The University of Connecticut named as its new head softball coach Laura Valentino, who has served as an assistant coach at Fairfield, UNC-Charlotte, and Duke since 2011.
Most recently, Valentino was an assistant coach at Duke, which launched its program prior to the 2018 season. Her primary responsibilities while on the Blue Devils’ coaching staff was infield play, catching, and offensive strategy. Duke posted a 54-58 record in its first two years of existence, and the team finished tied for third in the ACC Coastal Division in 2019.
“I am so honored and excited to be the next head softball coach at UConn,” Valentino said. “I want to thank David [Benedict], Adrianne Swinney, Jamelle Elliott, and their staff for this amazing opportunity, and I am looking forward to working with them in building a championship culture at UConn. The future is bright for UConn softball, and I can’t wait to get to work in achieving greatness on and off the field.”
In its inaugural season, Duke’s 13 conference wins were headlined by four series victories, including a sweep of Boston College. Last season, Duke finished with the highest fielding percentage in the ACC, and was ranked No. 22 nationally in the category. The Blue Devils also completed the season second in doubles, tied for fourth in triples, and fifth in hits.
“We met with several impressive candidates during this interview process, but Laura set herself apart with her energy, passion, and preparation,” said Benedict, UConn director of athletics. “During her time as an assistant coach, Laura has enjoyed a great deal of success and the experience she gained during the implementation of the Duke softball program should prove invaluable as she endeavors to build a championship culture here at UConn. This is an exciting time for UConn, and I know our softball team is in good hands.”
Valentino mentored a pair of ACC All-Freshman team picks, and an All-ACC First Team selection. Additionally, she has helped develop several NFCA Scholar-Athletes, a trio of ACC All-Academic selections, and 12 student-athletes on the ACC Honor Roll.
Before her time in Durham, North Carolina, she spent three seasons at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. While with the 49ers, her primary responsibilities were student-athlete development on both sides of the mound, overall strategy, and catching.
Charlotte tallied a 30-win campaign in 2016, a feat not seen since 2010, and matched that the following season. Valentino’s stint in Charlotte produced a pair of All-Conference student-athletes, an All-Freshman selection, two All-Region honorees, a First Team CoSIDA Academic All-American, and the 2017 Conference USA Championship.
Valentino also spent three seasons at Fairfield, where she assisted with the offense, defense, pitching, and catching, in addition to recruiting and administrative duties.
During her tenure, the Stags won a pair of regular season championships and advanced to the conference tournament final on two occasions. In 2014, she coached four First Team All-MAAC selections, including the MAAC Pitcher and Player of the Year.
A 2011 graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in physical education (K-12), Valentino was a four-year letter winner at the designated player, infield, and catching positions. She was a part of the two winningest seasons in program history – 45 wins in both 2008 and 2010. She started 84 games, and capped her collegiate career with a spot on the NFCA Scholar-Athlete team with a career record of 156-59.
A native of Smithtown, New York, and 2014 Smithtown High School Hall of Fame inductee, Valentino earned her master’s degree in special education from Fairfield in 2013.