Head coach Maria DiBernardi enters her 33rd season at the helm of the Villanova Softball program in 2016-17. Throughout her 30 plus years on the Main Line, she has compiled an impressive 818-714-10 record. DiBernardi has spent all of her coaching career at Villanova and is the winningest coach in school history over that time.
Last season, DiBernardi earned her 800th career win as a coach in an 8-7 victory against St. John’s on April 2, 2016. The 2016 campaign was a memorable one, as the team won 17 straight games and qualified for the BIG EAST Tournament with a 32-18 overall record and a 14-6 conference record. Under DiBernardi’s guidance, Kate Poppe was named the 2016 BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year and Lauren Hanna received the 2016 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year award.
DiBernardi registered her 750th career victory on Mar. 8th, 2014 as the Wildcats came back to knock-off Boston University 5-3 at the Under Armour Showcase in Clearwater, Fla. She notched her 700th win in the 2012 season on March 9th when Villanova defeated USC Upstate, 2-1. DiBernardi earned her 600th career victory on April 22, 2007 when her Wildcats posted a 1-0 shutout over conference rival Providence on the road. She reached her 650th victory on Feb. 21, 2010 in a victory over North Florida.
Associate Head Coach
Jessica O’Donnell enters her fourth season with the Villanova softball coaching staff in 2016-17. She serves as the associate head coach and aids head coach Maria DiBernardi with the day-to-day operations of the Wildcats program, along with being in charge of the infielders and catchers. “I am honored and grateful to have the opportunity to work here at Villanova under Head Coach Maria DiBernardi.
I can’t express how excited I am to have a successful mentor by my side throughout this process. From the minute that I stepped onto campus I knew I wanted to be apart of this highly respected University. The faculty and staff here at Villanova have been very welcoming and supportive since day 1. I am looking forward to competing for a championship with the Wildcat family!” O’Donnell previously worked with the Francis Marion University softball staff as an assistant coach for two seasons. Her duties included arrangement of team travel itinerary, camps, community service, promotions and recruiting. Her role on the diamond involved the infield as she was a starting shortstop during her playing days. The Pasadena, Md. native began her coaching career as an assistant coach at the Community College of Baltimore in Catonsville (CCBC). She also spent the 2011 summer working with the Florida Pride professional softball team. Prior to coaching, O’Donnell excelled at CCBC where she was an All-Conference and All-Region player and named an NFCA All-American Scholar Athlete in 2007.
The following year, she transferred to the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and became the starting shortstop for three seasons. She was an honoree for the American East Honor Roll during all-three seasons with the Retrievers and was named team captain in 2009. O’Donnell graduated from UMBC in 2010 with a B.A. degree in American Studies.
Stephanie Sanders enters her first year as an assistant coach on the Villanova softball staff for the 2016-17 season. Sanders will coach the outfielders, while also assisting with hitting.
“I am very excited and blessed for this opportunity to work for such a prestigious university, as well as such a great mentor in Coach DiBernardi. There is such a sense of pride in this university that is incomparable. I am grateful for the Wildcat family for welcoming me with open arms. I look forward to being relentless in our journey to a BIG EAST Championship.”
Prior to this year, Sanders was an assistant coach at Saginaw Valley State, where she coached the outfielders and hitting. She also helped with camps, clinics, strength and conditioning, and recruiting.