BUFFALO, NY - Assistant coach Mike Ruechel has been named the interim head coach for the University at Buffalo softball program, Director of Athletics Mark Alnutt announced on Monday afternoon. Ruechel will be replacing Mike Roberts who left the program for a position at Louisiana Lafayette.
"In an effort to provide a smooth transition and in the best interests of our student-athletes, we have made the decision to name Mike Ruechel interim Head Coach for our softball program," said Director of Athletics Mark Alnutt. "We look forward to having the program grow under his leadership."
Ruechel spent last season as the Bulls top assistant coach and hitting coach as UB was able to improve in almost every category offensively as a team. Ruechel helped the UB offense nearly triple their home run output from the 2017 season as the powerful Bulls lineup notched 29 home runs while also raising the team batting average from .236 in 2017 to .263 last season. Under Ruechel's watchful eye, the Bulls scored nearly 50 more runs this season while also raising the team slugging percentage to .405 and the team on base percentage to .348.
With Ruechel's help last season, freshman outfielder Anna Aguon was able to produce a huge season at the dish for the Bulls and earned First Team All-MAC honors for her efforts. The Vancouver, WA native posted a .359 batting average to go along with a team-best seven home runs, 36 runs scored and 35 RBI while leading the squad with a .633 slugging percentage and a .451 on base percentage. Ruechel also helped Jenelle Martinez have a career year at the dish as she posted a team-best .364 batting average to go along with six homers, a team-high 37 RBI and 19 runs scored while earning Second Team All-MAC honors.
Prior to Buffalo, Ruechel spent two seasons at Indiana Wesleyan University as assistant coach and hitting coach for the program. He helped the Wildcats earn their first national tournament berth in school history while also posting a program record for wins. Over his two seasons, the Wildcats posted 120 home runs and 184 doubles after only recording five home runs and 99 doubles in the previous two seasons before his arrival.
Ruechel has also spent time as the hitting coach for the Lake Erie Crushers, Southeastern Illinois College and Judson University.
Prior to working in the collegiate ranks, Ruechel spent 22 seasons working in the Oconto School District in his home state of Wisconsin. As the head coach of the varsity softball program, he revamped a failing program that won just four games prior to his arrival and helped them win a Regional Championship within two seasons. He led the squad to two regional championship games and a sectional final while compiling a 63-27 record across four seasons.
Ruechel and his wife, Debbie, have two children, Natalie and Evan.