More than 30 former players, coaches and managers were in attendance
Illini earn 27 wins on season, including 400th in program history
Gay earns 20th win of season; Wedel doubles, scores eventual winning run in return
Illinois downs Providence, 3-1; totals milestone victory over Boston U., 5-4
Sullivan uses nation-wide recruiting to add six to the Illinois softball family
Katie O'Connell returned to her alma mater prior to the 2009 season to serve as an assistant coach after a successful three-year stint as the head coach at Casey-Westfield High School.
In her first year, O'Connell was an integral part of the Illini's success as part of the coaching staff that directed the team to the NCAA Tournament while five players earned All-Big Ten honors. Since then the Orange and Blue have amassed 10 more All-Big Ten honorees while the Illini own a record of 128-73 during O'Connell's four seasons on staff.
At Casey-Westfield High School, O'Connell led the Warriors to Illinois Class A state runner-up finishes in back-to-back years.
In addition to O'Connell's success as the head coach at Casey-Westfield, she started at second base for Illinois from 2001-04 and played an important role in two of Illinois' most prolific seasons, leading the team to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2003-04. During her senior season, the Illini collected 45 wins, tied for the second-most in school history, and made the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, the best NCAA Tournament finish for the program. The Joliet, Ill., native ranks among the program leaders in Illini history in games played, games started, at bats, doubles, walks, sacrifice flies and sacrifice hits.
O'Connell's success on the field extends back to her high school days. As a member of the team at Joliet Township, O'Connell led her squad to the Class AA State Championship under the tutelage of her father, Dale O'Connell.
"Katie's expertise in teaching, strategizing and scouting will have an immediate impact on our program," head coach Terri Sullivan said. "Since she understands the game inside and out, Katie was a natural to join the coaching profession. She has excelled at every level of the game, both playing and coaching, and we are certain that the skills and success she brings will be an invaluable asset for Illinois softball."
THE O'CONNELL FILE
University of Illinois, B.S. in Kinesiology, 2005
University of Illinois, 2001-04
Joliet Township High School; Joliet, Ill., 1997-00
Volunteer Assistant Coach, University of Illinois, 2004-05
Head coach, Casey-Westfield High School, 2005-08
Assistant coach, Midland Magic 18 and under, 2006-08
Assistant Coach, University of Illinois, 2008-present