Cavaliers return eight starters and 13 letterwinners
Virginia All-American Eileen Schmidt is in her sixth season at the helm of the Cavalier softball program.
In just five seasons, Schmidt has led her alma mater to the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance in addition to mentoring five all-conference and five all-region honorees.
During the 2012 season, junior pitcher Melanie Mitchell matched UVa's career starts record and senior outfielder Giannina Cipolloni set UVa's career stolen bases record. Mitchell, a second-team All-ACC selection, also joined Cipolloni and sophomore infielder Erica Cipolloni, as members of the second-team all-region squad.
In 2011, freshman Stephanie Harris was a second-team All-ACC selection while junior Giannina Cipolloni was honored on the second team all-region squad. Schmidt, entering her 10th season as a head coach in the college ranks, also eclipsed the 200 win mark in 2011. At the ACC Championship, UVa became the first No. 8 seed to upset a No. 1 seed when the Cavaliers shut out host Georgia Tech 6-0 to earn a berth in the semifinals. Sophomores Marcy Bowdren and Melanie Mitchell were both selected to the ACC All-Tournament team, the first such honor for Virginia since 2005.
Prior to the 2011 campaign, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced that Schmidt would be one of 24 coaches selected to the 2011-2012 Women's National Team Coaching pool, a prestigious appointment.
Schmidt guided Virginia to a year of firsts in 2010. The team recorded a second-place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings with a school record 13 league victories and received its first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers, playing in their first tournament game at the Knoxville Regional, tallied the program's first NCAA win in a 1-0 victory over Louisville.
In 2010, Schmidt coached freshman pitcher Melanie Mitchell to first-team All-ACC honors, while seniors Nicole Koren and Sarah Tacke were each second-team all-conference selections. The trio of Mitchell, Koren and Tacke each garnered first-team all-region honors as well.
Upon arriving at UVa in the summer of 2007, Schmidt spearheaded an effort to renovate the team's facility, The Park, which received a facelift prior to the 2009 season. Upgrades at The Park included a new playing surface, drainage and irrigation system, dugouts, bullpens, a second batting cage, and a new scoreboard, fence and backstop.
In her first season as the head coach at Virginia, Schmidt and the Cavaliers increased their ACC wins from one to six in 2008. Schmidt also helped guide shortstop Carly Winger to the all-conference second team. In 2009, her second year, the Cavaliers finished with a winning record (25-22) for the first time since the 2006 campaign.
Schmidt returned to her alma mater after serving a three-year stint as head coach at Kentucky and a two-year stint Northwestern State.
Only the second head coach in Kentucky's history, Schmidt's quest to build the Wildcats into a contender in the highly competitive Southeastern Conference included several milestones for the UK program. In 2007, the Wildcats had three players earn All-SEC honors for the first time and senior shortstop Brooke Marnitz was named first team all-south region.
The 2007 Wildcats set a school record with 56 home runs, shattering the previous record of 37 set in 2004. They also tied the school mark with 66 doubles and broke the school record for RBI with 237. In 2006, her team earned votes in the national polls for the first time after knocking off 13th-ranked Washington in the season opener.
During Schmidt's two years at Northwestern State, the Demons compiled a 62-61 record including a 35-28 mark in 2004. Schmidt coached 12 All-Southland Conference selections while taking the Demons to the conference tournament both seasons. In 2004, NSU advanced to the tournament championship game.
Schmidt's coaching resume includes seven seasons in the SEC as an assistant. She began her coaching career at South Carolina in the fall of 1994 and helped guide the squad to a 50-win season and an NCAA Regional appearance in 1995.
Schmidt left Columbia and was named to the first-ever softball staff at Arkansas in the fall of 1995, where she helped build the Hogs' program from the ground up. Schmidt was on staff with the Lady Razorbacks for more than a year before they opened collegiate softball play in the spring of 1997. Schmidt assisted Arkansas to two NCAA Regional appearances and a 126-90 record in her final three seasons there.
Schmidt, a native of Barto, Pa., competed for Virginia from 1991-94. She was the first Cavalier softball player to earn all-ACC honors three times (1992, 1993 and 1994) and became Virginia's first All-American. Schmidt, a catcher, captured third-team All-America accolades in 1994. She was named the 1993 ACC Player of the Year and was chosen to the ACC all-tournament team in 1993 and 1994.
While working at Arkansas, Schmidt earned her master's degree in education in 2000. She earned her undergraduate degree in communications from Virginia in 1994.