni compiled a career fielding percentage of .950 in nearly 500 chances. The native of Columbus, New Jersey scored 75 runs in her career while compiling a .350 on-base percentage. She dropped down 24 sacrifice bunts, stole 26 bases and successfully advanced runners almost 50 percent of the time in her career. Stefanoni had 14 career doubles, two triples, one home run and 27 RBI as well as 11 multi-hit and five multi-RBI games in her career.

Henderson returns to UMass after six years as a private pitching instructor and the last three as assistant coach at Stanford (2013) and Ohio State (2011-12).

In 2013, the Cardinal went 39-21 and finished the season ranked 21st in the country, while advancing the finals of the NCAA Lincoln Regional. Kelsey Stevens was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team after compiling a 15-7 record, a 2.99 ERA, a team-high 163 strikeouts, seven shutouts and a perfect game against Virginia.

She spent two seasons at Ohio State where the Buckeyes won 45 games and were 31-23 in 2012. Senior transfer Mikayla Endicott amassed an 18-14 record, with three saves, a 2.56 ERA and 189 strikeouts.

Henderson spent six years on the UMass coaching staff under NFCA Hall of Famer Elaine Sortino from 2000-05. UMass went 242-97-1 during that time with five NCAA Regional appearances and five Atlantic 10 titles. In 2002, the Minutewomen established school benchmarks with a 33-game winning streak and 53 overall victories.

One of the most decorated athletes in school history, the Commack, N.Y. native was a three-time All-America, four-time All-Atlantic 10 selection and the only four-time A-10 Tournament Most Outstanding Player in league annals.

She finished her UMass career with 25 school records and was second all-time on the NCAA strikeout list with 1,343 (currently 17th). As a senior in 1999, she set an NCAA record for consecutive scoreless innings, stretching out 105 empty frames from March 16-May 2. She also reeled-off a 26-game win streak (Feb. 27-May 21), which was the seventh-best streak in NCAA history (currently ninth).

In her four years in Amherst, she posted a 108-35 record in 161 appearances (964 innings), a 0.70 ERA, 72 shutouts, 135 complete games and threw an astounding 14 no-hitters and three perfect games. UMass won four A-10 championships, went 10-5 over four NCAA Regionals and advanced to the Women's College World Series in 1997 & 1998. She was named to the 1997 WCWS All-Tournament team.

She capped a brilliant career in 1999 by winning the Honda Award, given annually to the nation's top softball player. During the summer of that year she competed with the U.S. National Team that captured the gold medal at the Pan American Games and Canada Cup.

Henderson was a member of the gold-medal winning 2000 U.S. Olympic Softball team and the 2001 WPSL Gold team. In 2002 she was inducted into the New England Women's Sports Hall of Fame.

In 2001, she had her jersey number 44 retired, becoming the first and only player in program history to receive such an honor. Her jersey is one of just nine in school history to be retired. She was inducted in the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.

Henderson received her bachelor's degree in Sport Management from UMass in 1999. She also played professionally for four years in the National Pro Fastpitch league for the Akron Racers, Arizona Heat and New England Riptide.
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