Courtney Deifel - Softball - Arkansas Razorbacks

Courtney Deifel

Courtney Deifel became the fourth head coach in program history when she was hired on June 11, 2015, and recently completed her eighth season at Arkansas in 2023. In eight seasons in Fayetteville, she has orchestrated the Razorbacks’ return to postseason play and guided the program to two SEC regular season championships, one SEC Tournament crown and six NCAA Tournament appearances, which includes six consecutive berths from 2017-23. The Hogs have qualified for the national tournament every year it has been held since 2017. Deifel led the program to its first NCAA Tournament Super Regional appearances in 2018, 2021 and 2022. Since her first season in 2016, the Razorbacks have been ranked 84 times in the NFCA Coaches’ Poll after previously being ranked only once in program history. 11 of the program’s 12 NFCA All-American awards and 78 Easton/NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete accolades have been accumulated under Deifel since 2016. Deifel – the program’s all-time wins leader – enters the 2024 season with 278 career wins at Arkansas. Deifel has logged four 40-win seasons while at Arkansas, including three consecutive 40-win seasons from 2021-23. Prior to her arrival in Fayetteville, Arkansas recorded only two 40-win seasons across 19 years. Heading into her ninth season at helm in 2024, Arkansas has won two of the last three SEC regular season crowns.

In the 2023 campaign, Deifel led Arkansas to another highly successful season and the program’s sixth consecutive NCAA appearance – the longest streak in program history. Finishing 40-19 (14-10 SEC), Arkansas claimed its third straight 40-win season and a top-four SEC finish. Earning the No. 11 national seed in the NCAA Tournament, all four of the program’s national seeds have been accumulated under Deifel. In Arkansas’ 7-6 win vs. No. 22 Louisiana on Feb. 18, Deifel became the program’s all-time wins leader after surpassing Carrie Dever-Boaz’s (1997-2004) 244 wins at helm. Under Deifel’s leadership, two Razorbacks received NFCA All-America recognition in 2023 – Rylin Hedgecock (NFCA First-Team All-America) and Chenise Delce (NFCA Second-Team All-America). Delce became the program’s first two-time NFCA All-American pitcher after collecting the honor in 2022. Six Hogs claimed NFCA All-Region status – Chenise Delce, Cylie Halvorson, Reagan Johnson and Rylin Hedgecock were named to the All-South Region First Team, Raigan Kramer was tabbed to the second team and Lauren Camenzind was selected to the third team. Delce had another breakout season in the circle, posting a 21-11 record and 2.02 ERA with 193 strikeouts, 17 complete games, six solo shutouts and four saves while limiting opponents to a .200 batting average. The 2022 SEC Pitcher of the Year, Delce picked up where she left off in 2023. The Oklahoma City product charted the fourth-most strikeouts (193) and saves by an SEC pitcher this year. She also filed the third-most wins by a league pitcher. Illustrating why she’s a force in the circle, 11 of her victories came against ranked competition. True freshman Reagan Johnson excelled at the plate and in center field, earning a spot on D1Softball’s Freshman All-America team and being honored as a Top 10 Finalist for NFCA/TUCCI’s National Freshman of the Year award. Johnson peppered the third-most hits (79) in single-season program history. She also boasted the sixth-highest batting average (.378) along with tying for the seventh-most stolen bases (18) and 10th-most runs scored (47) in single-season program history. Johnson also paced Arkansas with 24 multi-hit outings this season. The Karnes City, Texas, native ranked second in the SEC and eighth nationally in hits. Johnson also shined in center field and compiled a .968 fielding percentage with 86 putouts and four assists on 93 total chances.

