The first head coach of the Georgia Gwinnett College softball program, Kat Ihlenburg has developed the Grizzlies into a championship squad built upon toughness, character and a devotion to its community.
Ihlenburg led the program to its first NAIA World Series appearance in 2018 in just its sixth season. She has led the Grizzlies to three Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) tournament championships, four trips to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national tournament, and recognition as the NAIA Champions of Character team award winner. She has totaled a 286-102-2 (.736) record and recorded back-to-back 50-win seasons in 2018 and 2017.
Ihlenburg was named A.I.I. Coach of the Year in 2019, 2018 and 2017 after sharing the honor during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. She has led the Grizzlies to conference championships in 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2015 and five national tournament bids (2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015).
Ihlenburg and the coaching staff received the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's Regional Coaching Staff of the Year award for the 2019 season.
The 2019 season featured the program's deepest postseason run with a semifinal appearance at the World Series. The Grizzlies knocked off No. 2 Marian (Ind.) during the World Series run, marking the highest ranked opponent the program has defeated. Other wins against Vanguard (Calif.) and Oregon Tech were recorded at the World Series in Springfield, Mo. Ihlenburg guided the Grizzlies to 45 victories, sweep the Lawrenceville Bracket of the NAIA Opening Round and the A.I.I. title. Aubree Cox earned the A.I.I. Player of the Year award and Taylor Hansis garnered the league's Pitcher of the Year award for the third consecutive season. RaeQuinn Rossetti, Piper Wagner joined Cox and Hansis as NAIA All-Americans following the season.
In 2018, she guided the Grizzlies to their first No. 1 national ranking and a school-record 53 victories. The new heights for the program also featured a NAIA World Series appearance -- a first for the program. GGC defeated Oregon Tech in the final game of the Lawrenceville Bracket of the NAIA Opening Round. The Grizzlies also defeated Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) during its first game at the World Series. Ihlenburg received the A.I.I. Coach of the Year award and led the program to the conference title.
The 2017 squad set a program record with a 50-9-1 record. GGC hosted the opening round of the NAIA national tournament. Niki Cook captured first team All-America honors by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and the NAIA.
Georgia Gwinnett finished the 2016 campaign with 44 wins. The centralized theme of continuity was an ever-present factor throughout the season as the Grizzlies continued to build their program and establish their standard of achieving excellence for years to come.
The 2015 GGC squad posted a 37-16 record under Ihlenburg and was marked by a dominating performance at home at the Grizzly Softball Complex. The Grizzlies went 26-2 in Lawrenceville on the season, winning their first 22 consecutive home games to start the year. Senior infielder Cassidy Littlefield cemented herself as one of the top players in the country, earning her second straight NAIA first team All-American nod and being named unanimous A.I.I. Player of the Year.
The 2014 season, GGC’s first as a fully-eligible NAIA member, saw Ihlenburg lay a championship foundation for her program by guiding Georgia Gwinnett to an outstanding 39-10-1 record. The Grizzlies earned votes for the first time in the Top 25 Coaches’ Poll, claimed their first postseason victory, and boasted four all-conference selections, including A.I.I. Co-Player of the Year Cassidy Littlefield.
Ihlenburg brought eight years of previous collegiate softball coaching experience to GGC.
She spent seven years as an assistant at the College of Charleston (S.C.) to then-head coach Shelly Hoerner, for whom she played collegiately. During Ihlenburg’s time with the Cougars, 26 players were selected as all-conference members for the Southern Conference. Two athletes were named conference Player of the Year and one Pitcher of the Year, while three players were named to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-Region team.
Prior to her time in Charleston, Ihlenburg spent one season on the staff at Reinhardt University in Waleska, Ga.
As a player, Ihlenburg caught and played outfield for Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla. She helped guide the Buccaneers to the 2002 Division II College World Series and set a new school single-season wins record. She graduated from Barry in 2004 with a bachelor of arts in public relations.
Coach Kat FamilyIhlenburg serves as a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) and has spent multiple seasons coaching abroad- in Belgium, Italy, the Czech Republic and the Dominican Republic- for USA Athletes International and American International Sports Teams. She also has directed and been an instructor for softball camps at Georgia Gwinnett College, Georgia Tech, the College of Charleston, the University of Alabama, North Carolina State University, Reinhardt University, Tennessee Tech and the University of Tennessee. The Grizzly Softball Complex routinely plays host to elite showcases and other prospect events with organizations such as On Deck Softball, Champions Fastpitch Academy and College Coaches Skills Camp thanks in large part to Ihlenburg’s efforts.
Ihlenburg grew up in Nashville, Tenn., and graduated from Father Ryan High School. She and her husband, Mark, have two children, Elizabeth and Reid, and reside in Gwinnett County.