University at Buffalo

University at Buffalo Division of Athletics
102 Alumni Arena Buffalo, NY 14260
Division 1 New York Northeast
Public Large Competitive team

Coaches

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Mike Ruechel

Mike Ruechel is in his third season overall at Buffalo and was named head coach of the UB softball program on May 2, 2018.


"We're happy with the progress of the softball program under Mike's leadership and we believe that this is the best decision to continue that upward trend," said Director of Athletics Mark Alnutt. "I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Mike and his staff and the direction that the program is going."


UB improved in several offensive categories once again in 2019 as the Bulls offense has notched 34 home runs, up from 29 in 2018, smacked 59 doubles, up from 48 a season ago and has shown discipline at the plate, drawing 158 walks on the year. Under Ruechel's tutelage, the Bulls have also raised the team on base percentage to .351.


Under Ruechel's watchful eye, sophomore outfielder Anna Aguon continued to excel as she was named first team All-MAC after leading the Bulls in batting average (.382), doubles (13) and hits (52), runs scored (25), slugging percentage (.603) and on base percentage (.444). Jenelle Martinez joined Aguon on the All-MAC first team after another solid season in which she finished with a .317 batting average to go along with four home runs, a team-best 20 RBI and 20 runs scored. Ruechel was also instrumental in the development of freshman Alexis Matheney who became the fifth straight Bull to be named to the All-Freshman team after compiling a .248 batting average to go with a team best seven home runs, eight doubles, a team-best 20 RBI and 25 runs scored.


Ruechel spent the 2018 season as the Bulls top assistant coach and hitting coach as UB was able to improve in almost every category offensively as a team. Ruechel helped the UB offense nearly triple their home run output from the 2017 season as the powerful Bulls lineup notched 29 home runs while also raising the team batting average from .236 in 2017 to .263 last season. Under Ruechel’s watchful eye, the Bulls scored nearly 50 more runs this season while also raising the team slugging percentage to .405 and the team on base percentage to .348.


With Ruechel’s help last season, freshman outfielder Anna Aguon was able to produce a huge season at the dish for the Bulls and earned First Team All-MAC honors for her efforts. The Vancouver, WA native posted a .359 batting average to go along with a team-best seven home runs, 36 runs scored and 35 RBI while leading the squad with a .633 slugging percentage and a .451 on base percentage. Ruechel also helped Jenelle Martinez have a career year at the dish as she posted a team-best .364 batting average to go along with six homers, a team-high 37 RBI and 19 runs scored while earning Second Team All-MAC honors.


Prior to Buffalo, Ruechel spent two seasons at Indiana Wesleyan University as assistant coach and hitting coach for the program. He helped the Wildcats earn their first national tournament berth in school history while also posting a program record for wins. Over his two seasons, the Wildcats posted 120 home runs and 184 doubles after only recording five home runs and 99 doubles in the previous two seasons before his arrival.


Ruechel has also spent time as the hitting coach for the Lake Erie Crushers, Southeastern Illinois College and Judson University.


Prior to working in the collegiate ranks, Ruechel spent 22 seasons working in the Oconto School District in his home state of Wisconsin. As the head coach of the varsity softball program, he revamped a failing program that won just four games prior to his arrival and helped them win a Regional Championship within two seasons. He led the squad to two regional championship games and a sectional final while compiling a 63-27 record across four seasons.


Ruechel and his wife, Debbie, have two children, Natalie and Evan.

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Jody Hennigar

Jody Hennigar is entering his second season as pitching coach for the UB softball program during the 2019-20 campaign. Hennigar brings over 45 years of playing and coaching experience to UB, having been a member of the Canadian National Men's Fastpitch Team for over a decade.


"I'm very happy to have welcome coach Hennigar to our staff," said interim head coach Mike Ruechel. "He has competed at the highest level and is internationally recognized. His knowledge of the game will help elevate our team to the next level."


Under Hennigar's guidance the Bulls pitching staff was able to lower its ERA to 4.92 in 2019, down a full two runs from 2018. Under his watchful eye, Ally Power climbed up the UB record books as the senior finished her career ranked second in program history in games started (81), third in career appearances (110), fourth in innings pitched (490.0) and ranks fifth in strikeouts (348) while compiling a 4.32 career ERA. Power finished her senior campaign with a 3.99 ERA, the second-best mark of her four year career. Senior Lace Smith also saw improement on the mound as she lowered her ERA to 5.89 in 2019, while recording five wins and a career-best six complete games.


