Flames held to four-hit outing against the Golden Grizzlies
Flames take first game to 11 innings; run-rule Golden Grizzlies in second attempt
Polites (.538 avg) and Boyle (2.33 ERA) led the Flames to a 2-3 weekend at UCF Spring Fling
Mener drove in the game-winning run with her third single of the game
Cairns, Mack-Miller and Polites combine for nine of UIC's 16 hits on Saturday
UIC head softball coach Michelle Venturella recaps the USF Under Armour Invitational, looks at the team's progression so far this season and breaks down the opponents for this weekend's UCF Knight Spring Fling Tournament.
UIC head softball coach takes a look back at the SCU Bronco Classic, reviews how the pitchers have done so far this season, and previews the keys for the USF Under Armour Invitational.
UIC head softball coach Michelle Venturella recaps opening weekend and looks ahead to the SCU Bronco Classic.
UIC head softball coach Michelle Venturella looks ahead toward the 2015 season.
Head coach Michelle Venturella enters her seventh season at the helm of the UIC softball program. Since taking over, she has been named the Horizon League Coach of the Year in 2009 and 2013. Her squad claimed regular season championships in 2009 and 2013, while picking up the tournament crown in 2011, which propelled the Flames to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.
Upon taking over the program, the South Holland, Ill., native turned a squad that had finished the 2008 season under .500 along with a fifth-place finish in the Horizon League into a team that claimed 16 wins in conference play during the 2009 campaign and a trip to the conference championship game, while winning the regular season.
During the 2013 season, Venturella led the Flames to a first-place regular season finish and the right to hold the League tournament at Flames Field. There were six members on the Horizon League all-conference team, including Devin Miller being named the "Pitcher of the Year". The team tallied seven Horizon League weekly honors, two Scholar-Athlete of the Month accolades, one first team Academic All-American in Coryn Schmit, an academic all-district member, and Schmit being named the female Cecil Coleman award winner, while being nominated for the NCAA Woman of the Year award. Miller was also selected to the NFCA Great Lakes Region second team.
In 2012, UIC had three members on the all-Horizon League team in Schmit, Melissa Preish and Melinda Macias. Schmit was also named a first team academic all-district honoree that propelled her to being named a second team Academic All-American.
In 2011, Venturella assisted three Flames members to the all-conference team, while leading the squad to a Horizon League Championship and returning the team to the NCAA Tournament, a feat they had not accomplished since 2004.
Schmit returned to the all-conference team as a first-team pick along with Carly DeMarco. Schmit logged a .800 conference slugging percentage (.346 season total) and led the Flames with six home runs and 16 RBI during 20 league contests. DeMarco also concluded the season with a .346 batting average, while adding eight RBI. Natalie Hernandez was named to the all-newcomer team, in addition to being a second-team selection. The newcomer compiled a .349 batting average, while committing a mere four errors during her time at shortstop. She added nine RBI with three doubles, two home runs and a triple during her first season with the Flames. The Flames downed Butler in a 5-3 decision to win the conference and propel the team to the NCAA Regional.
During the 2010 season, the Flames placed four names on to the all-Horizon League team. Frydendall returned to the team after earning the fifth-highest batting average at .434, while leading the league with hits (39) and ranking fourth in RBI with 21 in 24 games. Macias and Devin Miller were named to the Horizon League second team, while Schmit was selected to the all-newcomer team along with Miller.
In 2009, in addition to receiving the conference coaching award, Venterella led four members to the all-conference team. Sarah Clynes was named the Player of the Year as she led the league in batting average (.437), slugging percentage (.690), on-base percentage (.512), runs scored (23), doubles (10), total bases (49) and walks (12). Brooke Frydendall and Ashley Hewett were first-team selections, while Macias was a second-team member, in addition to being chosen for the all-newcomer team.
Before arriving at UIC, the former catcher spent six seasons as the associate head coach at Iowa under head coach Gayle Blevins. In that role, she served as the recruiting coordinator and hitting coach, while also mentoring the team's catchers. During her tenure in Iowa City, Venturella assisted the Hawkeyes to a record of 251-116, including five NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2003, Iowa claimed both the Big Ten regular season and tournament title.
Prior to returning to the Big Ten to coach, Venturella first served as an assistant coach at Northern Illinois to Donna Martin during the 1996-97season. Following her stint with the Huskies, she spent the next five years training for the USA National Team, while working as a technical representative for Louisville Slugger. Venturella also served as a personal instructor, in addition to being a motivational speaker.
Venturella began her softball career in the Chicagoland area, a graduate of Thornwood High School. From there, she joined the Big Ten as a standout catcher for Indiana. During her tenure with the Hoosiers, she earned All-America honors, in addition to being named the Big Ten Player of the Year.
The success she had at Indiana set her up for a six-year stint on the USA National Team, where she earned four gold medals, including the 1998 World Championships and the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Venturella currently resides in Chicago, Ill.