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Michelle Gardner named new BGSU softball head coach

BGSU+named+Michelle+Gardner+its+10th+softball+coach.+She+comes+to+the+Falcons+from+Coastal+Carolina+University.+
Coast Carolina University Athletics
BGSU named Michelle Gardner its 10th softball coach. She comes to the Falcons from Coastal Carolina University.

Bowling Green State University announced the hiring of Michelle Gardner as the 10th softball head coach in program history on Monday afternoon.

Gardner replaces Candace Fenton-Bockbrader, who did not have her contract renewed after leading the Falcons to a lackluster 15-79 overall record across two seasons.

Gardner comes into the role with 15 years of head coaching experience, being the head coach at Indiana University for nine years and coaching six years at the University of Nevada. Gardner was also an assistant coach at Florida State University and Arizona State University, most recently spending two years as an associate head coach at Coastal Carolina University, where she primarily focused on pitching.

“Michelle Gardner has been part of success at every step of her career that has spanned nearly 40 years as a player, assistant coach and head coach,” BGSU Director of Athletics Derek van der Merwe said. “She is highly skilled in all facets of the game, and her experience, knowledge, and leadership will be pivotal as we strive to elevate our program to new heights. After an extensive review of her past, credentials, and references, it was clear she has earned the respect of her peers and players and is considered a highly respected coach in this profession.”

Gardner is a former player and alumni at Michigan University, where she was a pitcher under Hall of Fame head coach Carol Hutchins. In her 1988 season, she was named the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year and earned a 0.94 earned run average that season.

“It is an honor to lead the BGSU softball program, as well as joining this athletic department and the entire BGSU community. I cannot wait to meet all the players and discuss the next steps we will take as a softball program,” Gardner said. “I am very thankful for this opportunity, and we look forward to getting embedded into the Bowling Green community.”

Gardner is returning to the Falcons after serving on the coaching staff that won the team’s last regular-season championship in 1993.

“We are thrilled to welcome her back to BGSU and look forward to the positive impact she will undoubtedly have on our student-athletes and the broader Bowling Green community,” van der Merwe said.

Van der Merwe makes another major hire to help rebuild a program. The Falcons have finished dead last in the Mid-American Conference the past two seasons.

“She has been transformative in leading programs, taking a Nevada program that started after a 14-year hiatus to multiple conference championships and NCAA Tournament appearances,” van der Merwe said. “She spent nearly a decade in the Big Ten at Indiana as the head coach, reached the College World Series with Arizona State as an assistant, and achieved NCAA Tournament success at Florida State.”

For more stories related to BGSU Athletics, follow Falcon Media Sports Network on X (@bg_fmsn).

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