Coaches

 

UVA Head Coach Joanna HardingHead Coach
Joanna Hardin

Joanna Hardin enters her third season as the head coach of the Virginia Cavaliers.

In her first year at the helm, Hardin led the Cavaliers back to the ACC Tournament for the first time in three seasons and improved the Virginia win total by eight games. The Cavaliers won nine ACC games, the second most in school history. 

Hardin had Virginia playing its best softball down the stretch, winning eight of its final 10 regular season games, including a seven-game win streak and series wins over Georgia Tech and eventual NCAA Tournament qualifier Notre Dame. Her first season was also highlighted by the Cavaliers first win over a ranked opponent since 2014, defeating No. 14 James Madison, 5-4 on the road.

Under Hardin's tutelage, the 2017 Cavalier offense was among the most potent in the ACC, ranking in the top five in slugging percentage (3rd), doubles (2nd), triples (2nd), home runs (5th) and total bases (3rd). A pair of Cavaliers went on to earn All-ACC honors while catcher Katie Park became the program's first National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) First Team All-Region selection since 2013.

In 2018, Hardin mentored another All-Region selection in outfielder Allison Davis. The 2018 squad kept the long-ball going, launching 52 home runs to finish fourth in the ACC. The Cavaliers also finished in the top five of the ACC in RBI (210), doubles (73) and slugging (.437).

Prior to Virginia, Hardin spent the last four seasons at McNeese State, the first two as an assistant coach with the Cowgirls. She also has served as an assistant coach at Liberty University from 2007-09, with a stint as the head coach at Jefferson Forest High School in Forest, Va.

In her two seasons as head coach at McNeese State, Hardin led the Cowgirls to a 79-34 record including the Southland Conference championship and an NCAA Regional in 2016. Under Hardin’s guidance, sophomore Erika Piancastelli received All-America honors from the NFCA in 2015 and 2016. She is the first All-America selection in McNeese State program history.

In 2016, Hardin led the Cowgirls to a 43-14 record as McNeese State claimed the Southland Conference regular-season championship and the Southland Conference Tournament championship. The Cowgirls posted a 23-4 record in conference play and competed in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional. In regional play, McNeese State opened the tournament with a win over perennial national power Arizona State. The Cowgirls were eliminated from the Regional after falling to host LSU, who would advance to the semifinals of the Women’s College World Series as a national seed, and the Sun Devils in a 14-inning game in the second meeting between the teams.

Several players excelled under Hardin’s tutelage at McNeese State with Piancastelli leading the way as a two-time Southland Player of the Year and Hitter of the Year selection. Eight players also earned All-Southland Conference honors in 2016.

In 2015, her first season as head coach, Hardin coached Piancastelli to Southland Hitter, Player and Freshman of the Year honors. It was the first time a player had ever won all three honors in the league’s history. Hardin also coached Alanna DiVittorio to Southland Player of the Year and Hitter of the Year honors in 2014, while Jamie Allred claimed Southland Pitcher of the Year honors that same season.

During the 2014 campaign, McNeese State broke or tied 23 school or conference records. The Cowgirls ranked in the Top 50 in the nation in ERA, stolen bases and triples per game. Four players ranked in the Top 50 in the nation in 11 different statistical categories. McNeese State’s pitching staff included two of the top four pitchers in the SLC to lead the conference in ERA, while ranking 44th nationally.

In 2013, Hardin guided the pitching staff to a Top 10 national ranking and the top spot in the Southland in team ERA with a 1.79 mark. That squad also led the conference in opponent batting average (.220), saves (6), hits allowed (294), runs allowed (122), earned runs allowed (91), walks allowed (53) and extra-base hits allowed (63). Individually, Hardin helped develop the SLC’s top pitcher, Megan Bond, who led the conference in ERA (1.27), opponent batting average (.200), and saves (3).

Hardin began her coaching career as the head coach at Whittier Christian High School in La Habra, Calif., from 2005-07 and helped guide the Heralds to an Olympic League championship in 2006.

From 2007-09, Hardin served as assistant coach at Liberty University where she oversaw the pitching staff, conducted camps and clinics, and organized daily practices. In each of her two years at Liberty, the team finished the season as the Big South conference tournament runner-up. Under her guidance, Tiffani Smith was selected to the All-Big South Conference first team as a sophomore, the first Flame to receive such an honor since 2001.

