St. Louis, Mo., July 6, 2016 – Washington University in St. Louis Interim Director of Athletics Justin X. Carroll announced the hiring of Michelle Venturella as head coach of the Bears' softball team.
Venturella is the third softball coach in program history and replaces Leticia Pineda-Boutté, who resigned after leading WashU the past 11 seasons.
For the past eight seasons Venturella has served as head coach at NCAA Division I University of Illinois at Chicago. She has recorded a 195-205 (.488) record at UIC, leading the Flames to four Horizon League regular season championships (2009, 2013, 2015, 2016) and a Horizon League tournament title and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2011.
The South Holland, Ill., native is also a three-time Horizon League Coach of the Year honoree (2009, 2013, 2016).
Venturella was a standout catcher for Indiana University from 1991-95, earning All-America honors in 1994 and 1995, and was inducted into Indiana's Hall of Fame in 2012. She was named the Big Ten Player of the Year in 1994, and was a member of the 1994 Big Ten Championship Team.
Venturella had a six-year stint on the USA National Team, playing on the 1998 World Championship Team and earning a gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. She was also part of the first-ever Olympic softball team as an alternate in 1996.
"I want to thank Justin Carroll and Sara Burton for giving me this incredible opportunity to be a part of the WashU family," Venturella said. "I am excited to start this journey with everyone in the community and continue to build on the tradition of excellence that WashU softball has already established."
She led UIC to the Horizon League regular season championship in 2016 after posting a program-best 18 conference wins and a 33-18 overall record. The 33 wins are the most since the 2005 season. Venturella mentored Elaine Heflin to Horizon League Pitcher of the Year and Lexi Watts to Freshman of the Year accolades.
Upon taking over the program in 2008, she guided UIC to 16 wins in conference play during the 2009 campaign and a trip to the conference championship game. The Flames also won the Horizon League regular season title.
In 2011, Venturella led the squad to a 25-24 mark and a Horizon League Championship. She also returned the team to the NCAA Tournament, a feat they had not accomplished since 2004.
Venturella guided the Flames to a 24-22 record and a Horizon League Championship in 2015, and Heflin and Tiana Mack-Miller brought home Horizon League Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors, respectively.
"I am very pleased that Michelle is joining the Washington University community and will be leading our softball program," said Carroll. "When I first met Michelle, I knew immediately that she was meant to be a "Bear." Her dynamic personality, unique background, and her coaching pedigree makes her well-prepared for this very important position. Michelle brings a competitive mindset along with a student-centered philosophy that will provide a positive impact within our program."
Venturella mentored 32 student-athletes to Horizon League all-conference honors while at UIC, including 21 first-team honorees. She also saw eight student-athletes earn National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Region honors, including first-team honoree Sarah Clynes in 2009.
Venturella's teams also excelled in the classroom, with eight individuals earning UIC Academic Athletes of the Year honors and the top female sport grade point average at UIC in 2016.
Before arriving at UIC, the former catcher spent six seasons as the associate head coach at the University of Iowa under head coach Gayle Blevins. In that role, she served as the recruiting coordinator and hitting coach, while also mentoring the team's catchers. During her tenure in Iowa City, Venturella assisted the Hawkeyes to a record of 251-116 (.684), including five NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2003, Iowa claimed both the Big Ten regular season and tournament title.
Prior to her time in Iowa City, she served as an assistant coach at Northern Illinois University under Donna Martin during the 1997 season. Following her stint with the Huskies, Venturella spent the next five years training for the USA National Team, while working as a technical representative for Louisville Slugger. Venturella also served as a personal instructor, in addition to being a motivational speaker.
She graduated with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology with an emphasis in physical education and health from Indiana in 1996. Venturella is pursuing a master's degree in coaching and athletic administration from Concordia University-Irvine.
Venturella starts at WashU on August 1.