University Of Massachusetts Statement On The Passing Of Softball Head Coach Elaine Sortino
Aug 19, 2013
AMHERST, Mass. - It was with great sadness that the University of Massachusetts received news that longtime head softball coach Elaine Sortino, 63, passed away on Sunday, August 18 following a lengthy battle with cancer.
"We have lost a very special and amazing person in Elaine," said Director of Athletics John McCutcheon. "We loved her tremendously. She was a true gift. It's hard to envision UMass without her and there is no way we can express the loss that we feel.
"She impacted so many people during her life and was a true inspiration who left an indelible mark on us all. Not only has the University of Massachusetts lost one of its brightest stars, but so too has the entire softball world."
Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade expressed her thoughts and condolences on Sunday night after receiving the news.
"The Atlantic 10 family is greatly saddened by the passing of UMass coach ElaineSortino. She influenced many student-athletes, coaches and administrators during her years at Massachusetts," McGlade stated. "She will be deeply missed, but her impact on the A-10, softball and college athletics will be felt foryears to come."
Memorial arrangements will be announced when they are finalized.
News of Sortino's passing hit social media late Sunday night with hundreds of former players, coaches from across the country, fans, collegiate administrators and coaches from other sports expressing their grief but also sharing the impact the longtime coach made on their lives.
One of the all-time great coaches in collegiate softball, Sortino coached 34 seasons at UMass, where she compiled a 1,185-508-6 (.705) record, led the Minutewomen to 21 NCAA Tournament appearances and three trips to the WCWS. Sortino, who was the third-winningest active NCAA Division I coach at the conclusion of the 2013 campaign, led the Minutewomen to 23 Atlantic 10 regular-season titles and 23 tournament championships. Her 1,185 wins placed her eighth inNCAA history and seventh all-time among Division I ranks.
A native of Yonkers, N.Y., Sortino posted a 218-134-1 record as UMass' volleyball coach from 1979-1986. A 1971 graduate of Oneonta State (N.Y.) University, she earned her master's degree from the University of Bridgeport in 1973. Sortino was inducted into the NFCA Hall of Fame in 2004.
Over the years, Sortino coached a Honda Award winner, an Olympic Gold Medalist, three USA and Canadian National Team members, 21 All-America selections, 15 A-10 Players of the Year, 18 A-10 Pitchers of the Year, nine A-10 Rookies of theYear and 133 all-conference selections.
One of the most gifted pitching mentors in the game, former pupils Danielle Henderson (1996-99), Brandice Balschmiter (2006-09) and Sara Plourde (2009-12) all ended their careers among the top 15 all-time in various NCAA Division I categories, including games started, complete games, innings pitched, victories, strikeouts and shutouts.
Dozens of her former players have gone on to coaching careers, with five former assistants and players currently holding NCAA head coaching positions.
The softball program moved from Totman Field to the southwest corner of campus prior to the 2000 season and has posted a 220-30-1 (.896) mark at home since that year.
The complex was renovated to its current size with a seating capacity of 1,000 before the 2008 campaign. A new outfield wall was installed in 2011 and three outdoor batting cages were completed in April 2012. It also features six pitching mounds across two bullpens and heated dugouts with restrooms.
The facility was renamed Sortino Field in September 2012 and has played host tofive NCAA Regionals from 2006-10 and five A-10 Tournaments.
Sortino, one of the top softball coaches in NCAA history, was been the driving force behind the more than $350,000 raised for the current facility.
Sortino also served as Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator with direct oversight of several sports. She oversaw student-athlete services, sports medicine, strength & conditioning, athletic health enhancement and the life skills program. Sortino served as tournament manager for the 1995 NCAA women's volleyball championship and was a key member of the NCAA Certification Committee in 1995-1996. She also served on the NCAA Softball Committee in 2003 and 2004 and has been an active voting member of the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 Poll.
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