Panthers smack six home runs in doubleheader sweep of Virginia
Holly Aprile enters her sixth season as the head coach and her 11th season overall for the University of Pittsburgh softball program. Under the guidance of Aprile, the Panthers have established numerous school records and have seen multiple players accomplish unprecedented success.
The 2013 campaign saw a program first as freshman Tori Nirschl was named the Big East Rookie of the Year. Nirschl is the first ever major award winner for the Pitt softball program, which includes Rookie, Player or Pitcher of the Year. Nirschl garnered third-team all-conference honors as a freshman.
Aprile also saw 2013 graduate Holly Stevens become the most prolific player in program history. Stevens graduated as the all-time leader in home runs (34) and runs batted in (127), and ranks second all-time in total bases (303), fourth in hits (177) and fifth in both runs scored (102) and walks (69).
An All-American pitcher and outfielder at the University of Massachusetts ('92), Aprile helped guide Savannah King to one of the best individual pitching season in history in 2012. As a freshman, King set Pitt's single-season mark for wins at 19 and innings pitched at 227.1. Her ERA of 1.72 tied a single-season record for lowest in program history, and she notched the second most strikeouts in school history at 196.
That 2012 squad ranked among the top of the Big East in several categories, including second in assists, third in triples and fifth in ERA. Kelly Hmiel and Holly Stevens garnered all-conference honors that season, highlighted by first team honors for Hmiel. Hmiel is rated among the Panther greats in several offensive categories, which includes the all-time batting average title (.330).
Aprile directed the 2011 team to its best season in program history as numerous school records fell, both individually and as a team. The team finished with a 34-17 overall record and a 13-8 mark in Big East play. The 34 overall victories and 13 conference wins were both the most in school history, while that year marked only the third time in program history that Pitt captured 30-plus wins.
The Panthers won 10 of their final 13 games in 2011, including six-straight in their first-ever season at Vartabedian Field. In addition to achieving a record 34 wins, Pitt set program marks in home runs (51) and shutouts (14).
Statistically, the 2011 team ranked among the NCAA top-50 in fielding percentage (.972-20th), triples per game (0.27 - 25th), slugging percentage (.466 - 35th), stolen bases per game (1.55- 36th), home runs per game (1.0-36th) and team ERA (2.1-41st).
That same team set another program record when four Panthers earned their first-ever All-Big East honors. Individually, four Panthers ranked among the nation's elite, while Hmiel was selected the program's first-ever National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Player of the Week on March 15.
Additionally, Aprile guided Pitt's pitching trio of Alyssa O'Connell, Cory Berliner and Karlyn Jones to new heights. The team ranked second in the Big East and 39th in the NCAA in earned run average. The tandem, who all hold school records, yielded 138 runs, 100 earned runs, and 87 walks, all of which were the fewest in the conference. Furthermore, the trio combined for a team-record 14 shutouts and had conference top-ten ERAs.
Aprile became the second head coach in Pitt softball history in July, 2008. The Afton, N.Y. native stepped into the top spot after five seasons as a Panthers assistant.
Aprile joined the Pitt staff after spending nine seasons as an assistant coach at the University of South Carolina. From 1995-2003, she helped guide the Gamecocks to seven NCAA Regional appearances and a College World Series berth in 1997.
Aprile also worked as a graduate assistant coach at Eastern Illinois University, where she earned her master's degree in political science in 1995.
Aprile graduated from UMass in 1992 with a degree in Sport Management. A pitcher/outfielder, she was a four-time all-conference first team selection (1989-92) and twice was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. In addition, Aprile was also tabbed the 1992 A-10 Pitcher of the Year, 1989 A-10 Rookie of the Year and twice was named the A-10 Tournament's outstanding pitcher (1989, 1992).
She was named to both the All-Northeast Region squad and the All-New England team on two occasions and was a 1992 ECAC All-Star team selection, as well as an All A-10 Academic honoree.
Aprile played a pivotal role in leading UMass to its first trip to the College World Series in 1992, and closed her career with a then-school record 77 victories. In honor of her achievements, she was inducted into the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame just three years after her graduation.
She was also a participant on the United States National Team from 1993-99, competing in the U.S. Olympic Festival (1993-97), Pan Am Qualifying (1994, 1997) and the South Pacific Classic (1998).
ALL-CONFERENCE HONOREES UNDER APRILE
Third Team All-Big East, 2010
Second Team All-Big East, 2011-12
Big East Rookie of the Year; Third Team All-Big East, 2013
Third-Team All-Big East, 2011
Second Team All-Big East, 2011; Third-Team All-Big East, 2012