BUFFALO, NY – After two seasons with the Bulls, Mike Ruechel has been named head coach for the University at Buffalo softball program, Director of Athletics Mark Alnutt announced on Thursday afternoon. Jody Hennigar and Cortney Radke will also stay on as assistant coaches.
"We're happy with the progress of the softball program under Mike's leadership and we believe that this is the best decision to continue that upward trend," said Director of Athletics Mark Alnutt. "I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Mike and his staff and the direction that the program is going."
"We look for coaches with integrity who can provide an environment where our student-athletes thrive academically, athletically and develop their talents and skills," said Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Sports Administration/Senior Women's Administrator Kathy Twist. "Mike and his staff are the coaches who can cultivate a winning mindset for our UB softball team."
After spending the 2018 season as the Bulls top assistant coach and hitting coach, Ruechel was named interim head coach of the Bulls in August. With just a few regular season games remaining, UB has improved in several offensive categories once again in 2019 as the Bulls offense has notched 33 home runs, up from 29 in 2018, smacked 57 doubles, up from 48 a season ago and has shown discipline at the plate, drawing 151 walks on the year. Under Ruechel's tutelage, the Bulls have also raised the team slugging percentage to .408 and the team on base percentage to .360.
Under Ruechel's watchful eye, sophomore outfielder Anna Aguon has continued to excel as she currently leads the Bulls and ranks in the top 10 in the MAC in batting average (.395), doubles (13) and hits (51). Aguon also leads this year's squad in runs scored (25), slugging percentage (.628) and on base percentage (.451). Ruechel has also been instrumental in the development of freshman Alexis Matheney who has a .240 batting average to go with a team best six home runs, eight doubles, 19 RBI and 24 runs scored, good for second-best on the team.
"I'm very thankful to the administration for believing in the process that we've been working on the past two years," said Ruechel. "We've seen tremendous growth this year and with a handful of new talent coming in we are looking forward to taking this program to the next level."
In 2018, 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 in 2018. With Ruechel's help, Aguon was able to produce a huge season at the dish for the Bulls and earned First Team All-MAC honors for her efforts, while Jenelle Martinez earned 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.
Ruechel has also spent time as the hitting coach for the Lake Erie Crushers, Southeastern Illinois College and Judson University.
Ruechel and his wife, Debbie, have two children, Natalie and Evan.