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COLUMBUS, Ohio –Danielle Henderson, Olympic gold medalist and a three-time collegiate All-American, has been named assistant coach, Ohio State softball head coach Linda Kalafatis announced Thursday.  Henderson, the 1999 Honda Award winner, given to the nation’s top softball player, from the University of Massachusetts (1996-99) completes the staff of Kalafatis and former Nebraska All-American Ali Viola.

“Danielle Henderson had a terrific college playing career at UMass and also with the 2000 Gold Medal winning USA Olympic Team which I’m sure will lead to a terrific coaching career,” Kalafatis said. “She will work primarily with our pitchers to develop a young staff and will also be an integral part of our offensive attack since our hitters will be facing a great pitcher almost daily. Danielle’s experience as an Olympian competing with and against the best in the world no doubt helped shape her into the player and now the coach she is.”

Henderson, who has instructed individual and group pitching lessons the past six years after four years as an assistant coach at her alma mater (2000-03), brings the experience of facing the best talent from around the world and knowledge of the art of pitching to Ohio State.

“I’m excited to return to college coaching and join a strong Ohio State program that has been very successful,” Henderson said. “There is a ton of support for the athletics department and university and I’m looking forward to joining the Buckeye family. Ohio State and the city of Columbus are very supportive of their sports and I’m thrilled to be back in NCAA softball as a Buckeye.”

A member of the gold medal-winning 2000 U.S. Olympic softball team in Sydney and 2001 Women’s Pro Softball League Gold team, Henderson brings valuable pitching expertise few coaches have in the country.

Henderson is considered one of the most decorated athletes UMass has ever produced, rewriting the softball record book in her four seasons on the mound. A four-time All-Atlantic 10 selection and a four-time A-10 Tournament Most Outstanding player, Henderson finished her career second all-time on the NCAA’s strikeout list with 1,343 in her four-year career. She was also the nation’s leader in strikeouts per seven innings in both 1998 and 1999.

Henderson, a native of Commack, N.Y., currently ranks first in the UMass record books in 14 career and individual statistics. In her career, Henderson is first in ERA (0.70), shutouts (72), strikeouts (1,343; 13th in NCAA history), no-hitters (14) and tied for perfect games with three. In a season, Henderson is first in ERA (0.39), shutouts (23), strikeouts (465), strikeouts in seven-inning game (18; three times), consecutive strikeouts (12), consecutive wins (26), consecutive shutouts (11), consecutive scoreless innings (105; NCAA record) and is tied for first in appearances (49).

After earning her bachelor’s degree in sport management in the spring of 1999, Henderson competed as part of the U.S. National Team that captured the gold medal at the Pan American Games and the Canada Cup.

As a player, coach and instructor, Henderson has accumulated several other impressive accomplishments and experiences:

  • Was the first player at UMass to have jersey retired (2001)
  • Inducted into the New England Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2002
  • Inducted into the UMass Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009
  • Was a member of the National Pro Fastpitch with Arizona Heat (2004) and New England Riptide (2005-07), winning a national championship and representing all-star team
  • Pitching consultant for local collegiate programs, including Adelphi University (2007-08)

“While she’s been out of college softball for a few years as a private instructor, Danielle has followed it closely. She told me she realized she missed the excitement of the game and the intense competition it brings,” Kalafatis said. “I believe her time as a private instructor has only strengthened her ability to work and teach the art of pitching and we’re excited to call her a Buckeye now. With Ali Viola and Danielle Henderson, I am proud to have two of the best to have ever played softball on staff here at Ohio State.”

Henderson has been a personal softball instructor in New York since 2004. She organized and marketed camps and clinics for all age groups and skill levels. As an assistant at UMass, Henderson created daily training programs for pitchers and team conditioning, recruited potential student-athletes, performed daily office tasks and supervised academic performance of student-athletes.

The 2011 pitching staff will be headlined by 2010 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Melanie Nichols, while rising senior Karisa Medrano and red-shirt freshman Kasie Kelly  also return for Ohio State. The Buckeyes report to fall practice Sept. 14 before hosting the 10th-annual Ohio Collegiate Charity Classic Oct. 2-3 for the Stephanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research.