Virginia head coach Eileen Schmidt announced Tuesday the hiring of Geoff Hirai and Heidi Freitager as assistant softball coaches. Freitager begins her duties Aug. 11 and Hirai begins Aug. 25.
“We are very fortunate to have Geoff and Heidi join the Virginia family,” Schmidt said. “They are both very knowledgeable and energetic on and off the field. They understand what we are trying to do here and the process and time it is going to take. At the same time, Geoff and Heidi realize how special this University is and have committed to helping this program grow into a national contender while still staying true to what the University of Virginia is all about.”
Hirai, who will serve as hitting coach while also spearheading Virginia’s recruiting efforts, spent the past three seasons as an assistant at the University of Washington. During his time in Seattle, the Huskies advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times, including a berth in the 2007 Women’s College World Series. Hirai helped mentor five All-Americans (two-time honoree Ashley Charters, Dominique Lastrapes, Danielle Lawrie and Dena Tyson) and one Olympian (Canada’s Lastrapes) over his three-year stint.
“Geoff is all about teaching and our players are all about learning,” Schmidt said. “He brings a great resource of knowledge in softball, and life, to help our players continue to grow. Washington is a World Series program and that is what we are trying to achieve. We have gained an attitude and a swagger that comes with those types of successes.
“Geoff’s ability to relate to our hitters from both a technical standpoint and a mental standpoint is going to further help us climb that ladder,” Schmidt continued. “From his baseball background as a scout, he knows talent and how to find it. He is dynamic from a recruiting standpoint.”
Hirai worked as owner, instructor and coach at the All-Star Dugout in Irvine, Calif., before coaching at Washington. He also coached an 18-under travel team for four seasons, providing individual instruction to athletes pursuing careers in the collegiate and professional baseball ranks.
Prior to becoming the owner of the All-Star Dugout, Hirai was an associate scout with the Cincinnati Reds baseball organization from 2001-03. In this capacity, Hirai was responsible for evaluating players that may be draft worthy.
Hirai played collegiate baseball at Hawaii-Hilo, where he was a four-year letterwinner. He graduated in 1998 with a bachelor of arts degree in history and was an assistant coach for three seasons at Hawai’i-Hilo while working to obtain his teaching certificate in secondary education.
Freitager, who will coach Virginia’s pitchers, arrives in Charlottesville after a one-year stint at Temple.
“Heidi is going to be great for our pitching staff,” Schmidt said. “This area of the game is the most important and Heidi brings a maturity and consistency level that they need. From a consistent mechanical aspect to the mental game, Heidi’s ability to relate these to our players is essential. Her preparation from practice to games is phenomenal. Heidi’s structure is exactly what this staff needs to be successful and there is no doubt she can help them get to that next level.”
Before arriving in Philadelphia, Freitager spent two years as the head coach at Everglades High School in Miramar, Fla. She led Everglades to the 2007 6A state championship while claiming two district titles. She also guided the West Pines Diamond Dusters 18 Gold squad during her time in Florida.
Prior to coaching in the high school ranks, Freitager served as an assistant at Nova Southeastern (2005), Morehead State (2004) and New Mexico State (2003).
Freitager played for Northern Iowa (1997-2001) where she started at catcher for four seasons and led her team to the Missouri Valley Conference championship in 2000. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in science in 2001.