Joe Abraham has been named the head softball coach at The University of Toledo, UT Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien announced Wednesday.
Abraham is the 11th coach in program history and comes to Toledo after serving seven years as the head softball coach at Hillsdale College.
“We’re extremely excited to bring in Joe Abraham as the new head coach of our softball program,” O’Brien said. “Joe has a successful track record at each of his collegiate stops. I am certain that he’s the right person to further push our program and student-athletes to new heights. His accomplishments at Hillsdale were remarkable, and his dedication to education, character-building and personal accountability make him the perfect fit for Toledo.”
Abraham replaces Kristen Butler, who accepted the head coaching position at Rutgers following the end of the 2018 season.
Abraham said he is eager to get to work at Toledo, adding that the position checked all the marks for his career aspirations.
“I’m excited as I could be about coming to Toledo,” Abraham said. “This is the perfect program because of its geographic location, its membership in the Mid-American Conference, my familiarity with northwest Ohio area high school coaches, and the great support of the UT administrative staff. Mike O’Brien and [Senior Associate Athletic Director] Kelly Andrews, along with their staff, were very professional. I’ve said many times one of the only reasons I would leave Hillsdale would be to take a Division I coaching job in Ohio. I’m very excited to get started.”
Abraham compiled a 158-136 record at Hillsdale (86-71 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, 14-8 Great Midwest Athletic Conference) from 2012 to 2018. He was named the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2016 after leading his team to a 26-12 (19-7 GLIAC) record. The Chargers experienced only one losing season during his seven years at the helm.
Abraham’s tenure at Hillsdale was topped off this past season when the Chargers claimed their first Great Midwest Athletic Conference title and advanced to the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional. Following the season, junior outfielder Katie Kish was named Second-Team All-America by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and First-Team All-Region by the Division II Conference Commissioners Association.
Off the field, the Hillsdale softball program has maintained one of the highest grade-point averages of any varsity program over the past five years.
Before his tenure at Hillsdale, Abraham spent time at Division III Whitworth University, where he was head coach from 2008 to 2011. His teams improved steadily throughout his tenure, finishing the 2011 campaign in third place in the Northwest Conference.
While at Whitworth, Abraham returned the program to a level of success it hadn’t seen since the mid-2000s. Before the 2009 season, no player from Whitworth had ever earned all-region honors; Abraham’s players racked up three such honors in 2010 and 2011. Two players also picked up Academic All-District awards following the 2011 season, and the team’s conference record improved from 11-15 in 2009 to 17-11 in 2011.
Prior to his time at Whitworth, Abraham founded the Buckeye Heat travel softball team in Columbus, Ohio, in 1999. He spent 10 seasons coaching at various age levels and put together an overall record of 428-115, sending dozens of players to college teams around the country.
Abraham also served as coach for the United States softball team at the International Cup tournament, which competed in Holland from 2004 to 2006. He coached Ohio’s top players in the Ohio vs. West Virginia All-Star games from 2005 to 2008 and conducted many clinics for players in the central Ohio area. He spent seven seasons coaching Thomas Worthington High School in Ohio, where he rang up a record of 103-52. His prep teams won three league championships in a six-year span and achieved a top-10 ranking in the state of Ohio for the first time in school history in 2005.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Abraham graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and political science. He went on to Capital University Law School, where he graduated cum laude in 1996, practicing law from 1996 to 2008.
Abraham inherits a Toledo softball program that is coming off a breakout season. UT reached 30 wins for the first time since 1995, finishing the 2018 campaign with a 35-23 (16-7 Mid-American Conference) record and a share of the MAC West Division title. First baseman Bailey Curry became the first Toledo softball student-athlete to earn MAC Freshman of the Year. Curry and junior pitcher Kailey Minarchick were each named to the First-Team All-MAC squad as well, while senior Ashley Rausch made the second team, and freshman Kylie Norwood was selected to the All-Freshman squad.