Hennigar came to Buffalo after spending tjhe 2017 season as the pitching coach for Jacksonville University where he helped the Dolphins staff post a 2.80 team ERA with 176 strikeouts and 27 victories in the circle. He helped sophomore Alyssa Bilodeau post a career year as she went 16-13 with a 2.32 ERA and 115 strikeouts across 190.0 innings of work.


Before Jacksonville, he was the head coach of the Tampa Mustangs 14U travel team from 2012-2016. Under his leadership, the squad has advanced to two ASA Championships. He also assisted at nearby Saint Leo University with pitching clinics, and has been involved in pitching and hitting workshops with the local Dixie Softball Chapter for the past 10 years. Since 2003, he has served as an individual instructor for aspiring softball players, producing over 30 NCAA Division I athletes, and many more at lower levels.


Prior to his time with the Mustangs, Hennigar served as the head coach of the Florida Ultimate Gold showcase team from 2007-2012, leading the group to three ASA National Championship appearances. He served as a volunteer coach for the Howard University Bison softball team in 2005.


As an instructor, he has long since been involved in international softball clinics, facilitating pitching workshops in the United States, Canada, Guatemala, South Africa, and The Philippines, among other countries.


He served on the coaching staff of the 1985 New Zealand Boy's 18U National Championship team.


Hennigar's illustrious playing career has included medal-winning performances in both the United States and his home country of Canada.


His first gold medal came in 1980, winning a Canadian National Championship Gold Medal while competing on the Olympic Bingo Midget Fastpitch Team of Halifax, Nova Scotia.


As a member of the Canadian National Men's Fastpitch Team from 1989-2002, Hennigar earned five medals, winning top honors at the ISF World Championships in 1992, silver in 1996, and bronze in 2000. He won a pair of gold medals with the squad at the Pan American games, taking home top honors in 1995 and 1999.


His time with the Canadian National Team saw him win two gold, four silver, and three bronze medals at the Canadian National Championships between 1986-2005. During that time, he was a six-time All-Canadian Team selection, winning the MVP Player and MVP Pitcher awards twice each.


Hennigar was a six-time selection for the International Softball Congress All-World Team, with his Canadian squad winning ISC World Championships in 1987, 1997, and 1999.


He also competed in 17 National Fastpitch Championships for the Amateur Softball Association, winning four silver and three bronze medals. He is a six-time ASA All-American Selection, and has been once named the ASA MVP, and twice the ASA MVP Pitcher.


Hennigar's storied career on the diamond has led to his induction into several distinguished softball circles. He was placed in the Canadian National Softball Hall of Fame in 2009, and the Nova Scotia Softball and Sports Hall of Fames in 2010. Also in 2010, he was enshrined in the ASA Softball Hall of Fame, making it into the ISC Hall in 2011. Finally, he was placed in the Highland Park Softball Association Hall of Fame in 2012.


Hennigar attended Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI from 1984-85, and Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, IA from 1987-88.

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Riley Johnson

Riley Johnson begins her first season as assistant coach for the Buffalo softball program. Most recently, Johnson served as the head coach at Le Moyne College for the 2018 season, where she extended the program's streak of winning seasons to six, posting a 21-19 record and a 13-9 record in the Northeast 10 Conference.


A native of Greece, New York, Johnson came to Le Moyne after serving two seasons as an assistant coach at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, where she was responsible for assisting the head coach with all aspects of the program including training, competition, travel arrangements, scheduling, camps and fundraising. After going 25-23 with a 13-9 record in the GLIAC in 2017, the Chargers went 25-16, including a 14-8 record in Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) play, en route to capturing their first G-MAC Championship and first berth in the NCAA Midwest Regional since 1991.


Before her hiring at Hillsdale, Johnson was the assistant director of baseball operations and director of social and digital media at Ninth Inning Baseball in Chamblee, Georgia. In these roles, she worked with the 6U, 8U, 10U and 12U age groups, while also assisting in the implementation of marking and social media plans for the organization.


Johnson graduated magna cum laude in three years from Syracuse University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Rhetorical Studies. The following year, she received a master’s in Sport Venue and Event Management from Syracuse. She was a member of the National Society of College Scholars, part of Lambda Pi Eta-National Honor Society


Johnson appeared in 71 games for the Orange and drew 51 starting assignments. She recorded 20 runs batted in, scored 13 runs and posted a .260 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). For her efforts in the classroom, Johnson was selected to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) All-Academic Team. As a graduate student, Johnson assisted the coaching staff in conducting practices and preparing team on game days, while also organizing scouting reports and managing student-athlete schedules and prospective student-athlete database.


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