Western Kentucky University

Western Kentucky Athletics Dept
E.A. Diddle Arena -1605 Avenue of Champions Bowling Green, KY 42101
Division 1 Kentucky Midwest
Public Large National competitor

Coaches

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Amy Tudor

Former Lady Topper Amy Tudor concluded her fourth season as head coach of the WKU softball team in the 2017 season.Tudor was named head coach at her alma mater in August 2013, returning to The Hill with nine years of head coaching experience, including stops at IPFW, Belmont and Ohio Wesleyan.


At WKU, Tudor holds an 115-97-1 mark, moving her Division I coaching record to 289-272-2 in 11 years and career record to 334-305-2 in 13 seasons. Tudor has three championship titles under her belt, including a regular-season and tournament crown in WKU’s first year in Conference USA (2015).


Student-athletes excel under Tudor’s tutelage, as she has coached an NFCA All-American, six NFCA All-Region selections, two conference tournament MVPs, two conference Pitchers of the Year, a league Freshman of the Year and 31 Division I All-Conference selections, including 11 in her four seasons on The Hill. She has also helped two Lady Toppers to professional softball careers with Miranda Kramer and Olivia Watkins playing in the National Pro Fastpitch league while Larissa Franklin played internationally during and after her career with the Canadian National Team.


In 2016, Tudor achieved the 300-win milestone in WKU’s 5-4 victory against Middle Tennessee at the WKU Softball Complex. The squad finished 17-30 on the season and saw senior Brooke Holloway honored with Second-Team All-Conference USA recognition. Freshman Bryce Holmgren also landed a spot on the league’s all freshman list.


The 2015 season brought a new level of success for the Lady Topper program, earning the best winning percentage in school history at .720 with a 36-14 overall mark and a C-USA Regular-Season Championship with a 16-5 record. WKU went on to sweep the field at the C-USA Championship to garner its first-ever automatic bid to the NCAA Championship field.


WKU overcame the bumps in the road, defeating three nationally-ranked teams during the 2015 campaign in No. 19 Nebraska, No. 16 Georgia and No. 14 Tennessee, a Women’s College World Series participant. The win over the Bulldogs came in the program’s longest game in school history, as it took 14 innings to defeat Georgia in NCAA Regional action.


Highlighting 2015 was Kramer, WKU’s first-ever NFCA First-Team All-American. Working with the pitchers and catchers, Tudor guided Kramer’s final season in the circle to one of the best individual campaigns by any student-athlete at WKU. Kramer led the nation in strikeouts (439), strikeouts per seven innings (12.6) and hits allowed per seven innings (2.88) while she ranked second in shutouts (13) and sixth in ERA (1.24). A transfer coming into the year, Kramer took C-USA by storm, being named Pitcher of the Week a record-setting eight times before the league coaches named her Pitcher and Newcomer of the Year. The Iowa native threw three no-hitters plus the first perfect game in WKU history, as the Lady Topper pitching staff has six no-hit outings since Tudor arrived in Bowling Green.


Along with Kramer, Franklin was named All-Conference First-Team and NFCA All-Region while Dani Pugh was voted to the C-USA second team. Carleigh Chaumont found herself with a spot on the C-USA All-Freshman Team while Chaumont, Kramer and Kathryn Downing earned C-USA All-Tournament Team accolades with Kramer being named MVP.


In her first season with WKU, Tudor led the Lady Toppers to a 33-24-1 record overall and 11-10 mark in Sun Belt Conference action, finishing fourth in WKU’s last year in the league. The Lady Toppers played a tough slate in 2014, securing wins over Southeastern Conference foes Ole Miss and No. 2 Tennessee. The win over the Lady Vols in Knoxville not only was the highest-ranked opponent defeated for WKU, but also broke UT’s 121-game winning streak of regular-season, non-conference home games, as UT’s last loss came in 2003.


At the season’s end, five Lady Toppers were named to the All-Sun Belt Conference team in first-team selections Preslie Cruce, Kelsie Mattox and Watkins while Emily Rousseau and Amanda Thomas were named to the second team. Watkins finished a special season and career at WKU, as she led the nation in steals with almost one stolen base per game and finished 15th in the nation with a .442 batting average while she became the first player in program history to play professionally after signing with the Akron Racers.