In 2022, Deifel guided the Razorbacks to their most successful season in school history, collecting back-to-back SEC regular season titles, headlined by the program’s first outright regular season crown, and the program’s first SEC Tournament championship after blanking Missouri, 4-0, in Gainesville, Fla., on May 13. Arkansas concluded the season with the most single-season wins in program history and a 48-11 record, marking a program-record .814 win percentage. Arkansas finished SEC play with a 19-5 record, producing the second consecutive 19-win conference season for the Hogs. Against Missouri State on March 3, Deifel became just the second head coach in program history to reach 200 career wins. The Hogs made their 11th NCAA Tournament appearance, earning the program’s highest overall seed (No. 4) and hosted their second straight Super Regional. The Razorbacks hosted the highest attended Regional and Super Regional in the NCAA in 2022. The Razorbacks tabbed an SEC-best 12 all-conference honors and a school-record five NFCA All-American nods to round out yet another enormous postseason awards haul. Arkansas became the first SEC program since 2006 to have four first team all-Americans. Danielle Gibson (first team) became the program’s first two-time NFCA All-American while KB Sides (first team), Linnie Malkin (first team), Hannah Gammill (first team) and Chenise Delce (second team) earned their first All-American honors. For the first time in program history, all eight NFCA All-Region nominees secured spots on All-South Region teams. Deifel was named SEC Coach of the Year for the second straight season while KB Sides became the program’s its first-ever SEC Player of the Year honor and Chenise Delce earned the Hogs’ second consecutive SEC Pitcher of the Year accolade after Mary Haff collected the award in 2021. Arkansas tabbed a league-best 12 all-conference honors and eight NFCA All-Region distinctions to round out an enormous postseason awards haul. The 2022 coaching staff was named the NFCA’s South Region Staff of the Year for the second straight season.

Deifel, the SEC Coach of the Year, directed a successful 2021 season by claiming the school’s first SEC regular season title and hosting NCAA Tournament Super Regionals for the first time. The team finished 43-11 (19-5 SEC), producing a then-school record .796 win percentage. The Hogs earned a No. 6 national ranking, the highest in program history, and captured the No. 6 national seed in the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas began conference play winning 12 straight games, notching the fifth-best league-only start in SEC history. A 19-game winning streak in non-conference action also set a school record. The Razorbacks received many postseason superlatives as infielders Braxton Burnside and Danielle Gibson, and pitcher Mary Haff were named NFCA All-Americans. Haff also took home the school’s first SEC Pitcher of the Year award. Offensively, the Razorbacks shattered the school’s single-season home run record, mashing 95 long balls with Burnside setting the individual single-season program mark hitting 25. Deifel’s 216 wins in Fayetteville rank second among all coaches in program history. The NFCA named the 2021 coaching staff the South Region’s Staff of the Year.

Deifel guided the Razorbacks to a 19-6 (1-2 SEC) record in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 campaign. In the only league series of the season, the Razorbacks earned a 1-0 conference-opening victory, their first road win over Alabama since 2000. Arkansas remained in the national polls throughout the year and climbed from a preseason No. 24 ranking to the No. 19 slot in the final release of the NFCA Coaches’ Poll. Junior catcher Kayla Green was honored with SEC Player of the Week recognition for the first time in her career and freshman pitcher Jenna Bloom emerged as one of the rising stars in the league, leading all freshmen in the nation striking out 10.9 hitters per seven innings.

Deifel led the Razorbacks to their third consecutive postseason appearance in 2019, earning an at-large bid to the Stillwater Regional. The Hogs finished the season 38-20 and 12-12 in SEC play. It marks the first time since 1999-00 that the Razorbacks finished the season .500 or better in conference play in back-to-back seasons. The Razorbacks garnered their highest in-season ranking during weeks one and two, coming in at 12th and 11th in the NFCA and ESPN polls respectively.

Arkansas saw two players named to the All-SEC teams, pitcher Autumn Storms was named second team and outfielder Hannah McEwen garnered first-team recognition. McEwen’s first-team selection was the first for Arkansas since 2012 and only the second in program history. In year four under Coach Deifel, the Razorbacks also earned two SEC Player of the Week awards, three SEC Pitcher of the Week awards, and one USA Softball Co-Player of the Week. A record five Razorbacks were named to the NFCA All-Region teams, with Storms garnering the first, first-team selection of her career. Storms went on to be named NFCA Second Team All-American as a pitcher, the first Razorback since 2010.

Year four with Coach Deifel and the Razorback staff saw growth in all aspects as the game, including a team .288 batting average, which ranks second-highest in program record book. In fact, four of the top seven team batting averages in program history come from the Deifel era.

In the 2018 campaign, Arkansas wrapped up the year with a 42-17 (12-12 SEC) record, the third most wins in program history; and the most victories since 2000. The team earned a national seed (13) in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history and went 3-0 defeating DePaul and Wichita State twice to earn the Fayetteville Regional Championship on its home field. The Hogs made their first ever NCAA Super Regional appearance but fell to eventual national semifinalist, Oklahoma, in Norman. Arkansas finished 17th in the final NCAA RPI report and the coaching staff earned 2018 NFCA Division I South Region Staff of the Year.

