DURHAM, N.C. – The University of Connecticut announced Wednesday that Laura Valentino has accepted the head softball coaching position in Storrs, Conn., after two seasons as an assistant for the Duke Blue Devils.
“I want to express sincere gratitude to Marissa [Young], her family and [Senior Associate Director of Athletics/Compliance] Todd Mesibov for giving me the opportunity to coach at Duke University,” Valentino said. “I am so grateful to have been a part of starting a program at such a prestigious school. The student-athletes and people at Duke have forever left an imprint on my heart. I wish them all the best as they move into year three. I know the future is bright for the Duke softball program.”
Valentino has been an intricate part of the Blue Devils’ success in years one and two of the program, helping the squad put together a pair of impressive seasons to start the program. Duke won 54 total games and 24 in conference to finish seventh in the ACC in 2018 and sixth in 2019. Highlighting the conference victories were eight ACC series wins. Valentino and the Blue Devils closed out their inaugural regular season in dominating fashion, picking up three-straight series wins for the first time in program history (at Notre Dame, at Virginia Tech, vs. Virginia). In 2019, Valentino helped Duke secure its first road series sweep in school history, taking down Georgia Tech in dominating fashion.
Under Valentino’s leadership, the Blue Devils produced a defensive unit that finished 23rd in the nation in 2019 in fielding percentage. She was also key in the development of Duke’s catching unit, led by Jazmine Moreno who was among the best in the nation last season in runners caught stealing with 13.
“It has been a wonderful journey working side-by-side with Laura the last two years,” Duke head coach Marissa Young said. “I can’t say enough about her as a quality person, excellent coach, mentor and friend. All of us at Duke are extremely appreciative for all that she has done to help lay the foundation for future success in our program. From day one, I knew Laura’s goal was to become a head coach and seeing her able to reach that goal brings us all great joy. We are ecstatic for her and the opportunity to take the helm at UConn.”
Valentino, who steps into the head coaching role for the first time in her career, graduated from Hofstra in 2011 with a degree in physical education before earning a master’s degree in special education in 2013 from Fairfield. Prior to arriving to Duke, Valentino was an assistant at Charlotte (2015-17), Fairfield (2012-14).
Prior to her time at Fairfield, Valentino was a four-year letterwinner with the Hofstra University softball team as a designated player, infielder and catcher and was a part of the two winningest seasons in program history (45 wins in both 2008 & 2010). Valentino started 84 games over her final two seasons, helping NFCA All-America pitcher Olivia Galati establish school single-season records for wins (29), shutouts (17) and strikeouts (348). She capped her career by earning a spot on the NFCA Scholar-Athlete Team and garnering the Hofstra University Outstanding Senior Athlete award.
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