Balschmiter Returns To UMass, Stefanoni Promoted To Associate Head Coach
Sept. 11, 2012
AMHERST, Mass. - Massachusetts softball coach Elaine Sortino has announced changes to her staff for the 2013 season. Longtime assistant Kristi Stefanoni has been promoted to Associate Head Coach, while former three-time All-American Brandice Balschmiter has been hired as Assistant Coach.
Balschmiter was a four-year starter for UMass from 2006-09 where she compiled a 126-33 record with a 0.99 earned run average. She ended her career with 1,218 strikeouts, which, at the time, ranked 21st in NCAA Division I history. Additionally, her 126 victories are currently 10th, her 137 complete games are tied for 11th and her 68 shutouts are tied for 14th.
The native of Brockport, N.Y. was named the Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year and Tournament Most Outstanding Player all four years, in addition to being named A-10 Pitcher of the Week a record 28 times.
Balschmiter was the fifth overall pick in the 2009 National Pro Fastpitch Draft by the Chicago Bandits where she helped the team to the regular-season crown. She was a member of the 2009 Pan American Qualifier Gold Medal squad and an alternate for the 2010 U.S. National Team.
She graduated from UMass in 2010 with a degree in Studio Arts. She also finished her career with three perfect games and 10 no-hitters. She spent last season as an assistant at Roger Williams University.
"It's a great addition to our program to bring Brandice back home," Sortino said. "Over the past three years she has grown as a coach and compounded her understanding of teaching pitching. We look forward to a bright future with her."
Stefanoni has spent seven seasons on the UMass staff, including the last six as an assistant coach. During her tenure the Minutewomen have a cumulative record of 231-79-2 (.743), 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.
Working with the UMass outfielders for the last six seasons, Stefanoni has coached 11 Atlantic 10 All-Conference outfielders and back-to-back Conference Players of the Year in Carly Normandin (2009) and Katie Bettencourt (2010). Normandin was a 2009 NFCA All-American and, along with Lauren Proctor, each earned three All-Conference nods.
Stefanoni's work with slap hitters has also yielded two of the best in program history. Candice Molinari was a first-team All-Conference centerfielder twice while compiling .388 and .401 batting averages with 46 combined stolen bases in her junior and senior seasons in 2006 and 2007, Stefanoni's first two as assistant coach, coming after a pair of sub-.300 seasons. Centerfielder Cyndil Matthew burst on the scene as a sophomore in 2011, batting a team-best .324 with 22 runs scored and earning All-Conference honors before grabbing Easton Second Team All-America plaudits in 2012 when she hit .409 with a .476 on-base percentage and a single-season school-record 36 steals.
A 2006 graduate of UMass with a degree in Psychology, Stefanoni was a co-captain for the Minutewomen her senior year. She started almost every game at second base her last three seasons while being one of the most disciplined players at the plate. Stefanoni compiled a career fielding percentage of .950 in nearly 500 chances.
The native of Columbus, New Jersey scored 75 runs in her career while compiling a .350 on-base percentage. She dropped down 24 sacrifice bunts, stole 26 bases and successfully advanced runners almost 50 percent of the time in her career. Stefanoni had 14 career doubles, two triples, one home run and 27 RBI as well as 11 multi-hit and five multi-RBI games in her career.
"Kristi's coaching and leadership skills have grown exponentially and I am proud to promote her to this position," Sortino added. "We are proud to have a completely home-grown UMass staff."
UMass opened fall practice last weekend and will compete in the first of three fall competition dates on Saturday, Sept. 22. The Minutewomen will play Boston College at 11 a.m. and Sacred Heart at 1 p.m. The program's alumni weekend will take place Oct. 6-7.