Courtney Deifel is the head coach of the University of Arkansas softball program. Deifel, who led Maryland to a 16-game improvement in her first season as a head coach in 2015, is the fourth head coach in Arkansas’ program history.
“Courtney’s coaching pedigree, her success as a student-athlete and her ability to transform and cultivate a winning culture as a head coach are qualities we are looking to instill in our program. She’s a proven winner and competitor and that was on full display last year during her team’s remarkable turnaround. I was extremely impressed with her competitiveness and desire to lead our program against the best softball programs in the country. Courtney is a rising star and we are happy to have her leading the Arkansas softball program.” - Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long
During her playing and coaching careers, Deifel has advanced to 11 NCAA Tournaments including a four-year run to the Women’s College World Series (WCWS) as an All-American catcher at California that was highlighted by winning the 2002 national title. The Bears also finished second (2003), fifth (2001) and seventh (2000) at the WCWS over her four-year run. Her postseason successes also feature a pair of Super Regionals as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma and five NCAA Regionals as an assistant at Maryland and Louisville.
As a first-year head coach, Deifel ushered in a culture of change for Maryland in 2015. Along with the program’s 16-game improvement from the previous season, the Terrapins’ offense show tremendous growth. Maryland finished 27th in the NCAA with 6.28 runs per game behind 339 runs scored, up more than 150 runs from 2014. Deifel also led her team to a .309 batting average, a 40-point jump from 2014 which also ranked 57th in the NCAA.
Individually, Deifel guided three players to all-conference accolades and a pair of NFCA all-region honors. Lindsey Schmeister was an All-Big Ten first team performer while Shannon Bustillos and Erin Pronobis landed on the All-Big Ten second team. Probonis and Corey Schwartz were also named to the NFCA All-Midwest Region Third Team. Under Deifel’s watch, the trio helped Maryland to single-season school records in doubles, home runs, RBI and walks.
Prior to taking the head job at Maryland, Deifel spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Louisville in which she helped the Cardinals to four NCAA appearances, the 2014 American Athletic Conference Tournament title and an overall record of 176-60 (.746). Louisville averaged 44 wins in that time with a program-record 55 wins in 2012. Her student-athletes at Louisville racked up four NFCA All-America certificates and 29 all-conference selections.
Deifel played in 285 games in her career at California, missing just three games behind the plate over her four years. As a four-year starter behind the plate, she was a 2003 All-American, two-time All-Pac 10 selection and caught seven no-hitters. She is still the program’s career leader with 1,969 putouts.
Aside from her accomplishments in collegiate softball, Deifel had a successful professional career following her days at Cal. In 2004, she helped the NY/NJ Juggernaut to the National Professional Fastpitch (NPF) league title. Deifel also spent three years with LeoPalac21 in Japan that resulted in a runner-up showing and a pair of third-place finishes.
Yolanda McRae Assistant Coach
Yolanda McRae is the Razorback offensive coach. She was part of Deifel’s coaching staff at Maryland that helped orchestrate a 16-game improvement during the 2015 season. Along with her time at Maryland, the Dublin, Ga., native, has previous experience at Georgia, Georgia Tech and Virginia.
Along with Maryland’s win-loss improvement in 2015, McRae helped the Terrapins’ offense take tremendous strides at the plate. The Terrapins hit .309 under McRae’s watch, a 40-point improvement from 2014, to go along with a jump from 20 to a program-record 69 home runs in 2015. With 339 runs, the team’s scoring was up more than 150 runs from the previous year. Maryland finished the season fourth nationally in doubles and 27th in scoring and home runs. She helped Maryland to single-season team records in doubles, RBI and walks. Individually, McRae coached three All-Big Ten performers.
McRae is no stranger to success in the Southeastern Conference as a former coach and student-athlete at Georgia. She spent the 2006 and 2014 seasons as a volunteer assistant at Georgia. During their 2006 season, the Bulldogs won the SEC East title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. In her second coaching stint in Athens, McRae helped Georgia to the 2014 SEC Tournament title and an appearance in the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament. McRae was an outfielder for the Bulldogs in 2003 and was part of the program’s first-ever SEC regular-season title.
She spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons as an assistant coach at Virginia in which she guided the Cavaliers to increased offensive production. Compared to the season before McRae’s arrival, the UVA offense hit 17 more home runs—up to 29 from 12—during the 2012 campaign. McRae also coached Giannina Cipiolloni, the Cavaliers’ all-time leader in stolen bases. Under McRae’s watch, she registered 63 of her 89 career stolen bases.
McRae had two previous seasons at Maryland in 2010 and 2011 as an assistant coach. In that two-year span, Maryland tallied a 74-43 record with two appearances in the NCAA Tournament. During the 2011 season, the Terrapins posted the second-highest win total in program history with a 40-19 record which included a third-place finish in the ACC with a 12-7 mark. That same season, McRae helped lead four players to All-ACC accolades
In her first role as an assistant coach, McRae spent three seasons (2007-09) at Georgia Tech where she helped lead the program to a three-year record of 132-62 (.680) and 216 home runs during her time in Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets hit a nation-leading 96 home runs in 2007 which, at the time, stood as the No. 9 single-season tally in NCAA history. Georgia Tech was an NCAA Tournament selection in all three years with McRae including a Super Regionals appearance in 2009.
McRae also coached a pair of Olympians at Georgia Tech with Caitlin Lever and Jennifer Yee representing their native Canada at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Yee led the Canadian National Team in batting average and posted the fifth-best overall batting average (.348) during the Olympic competition.
Matt Meuchel Assistant Coach
Meuchel comes to Fayetteville on the heels of an eight-year run as the head coach for the Nevada softball program. With two NCAA Tournament appearances at Nevada, he also has previous coaching experience at Arizona State, McNeese State and Oklahoma State.
During his eight-season tenure as Nevada’s head coach, Meuchel guided his team to 196 victories. In 2016, the Wolf Pack posted a 32-15 overall record with a 10-10 mark in the Mountain West Conference. It was the program’s best season since joining the conference in 2013. Meuchel saw five of his student-athlete named to the 2016 All-Mountain West Conference Team including a pair of first-team selections.
After four years as an assistant coach for Nevada and two seasons with Oklahoma State, Meuchel returned to Reno as head coach in 2009 and responded by leading the team to a 40-19 record and an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. That season, Nevada tallied a 15-5 record within the Western Athletic Conference to claim a share of the regular-season title. Meuchel went on to earn his first NCAA victory as a head coach with a win over Cal Poly in the first round of the Palo Alto Regional.
Between his role as an assistant coach (2003-06) and head coach (2009-16) at Nevada, Meuchel helped the Wolf Pack collect 35 postseason all-conference individual accolades among 22 student-athletes including five WAC All-Tournament Team selections. That collection of awards included WAC Pitcher of the Year honors for Katie Holverson in 2009. Meuchel was first hired at Nevada when the program was reinstated in 2003. After three seasons of rebuilding the program, and having been promoted to associate head coach, he was part of a postseason run in 2006 that included Nevada’s first-ever WAC Tournament title. With that triumph, Nevada advanced to the NCAA Tournament and played in the Corvallis Region, hosted by Oregon State.
The Missoula, Montana, native began his coaching career with assistant roles at Arizona State and McNeese State in 2001 and 2002, respectively. He also served as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State and helped four student-athletes to All-Big 12 honors in 2007 and 2008 between his two stints at Nevada. Meuchel returned to Reno as Nevada’s new head coach ahead of the 2009 season.
Along with his time as a collegiate coach, Meuchel carries past coaching experience at the international and professional levels. He was part of the coaching staff for the Greek softball team that competed at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
Additionally, Meuchel spent the summers of 2011 and 2012 as an assistant coach for the USSSA Pride in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league. The Pride posted a combined 61-21 record and won two NPF regular-season championships with Meuchel on the staff. During the summer runs, he coached eight All-NPF selections, five Olympic gold medalists and two NPF Players of the Year; and was part of the 2011 NPF Coaching Staff of the Year.
Meuchel was married in the summer of 2009 to Joey Hall, and the couple has two children, Hudson and Charlie.
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