Wittenberg Names Laura Matthews New Softball Head Coach
Springfield, Ohio — Wittenberg Director of Athletics and Recreation Garnett Purnell has announced the hiring of Laura Matthews as the university's new softball head coach. Matthews replaces Becky Hall, who resigned in May to accept the director of athletics position at Oglethorpe University.
A 2008 graduate of the University of Dayton, Matthews comes to Wittenberg after a successful four-year stint as an assistant coach at Lake Forest College. After serving as one of the team's hitting coaches and working with the team's infielders in 2009 and 2010, Matthews took over the pitching staff the last two years and helped the Foresters drop their team earned run average by 0.70 runs per game in 2012.
Lake Forest posted an overall record of 72-68-1 during Matthews' four years on campus. The Foresters reached the Midwest Conference Tournament each of the last four years and secured the No. 1 seed after winning the South Division in three of those seasons. In 2010, Lake Forest finished second in the conference tournament en route to a 24-14-1 overall record. At one point, the team ranked 24th nationally.
Since 2010, Matthews also worked as the internship and alumni programs coordinator in Lake Forest College's Career Advancement Center. Prior to that, she worked as a business development associate for Kemper Sports Management for two years, representing the company at trade shows and conferences.
"I am very grateful to the Wittenberg administration for giving me the opportunity to lead such well-rounded student-athletes at a dynamic, well-respected university," Matthews said. "I am excited to guide the Wittenberg softball program going forward and continuing to build upon the success and tradition of Wittenberg athletics."
Before graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management from the University of Dayton, Matthews served a pair of internships in her hometown of Nashville, Tenn., as a sports marketing intern with Vanderbilt University in 2006 and with the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League in 2007.
Matthews was a four-year starter at catcher at Dayton, capping her career with second-team ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America Softball Team in 2008. That season, she posted career-bests in hits (44), runs (37), doubles (8), runners caught stealing (16) and a team-best .462 on-base percentage while starting all 51 games behind the plate for the Flyers.
"Laura is an excellent student of the game and an effective teacher," Purnell said. "Those skill sets will go a long way in enhancing the development of our returning players and the new students joining the team this fall.
"She is coming from a very successful program. Her strong organizational skills, along with her playing and coaching experience, will give us an effective coach and leader for the softball program and the athletic department."
Matthews takes over a Tiger softball team that finished 23-17 overall and 7-9 in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) in 2012 under Hall, who won program-record 285 games in 14 seasons at Wittenberg. The Tigers expect at least eight returning letterwinners, led by two-time all-conference centerfielder Laura Rose, class of 2014 from Riverside, Ohio, to be joined by as many as 12 new recruits for the 2013 season.
Written By: Ryan Maurer