Kristen Butler enters her fourth season as head coach of the University of Toledo softball program.
In 2017, Butler guided the Rockets to their third straight 20-win season. It’s the first time Toledo has had three consecutive 20-win seasons since 1997. Butler coach second baseman Chandler Rice to first-team All-MAC honors and NFCA Division I All-Region honors in 2017. Butler also helped Rice become the first Rocket to play in the National Pro Fastpitch League, signing a contract with the Akron Racers.
Toledo finished 2017 with a 24-34 overall record and 11-13 conference record. Coupled with the 12-11 season in the MAC in 2016, Butler became the first Toledo coach since 1996-97.
Since her arrival at UT, the Rockets have continued to increase their total number of doubles, home runs, stolen bases and field percentage. Under Butler’s guidance, the Rockets have excelled in the classroom as well with UT earning 20 Academic All-MAC honorees.
In 2016, Butler helped guide Rice to first-team All-MAC honors along with outfielder Jessica Lemieux earning second-team All-MAC accolades. As a team, Butler coached Toledo to its first berth in the MAC Tournament since back-to-back appearances in 2012 and 2013. The 2016 Rockets finished the regular season on a 13-game winning streak, the longest unbeaten stretch since 1992. Toledo also finished 2016 with its first winning MAC record (12-11) since 1997 and highest conference winning percentage (.522) since 1996.
During her first season in 2015, Butler improved UT’s winning percentage from the previous season from .359 in 2014 to .426 in 2015. She also helped first baseman Samantha Showalter earn All-MAC freshman team honors.
Prior to coming to Toledo, Butler spent two season as an assistant coach at Charleston Southern, focusing primarily on pitching and catching duties. In 2014, CSU went to the NCAA Regionals and won the Big South Tournament. One of her pitchers, Cheyenne Gandara, was named the MVP of the tournament. She joined the CSU coaching staff in September of 2012 after previously coaching at Mississippi Valley and Florida.
While at MVSU, Butler and the rest of the coaching staff was honored as the Southwestern Athletic Conference Coaching Staff of the Year, after helping lead the Devilettes to a SWAC Championship and a berth in the NCAA Super Regionals.
At the professional level, Butler played four years with the Akron Racers of the National Professional Fastpitch League where she was awarded defensive player of the year honors in 2008. Butler continued her playing career in the Japan National League with Denso Softball, and set a Japanese national record with three home runs in one game. Butler played with the Chicago Bandits of the NPF as a catcher and designated player from 2012-15. Butler retired from the NPF League in 2015 and remains the all-time record holder in home runs and RBI’s.
A native of Orlando, Fla., Butler was a four-year starter from 2003-06 at the University of Florida where she played both catcher and third base. She was named SEC Player of the Year in 2006 after setting a new single-season home run record for the Gators. She also was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team in 2006 en route to graduating cum laude with a degree in sport management.
All four years at Florida, Butler was named a National Fastpitch Coaches Association Scholar-Athlete and was named to the SEC All-Tournament during her freshman campaign.
Butler earned her master’s degree from the University of Toledo in Recreation and Leisure Administration during the summer of 2017. She and her husband, Marcus, are the parents of one son, Austin.