In 2010, Tudor took over the IPFW program, inheriting a team with a 14-24 record and ranked 265 in the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) in 2009. Since then, she improved the RPI to 203 (2010), 156 (2011), 78 (2012) and 89 (2013). Winning the league tournament in 2013 and making the program’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the Mastodons were also regular-season runner-up in 2010 and 2012 and tournament runner-up in 2012. In her four years at IPFW, Tudor compiled a 136-64 record with a .680 winning percentage.


During her career in Fort Wayne, Tudor coached 17 All-Conference honorees, 13 All-Summit League Tournament members, two NFCA All-Region picks, four Capital One Academic All-District selections and a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. She also had players chosen as the league tournament Most Valuable Player, Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year.


Before going to IPFW, Tudor was the head coach at Belmont University where she helped lead the program to 36 wins, the fifth most in program history, and 11 Atlantic Sun victories, most by a single coach since Belmont joined the league in 2001. In her last season, Tudor helped led the Bruins to an 8-5 record to open the season, including a five-game win streak, the school’s longest winning streak since 1999.


Prior to arriving at Belmont, Tudor was the head coach at Division III Ohio Wesleyan University, where she helped guide the Battling Bishops to the regular-season North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) title in her first season. She helped develop the school’s first-ever Pitcher of the Year in 2005 and Player of the Year in 2006, as the squad finished as the conference’s tournament runner-up in each of her two seasons. Over her two seasons in Delaware, Ohio, she compiled a 45-33 record.


Before Ohio Wesleyan, Tudor was a graduate assistant coach at North Alabama while earning a Master of Arts degree in counseling.


Tudor is a 2002 graduate of WKU with a degree in history and social studies and minor in geography, where she was a three-year team captain, helping the program get off the ground as a member of the school’s inaugural softball squad. A collegiate catcher, she holds the school record by throwing out 23 runners attempting to steal in 2002 and is fourth all-time in runners thrown out stealing with 28.


In addition to her prowess on the field, she was equally as strong off of the field, where she was named an All-American Scholar, recipient of the Commissioner’s List Award, a member of the Golden Key Honor Society and Kappa Delta Pi, and was a six-time member of the Dean’s List at WKU.


Tudor spent one season at Motlow State Community College before her arrival at WKU. A member of the softball and basketball team, she hit .370 with 37 RBI, 12 doubles, two home runs and had five stolen bases while not committing an error behind the plate.


Originally from Petersburg, Tenn., Tudor attended Cornersville High School where she graduated as salutatorian. Tudor finished her high school playing career as the all-time leading scorer and assist leader in basketball and was an All-State and All-Mid State selection in softball. In 1998, the high school retired her No. 9 jersey.

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Email coach

Kayla Bixel

WKU Softball head coach Amy Tudor announced the promotion of Kayla Bixel from the Hilltoppers’ Director of Operations into an assistant coach for the program in August of 2016. Bixel joined the Hilltopper family prior to the 2015-16 campaign.


Bixel, a native of Bremen, Indiana, implemented the WKU Softball Pinch Hitter’s Club in her first year on The Hill. The club is a donor program for fans to support the WKU Softball team and receive benefits in return. Additionally, Bixel oversaw the Hilltoppers’ efforts in the classroom where the team combined for a spring GPA of 3.52, assisted with recruit visits and also held in-game and office responsibilities.


In 2010, Bixel earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from IPFW and went on to teach for five years in the East Allen County School District in New Haven, Indiana. In addition to teaching, Bixel worked to receive a Master’s degree in education from Ball State University. An assistant girls’ basketball coach at Leo High School for six seasons, Bixel has just completed her Master’s degree in intercollegiate athletic administration from WKU in January 2017.


A versatile athlete, Bixel was a three-sport competitor at the Bremen High School, earning 10 varsity letters across volleyball, basketball and softball. Bixel went on to play collegiate softball at Grace College following high school.


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