Head coach Holly Aprile recently completed her first season at the helm of the University of Louisville softball team.
Aprile’s Cardinals enjoyed a successful in the 2019 campaign which was highlighted by an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and a regional final appearance. The team amassed a 35-23 overall record and a 12-12 mark in ACC play for a third place finish in the league’s Atlantic Division and fifth in the overall conference standings. Louisville's 35 wins marked the most victories in a season since 2016 when the Cards posted a 35-17 record.
In the midst of a challenging schedule, the Cards collected six wins against teams ranked in the top 25 including a pair of contests against then-No. 3/3 Florida State. With the series win, Louisville became the first ACC team to claim a series against the Seminoles since 2012. Other ranked wins included No. 15/17 Michigan, No. 24/19 Virginia Tech, No. 24/23 Kentucky and No. 18/17 Northwestern.
In addition to Louisville’s quality wins on the field, junior Celene Funke belted out an NCAA-best 13 in the season, also setting a school record in the single-season category. She paced the Cardinals who led the nation in triples per game with 31 in 58 games (1.87) and tied UofL’s single-season team mark.
The 2019 squad also set a school record with 106 stolen bases, surpassing the previous record of 68. Redshirt senior Sidney Melton also established a new school mark with 35 on the season, Funke was right behind her with 29.”
Several players also picked up individual honors at the end of the season. Melton earned her second straight all-ACC nod while Charley Butler and Rebecca Chung were selected to the all-freshmen team. Senior Megan Hensley was named to the NFCA All-Southeast Region first team, becoming the first player in program history to be named to the first team since the Cardinals moved into the region.
Aprile’s squad also turned in impressive results in the classroom as the team produced a combined 3.157 grade point average for the 2018-19 season. Five student-athletes were named to the All-ACC Academic Team, tied for the most among league schools. Additionally, Funke was named to the Google Cloud Academic All-America team for the second straight year. Funke and Melton were also Google Cloud Academic All-District selections.
On July 16, 2018, Aprile was named the head softball coach at the University of Louisville. She became just the second head coach in the history of UofL softball following the retirement of Sandy Pearsall who started the program in 2000.
“We are excited to welcome Holly Aprile to the Louisville family as our new softball coach,” said UofL Vice President/Director of Athletics Vince Tyra upon her hiring. “Over the last 19 years, our program has grown and achieved great success and I am confident that Holly will take us to the next level. She is well-respected in the softball community as a talented coach with tremendous integrity and a strong work ethic. She has a passion for developing student-athletes on and off the field and we look forward to having her lead our program.”
Aprile came to Louisville from the University of Pittsburgh, where she spent 10 seasons (2009-18) as the Panthers’ head coach and five years (2004-08) as an assistant. This past season, she earned ACC Coach of the Year honors after leading Pitt to the 2018 ACC Coastal Division title and a runner-up finish in the conference tournament where it fell in the championship game to eventual national champion Florida State.
Pittsburgh finished the 2018 campaign with a 33-18-1 overall record, marking the program’s third 30-win season in four years. The Coastal Division champions notched a program-best 16-6 mark in ACC play while winning seven of their eight conference series. During the regular season, the Panthers defeated then-No. 9/13 Florida State 1-0 in Tallahassee, halting the Seminoles’ 36-game ACC win streak and marking Pitt’s first victory over the perennial conference power.
Under Aprile’s direction, Pitt achieved several milestones while making the transition from the BIG EAST Conference to the ACC. In 2015, she guided her team to the championship game of the ACC Tournament for the first time in school history. The Panthers went on to earn their first NCAA bid and advanced to the regional finals. After finishing the season with a program-best 37 wins, Aprile and her assistants garnered National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Mid-Atlantic Region Coaching Staff of the Year honors.
While at the helm, Aprile guided Pittsburgh to 271 wins and oversaw 12 NFCA All-Region selections and 13 All-ACC selections, with eight players earning ACC All-Tournament nods. Her teams and players have put up impressive numbers, leading the ACC in fielding percentage (.975) in 2017 and home runs (75), slugging percentage (.552) and doubles (82) in 2016. In the past four seasons, her teams have continually set school records in wins, hits, batting average, RBI, home runs, runs scored and shutouts.
Aprile’s student-athletes have also been successful in the classroom with 19 NFCA Scholar-Athlete selections and 10 ACC All-Academic honorees. Additionally, her teams achieved perfect scores in the NCAA Public Recognition Awards for Academic Progress Rates in 2017 and 2018.
Before being named the Panthers’ head coach in July 2008, she served as an assistant coach at Pitt for five years, helping the program produce its first winning season in school history and earn its first BIG EAST Conference tournament berth.
Prior to her arrival in Pittsburgh, Aprile was an assistant coach at South Carolina, where she was the recruiting coordinator and assisted in the development of the team’s offense while working specifically with the pitchers and outfielders. During her nine-year stint in Columbia, she helped direct the Gamecocks to five Southeastern Conference titles, five NCAA Regional appearances and a Women’s College World Series appearance in 1997.
Aprile began her coaching career at Eastern Illinois, where she served as a graduate assistant coach for two seasons working primarily with the pitchers and the outfielders.
As a player, Aprile built an impressive resume at the University of Massachusetts, where she was a four-year all-Atlantic 10 selection. As a senior, she was the Most Valuable Player for the Minutewomen softball team that finished third in the 1992 Women’s College World Series and was selected to the WCWS All-Tournament team. That same year, she earned third-team All-America honors. Aprile produced stellar results both as a pitcher and an outfielder, earning Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year (1989), Player of Year (1990 and 1991) and Pitcher of the Year (1992).
Aprile was a participant on USA Softball’s national team for seven years (1993-99). During that time, she helped Team USA to gold medals in the Pan-American Qualifiers in 1994 and 1997 and the South Pacific Classic in 1998.
The Afton, N.Y., native earned her bachelor’s in sports management from UMass in 1992 and received her master’s degree in political science from Eastern Illinois in 1995.