Just two seasons removed from a one-win conference tally, Deifel guided the Razorbacks to a 12-12 mark in SEC play. As the No. 7 seed at SEC Tournament, the program made its first semifinal appearance since 2001. The Razorbacks finished the season with a 27-2 record on their home field, establishing a new program record for home wins in a single season. Part of Arkansas’ home triumphs included the program’s first three-game sweep of a ranked team (No. 20 Mississippi State) and its first-ever series win over Alabama.

Deifel piloted the 2017 Razorbacks to a 31-24 record and the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013. The Razorbacks improved their win total by 17 games from the previous season, marking the largest increase in the country among Power 5 programs. Arkansas also tallied seven wins in SEC play, equaling the combined total from the previous three seasons. In recognition of the team’s performance, Deifel was named the 2017 D1SoftballNews Coach of the Year.

From year one to two under Deifel, Arkansas’ pitching staff lowered its combined ERA by more than four runs (6.98 to 2.82) and added more than 20 points to its batting average (.260 to .284). The Razorbacks also led the SEC and tied for 17th in the NCAA with 59 home runs. During the year, Arkansas earned its first national ranking since 2013 when it was slotted at No. 24 in the March 7 release ESPN/USA Softball poll.

Individually, Deifel saw two Razorbacks earn NFCA All-South Region accolades with Nicole Schroeder and Autumn Storms earning second-team and third-team honors, respectively. Storms was also named to the SEC All-Freshman Team while A.J. Belans was voted to the All-SEC Second Team. Schroeder went on to be drafted by the Akron Racers as the program’s second NPF selection.

Deifel’s first win over a ranked team at Arkansas came during the 2016 season when the Razorbacks knocked off No. 23 Nebraska, 11-10, during the Easton Tournament in Fullerton, Calif.; the team added five ranked wins in 2017. The 2016 campaign also saw newcomer Ashley Diaz make an immediate impact as a member of the NFCA All-South Region Second Team and garnered NFCA National Freshman of the Year Top 25 Watch List recognition.

During her playing and coaching careers prior to coming to Arkansas, Deifel 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 featured 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.

She also spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma where she was a member of a staff the guided the 2008 Sooners to a 47-14 record and a Super Regional appearance.

As a player, Deifel was the starting catcher for California from 2000-03 and led the Golden Bears to four Women’s College World Series appearances including a national championship run in 2002 and national runner-up showing in 2003. She appeared in 285 games missing just three behind the plate over her four seasons. 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 LeoPalace21 in Japan that resulted in a runner-up showing and a pair of third-place finishes.

She graduated from California in 2003 with a bachelor of arts in American Business and Globalism and American Studies. Deifel earned her master’s of arts in Human Relations from Oklahoma in 2008.

Deifel’s sister, Amanda Scott, is currently the head softball coach at Missouri-St. Louis and won a Women’s College World Series title at Fresno State in 1998.

Deifel and her husband Joe are the parents of two sons, Trip and Walt. The family resides in Fayetteville.

Coaching Experience
Oklahoma (Graduate Assistant) – 2008-09
Maryland (Assistant Coach) – 2009-10
Louisville (Assistant Coach) – 2011-15
Maryland (Head Coach) – 2015
Arkansas (Head Coach) – 2016-present

Playing Experience
California – 2000-03
NY/NJ Juggernaut (NPF) – 2004
LeoPalace 21 (Japan) – 2004-06

Arkansas NFCA All-Americans under Deifel
Year – Name – Team – Position
2019 – Autumn Storms – Second Team – Pitcher
2021 – Braxton Burnside – First Team – Shortstop
2021 – Mary Haff – First Team – Pitcher
2021 – Danielle Gibson – Second Team – First Base
2022 – Hannah Gammill – First Team – Third Base
2022 – Danielle Gibson – First Team – First Base
2022 – Linnie Malkin – First Team – Utility/Designated Player
2022 – KB Sides – First Team – Outfield
2022 – Chenise Delce – Second Team – Pitcher
2023 – Chenise Delce – Second Team – Pitcher
2023 – Rylin Hedgecock – First Team – Utility/Designated Player

SeasonOverall RecordConference Record
2015 (Maryland)27-279-14 Big Ten
201617-391-23 Southeastern
201731-247-17 Southeastern
201842-1712-12 Southeastern
201938-2012-12 Southeastern
202019-61-2 Southeastern
202143-1119-5 Southeastern
202248-1119-5 Southeastern
202340-1914-10 Southeastern
Overall Record305-17494-100
Arkansas Record278-14785-86