Head Coach Michelle Gardner talks to Jeremy Gray about the last two weekends of play and looks ahead to Big Ten play this weekend at Ohio State.
Michelle Gardner will be entering her fifth season as the head coach of the Indiana softball program in the 2013 season. She was named the eighth head coach IU softball history on June 9, 2008 after spending the previous six seasons as the head coach at the University of Nevada, where she was named the 2008 Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.
Over her first four seasons as the head coach, she has had 10 players receive All-Big Ten honors. In the last two seasons, she has had three players named First Team All-Big Ten, which is more than the 2001-2010 seasons combined (two).
Gardner led the Hoosiers to a 30-25 record in 2012, and by reaching 30 wins, it was the first time since 1989 and 1990 that the Hoosiers have posted back-to-back 30-win seasons (37 wins in 2011). Shannon Cawley was named to the All-Big Ten First Team, while Amanda Wagner was named to the Second Team and Cassie Cogreve earned Third Team honors.
Gardner led the Hoosiers resurgence in 2011 behind the arm of strikeout queen Morgan Melloh and the bat of Sara Olson. Melloh was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and Olson was named First Team All-Big Ten. Both were named First Team All-Midwest Region and paced the Hoosiers as they advance to the NCAA Regional for the first time since 2006. Melloh set Big Ten and IU records for strikeouts in a single-season (494).
Ind 2010, Jennifer Glueckert became the first All-Big Ten honoree from Indiana to receive Second Team accolades since 2006 as she led the team with a .389 conference batting average and had a hit in all but three conference games.
While at Nevada, Gardner had an overall record of 187-176 and 60-56 in WAC play and coached 34 Academic All-WAC selections, 13 preseason All-WAC selections, 21 postseason All-WAC honorees, 21 WAC Players of the Week, eight WAC All-Tournament selections, one WAC Tournament MVP and 2008 WAC Player of the Year, Vanessa Briones. The success of her players also began to show itself on the national scene, as three Wolf Pack players on the 2008 roster received NFCA All-West Region honors.
Gardner, a native of Petersburg, Mich., led the Wolf Pack to an appearance in the NCAA Regional in 2008 and was named WAC Coach of the Year and her coaching staff was named NFCA West Region Staff of the Year following a school-best 44-18 overall record. She also posted a 16-2 record in conference play to claim the WAC regular season title, also the first in program history. Yet another first in the 2008 season for Gardner came at the end the year when freshman catcher Noelle Micka was named NFCA Second Team All-American, the first Wolf Pack player to ever receive all-american laurels.
The 2007 season saw four Wolf Pack players receive All-WAC honors en route to 28 wins and an appearance in the WAC Tournament finals. All of this came one year after Gardner led Nevada to the WAC regular season and tournament titles and the first-ever appearance in the NCAA Regionals in 2006.
The Wolf Pack record dipped below .500 in 2005 but they were still able to land a player on the first and second all-conference teams. In 2004, Gardner led Nevada to a then-school record 38 wins and saw Candice Rainwater earn First Team All-WAC honors, the first time in school history a player was named to the first team.
In her inaugural season in Reno in 2003, Gardner and the Wolf Pack went 22-35 on the year and were still able to place a pair of players on the All-WAC Second Team.
She was hired by Nevada in December of 2001 when the university decided to bring softball back a varsity sport following a 14-year hiatus. The Wolf Pack began competing in the WAC with the start of the 2003 season and Gardner led them to 22 overall wins, the first of six consecutive seasons with 20-plus wins
Before heading up the Nevada program, Gardner was an assistant coach at Arizona State (1999-2001) and Florida State (1995-1998) helping lead both schools to NCAA Regional appearances and a College World Series appearance at Arizona State. She was also and assistant coach at Bowling Green State University as well as a hitting and pitching instructor at the high school level.
Gardner is a 1989 graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in Physical Education, where she was a standout pitcher from 1984-1988. In her senior season, she was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and garnered first team all-region honors as well. After exhausting her eligibility at Michigan, Gardner participated with several nationally-ranked Amateur Softball Association (ASA) teams in addition to competing in three Olympic festivals. She was also part of softball's first appearance in the 1996 Olympic Games when she took part in the Olympic Trials.
Garner is married to William "Gard" Gardner and they have three children, Lucas (10), Jilliyn (6) and Lydia (5).