FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long announced on Thursday the hiring of Courtney Deifel as head coach of the University of Arkansas softball program. Deifel, who led Maryland to a 16-game improvement in her first season as a head coach in 2015, becomes the fourth head coach in Arkansas’ program history.
“We are pleased to announce Courtney Deifel as our head coach and welcome her to the University of Arkansas family,” Long said. “Courtney’s coaching pedigree, her success as a student-athlete and her ability to transform and cultivate a winning culture as a head coach are qualities we are looking to instill in our program. She’s a proven winner and competitor and that was on full display last year during her team’s remarkable turnaround. I was extremely impressed with her competitiveness and desire to lead our program against the best softball programs in the country. Courtney is a rising star and we are happy to have her leading the Arkansas softball program.”
During her playing and coaching careers, Deifel has advanced to 11 NCAA Tournaments including a four-year run to the Women’s College World Series (WCWS) as an All-American catcher at California that was highlighted by winning the 2002 national title. The Bears also finished second (2003), fifth (2001) and seventh (2000) at the WCWS over her four-year run. Her postseason successes also feature a pair of Super Regionals as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma and five NCAA Regionals as an assistant at Maryland and Louisville.
As a first-year head coach, Deifel ushered in a culture of change for Maryland in 2015. Along with the program’s 16-game improvement from the previous season, the Terrapins’ offense show tremendous growth. Maryland finished 27th in the NCAA with 6.28 runs per game behind 339 runs scored, up more than 150 runs from 2014. Deifel also led her team to a .309 batting average, a 40-point jump from 2014 which also ranked 57th in the NCAA.
Individually, Deifel guided three players to all-conference accolades and a pair of NFCA all-region honors. Lindsey Schmeister was an All-Big Ten first team performer while Shannon Bustillos and Erin Pronobis landed on the All-Big Ten second team. Probonis and Corey Schwartz were also named to the NFCA All-Midwest Region Third Team. Under Deifel’s watch, the trio helped Maryland to single-season school records in doubles, home runs, RBI and walks.
Prior to taking the head job at Maryland, Deifel spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Louisville in which she helped the Cardinals to four NCAA appearances, the 2014 American Athletic Conference Tournament title and an overall record of 176-60 (.746). Louisville averaged 44 wins in that time with a program-record 55 wins in 2012. Her student-athletes at Louisville racked up four NFCA All-America certificates and 29 all-conference selections.
Deifel played in 285 games in her career at California, missing just three games behind the plate over her four years. As a four-year starter, she was a 2003 All-American, two-time All-Pac 10 selection and caught seven no-hitters. Scott is still the program’s career leader with 1,969 putouts.
Aside from her accomplishments in collegiate softball, Deifel had a successful professional career following her days at Cal. In 2004, she helped the NY/NJ Juggernaut to the National Professional Fastpitch (NPF) league title. Deifel also spent three years with LeoPalac21 in Japan that resulted in a runner-up showing and a pair of third-place finishes.