After earning her Master’s Degree from Liberty University, Hardin started and coached a successful 12U/14U travel team, the Virginia Titans, in 2009. In 2010, while coaching the Titans, she served as head coach at Jefferson Forest High School where she led the Lady Cavaliers to the 2012 Seminole District Tournament Championship, a Virginia High School League (VHSL) Region III runner-up finish and the quarterfinals of the VHSL playoffs.

Hardin played softball for Biola University (La Mirada, Calif.) where she was a four-year letter winner from 2002-05. She was a four-time All-Conference and All-Region selection and earned NFCA All-America honors as a freshman in 2002.

She is married to Travis Hardin.
 

 

Assistant Coach
Kaleigh Rafter

Kaleigh Rafter, a current member of the Canadian National Team, enters her third season with the Virginia softball program. Rafter serves as the offensive coordinator and oversees the catchers and infielders.
 
In her first season working with the Virginia hitters, the Cavaliers emerged statistically as one of the top offenses in the ACC. Virginia's team batting average jumped 16 points from the 2016 season and the Cavaliers were ranked in the top three in the ACC in four different categories. Virginia set single season school records in slugging percentage (.457) and extra-base hits (143) while hitting 53 home runs, two shy of matching the school mark.
 
Rafter joined the Cavaliers after spending the 2016 season as an assistant coach at Buffalo. While at Buffalo, Rafter helped the Bulls establish new single-season team records in hits (383), triples (15), home runs (36) and walks (160). Buffalo scored 223 runs and drove in 203 at the plate, the second most in program history. In the field, Rafter helped the defense increase its fielding percentage by 28 points from the previous year.
 
A decorated player with the Canadian National Team, Rafter began her collegiate playing career at Detroit Mercy in 2006. Through her three-year career with the Titans, she was twice named Horizon League Player of the Year and an All-Region selection by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA). Following her junior season at Detroit, Rafter took a redshirt year to compete with the Canadian National Team in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.
 
In the 2008 Olympic Games, Rafter helped lead Canada to a fourth-place finish and kicked off her career with the Canadian Women’s National Team.
 
Following the 2008 Olympics, Rafter returned to finish her collegiate playing career at Florida State, helping lead the Seminoles to a 44-16 record and an NCAA Regional appearance. Rafter was named an All-ACC first-team selection and an NFCA All-Region selection for the third time as Florida State finished as ACC runner-up in 2009.
 
Rafter continued her career with Canadian team and has built an extensive international resume culminating with a 2015 gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. Her team claimed silver medals in the previous two PanAm Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2009) and Guadalajara, Mexico (2012). She has helped Canada to a pair of bronze medals at the International Softball Federation Championships in 2010 (Caracas, Venezuela) and 2016 (Surrey, Canada).
 
She also played two seasons professionally for Honda in the Japanese Professional Softball League.
 
Rafter holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology and master’s degrees in criminology and sports management from Florida State.
 

 

Assistant Coach
Katie Repole

Katie Repole is in her third season as an assistant coach with the Virginia softball program.
 
Repole, who comes to the Cavaliers after completing a playing career at nationally-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette in 2016, brings with her playing and coaching experience at a variety of levels. Repole works with the outfielders, assists with the offense and also serves as recruiting coordinator for the program.
 
Repole began her playing career at Illinois, playing two seasons with the Illini at third base. Repole made 66 starts across her two seasons before transferring to Louisiana-Lafayette. After sitting out a season following her transfer, Repole helped the Ragin’ Cajuns to a 46-9 record and a top-10 national rankings last season. Louisiana-Lafayette advanced to an NCAA Super Regional against the eventual NCAA Champion Oklahoma Sooners.
 
In a coaching capacity, Repole has worked at several instructional clinics across the country with multiple NCAA Division I programs. She has also served as an assistant coach with the Texas Bombers 18U softball team and the Texas Bombers 16U Gold team, a program that has consistently finished among the top teams in the nation with an ASA 16U Gold national championship.
 
She also worked as a Director of Development with the Texas Bombers organization, working with athletes from all 52 teams and assisting members of the program in the recruiting process.