THURSDAY, JUNE 23, 2011
Lehotak steps down as head softball coach at JU
The most successful coach in JU softball history will attempt to work her magic with a new opportunity as Amanda Lehotak stepped down as head coach to take the top position at UT-San Antonio, it was announced today.
Lehotak, who spent the last six seasons at JU, becomes the fourth head coach in Roadrunners history following her successful 2011 run with the Dolphins. Assistant coach Ali Higgs will serve as interim head coach during the coaching search.
“I have really enjoyed my time at JU,” said Lehotak. “I want to thank Alan Verlander for taking a chance on a young coach and giving me the opportunity to run my own program. I especially want to thank our kids for their hard work on and off the field.
“My staff and I always wanted to put a product on the field that everyone could be proud of watching and I know we accomplished it. Our goal as a program was to put JU softball on the map and we did that. I also want to thank all of the JU alumni for their love and support these last few seasons. Overall, I wish JU nothing but the best.”
After one year as an assistant, the Nebraska native posted 137 wins in five years as head coach, including a school-best 44 victories in 2011 to help JU take both A-Sun titles (regular season & tournament) and appear in the program’s first NCAA Tournament.
For her efforts, she was named A-Sun “Coach of the Year”, while seven other players earned all-conference honors. The Dolphins also received votes in the NFCA/USA Today and Ultimate Collegiate Softball polls – a feat for the second straight season.
As a team in 2011, the Dolphins broke team records for home runs (41), ERA (1.48) and shutouts (19) in 2011. The ERA for the pitching staff also ranked as high as third nationally before the start of the NCAA Tournament.
Overall, Lehotak helped produced 17 all-conference selections (a school record) and three Louisville Slugger/NFCA all-region selections.
"What Amanda has accomplished at JU is what I truly expected her to do," said JU director of athletics Alan Verlander. "She is a young star in the business and I will miss working with her both professionally and personally. I'm happy for her and we will always be good friends."
Lehotak began at JU as an assistant in 2006 before taking over the program in 2007. She guided the Dolphins through two of the most daunting schedules in school history in the last four seasons - playing top programs like Michigan, Florida, Notre Dame, Florida State, Minnesota and North Carolina. Despite a 15-win total in 2007, the Dolphins would increase their win total each season en route to the 40-victory plateau in 2011.
Outside of competition, Lehotak oversaw improvements to the JU Softball Complex, which included a new grandstand to double the seating capacity from 500 to 1,000, along with a new press box.
The Dolphins did damage in the classroom as well by ranking 12th on the NFCA Academic list for the 2009-10 school year with a 3.475 GPA. In all, JU had 18 of its 19 players finish the academic year with a 3.0 GPA or better with seven players making the Dean’s List and three receiving President’s List accolades.
"We have begun a nationwide search to find Amanda's replacement and to be honest, the last 48 hours have been overwhelming with the interest," said Verlander. "I want to thank Ali for serving as the interim as she has invested a lot into this program as well. With all our softball success, our great players, our facilities, our location, our athletic culture of winning championships and our fine university, I feel confident we will find the next superstar coach in this sport."