Courtesy of Malone Sports Information
CANTON -- Malone University Athletic Director Charlie Grimes announced today that former Pioneer softball standout Kathryn Bzdafka has been hired as the institution's new full-time softball head coach.
Bzdafka, a four-year starter for the Pioneers from 2005-2008, returns to her alma mater after most recently serving as an assistant softball coach at Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio for the past two years. Bzdafka was NDC's hitting and outfield coach during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, helping guide the NCAA Division II Falcons to a Mountain East Conference Tournament Championship in 2015. She worked with numerous All-Conference players at Notre Dame, including centerfielder Kelsey Coleman, who was named to the 2015 NCAA Division II All-America Team in addition to being tabbed as the 2015 Division II Atlantic Region Player of the Year.
Prior to joining the NDC coaching staff, Bzdafka served as Fairview High School's varsity head softball coach from 2010-2013 and as Elyria Catholic High School's pitching instructor from 2009-2011. Since 2011, she has also been a head coach with Cleveland RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner-cities), a community program funded by the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Baseball Federation that gives inner-city high school students an opportunity to compete at a high level of softball and gain national exposure.
Bzdafka, a 2004 graduate of Avon Lake High School, was a three-time All-AMC (American Mideast Conference) selection at the shortstop and pitcher positions for the Pioneers. She garnered NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) All-America Honorable Mention accolades following the 2006 season after compiling a .336 batting average with 14 doubles, 21 RBI's and a .589 slugging percentage. Over her four years in a Pioneer uniform, Bzdafka posted a .310 career batting average with 27 doubles, seven homers and 47 RBI's. She also tossed a total of 237 innings in the circle with 17 complete games and a career 4.94 earned run average.
Bzdafka graduated from Malone in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in Integrated Language Arts and then earned a master's degree from Notre Dame in 2015. While completing her M. Ed., Bzdafka created a technology leadership program designed to develop and empower the millennial generation of softball players.
"I would like to thank President King, Charlie Grimes, the hiring committee, and the entire Pioneer community as I am both honored and humbled to continue my coaching career at Malone University," said Bzdafka. "I have experienced first-hand how special Malone is and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to give back to the school that has given me so much spiritually, academically, and athletically. I have high expectations for the softball program and am excited to get started."
Grimes was very pleased to add Bzdafka to the Pioneer Athletics staff. "We are excited to welcome Kathryn back to Malone," commented Grimes. "She has gained excellent Division II coaching experience since she graduated, and brings a deep faith and love for Malone to our staff. Her published work in leadership development is creative and innovative, and I look forward to seeing her implement her program with our student-athletes. She brings excellent Ohio contacts to us in recruiting, and will immediately make a big impact on our students and department."
The Pioneers are tentatively scheduled to open their 2016 season in early March with a trip to Tennessee and Georgia.