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Kristi Stefanoni named UMass softball interim head coach; Danielle Henderson returns to program

  • COURTESY UMASS<br/>Former UMass All-American and Olympic gold medalist Danielle Henderson, center, has return to the program as an associate head coach.

    COURTESY UMASS
    Former UMass All-American and Olympic gold medalist Danielle Henderson, center, has return to the program as an associate head coach. Purchase photo reprints »

  • THOM KENDALL<br/>Longtime UMass softball assistant coach Kristi Stefanoni has been named interim head coach of the program. Stefanoni replaces longtime coach Elaine Sortino, who passed away Aug. 18 following a two-year battle with cancer.

    THOM KENDALL
    Longtime UMass softball assistant coach Kristi Stefanoni has been named interim head coach of the program. Stefanoni replaces longtime coach Elaine Sortino, who passed away Aug. 18 following a two-year battle with cancer. Purchase photo reprints »

  • COURTESY UMASS<br/>Former UMass All-American and Olympic gold medalist Danielle Henderson, center, has return to the program as an associate head coach.
  • THOM KENDALL<br/>Longtime UMass softball assistant coach Kristi Stefanoni has been named interim head coach of the program. Stefanoni replaces longtime coach Elaine Sortino, who passed away Aug. 18 following a two-year battle with cancer.

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.

Stefanoni replaces longtime coach Elaine Sortino, who passed away Aug. 18 following a two-year battle with cancer.

Stefanoni and Henderson have 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 in a statement. “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.

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.

Henderson spent two seasons at Ohio State where the Buckeyes won 45 games and were 31-23 in 2012.

Henderson spent six years on the UMass coaching staff under 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.

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