Waldorf University athletic director Chad Gassman was surprised to be looking for a softball coach in January, just weeks before the 2022 season. But after former coach Lexy Determan announced on January 12 that she had taken the same position at Grinnell College, that’s actually what he had to do.
“We were not expecting a head coaching vacancy,” said Gassman
Now, three weeks since Determan announced she was leaving and days before the team opens their season – Gassman has decided the university won’t fill the vacancy until after the upcoming season.
“In order to ensure an optimal candidate pool, Waldorf will defer its upcoming nationwide search for a new head coach until after the completion of the 2022 college season”, the university said in a release.
So who will take the reins for this season? Waldorf announced that Forest City high school head softball coach Justin Uhlenhopp and Waldorf graduate Karina Prieto would fill in on a co-interim basis.
Uhlenhopp became an assistant for Determan before the 2021 season, while Determan has helped Uhlenhopp as the high school’s assistant for multiple summers. He played baseball for Waldorf in 2008 but would later graduate from Northern Iowa in 2012. This summer will be his fifth as the bench boss for the Indians; he has a 34-57 record in his first four.
Prieto played for Uhlenhopp and Determan last season, playing in 29 of the team’s 44 games. She hit an even .200 in 70 plate appearances for the Warriors last year. The native of Orlando, Fla., played 53 career games for the Warriors. She will now break into coaching this year.
Waldorf will open play in Austin, MN playing against Northwestern on Saturday, to whom the Warriors have dropped 11 straight games. According to the coaches’ poll released last month, Waldorf is predicted to finish sixth in the North Star Athletic Association. And are coming off a magical run through the conference tournament where Waldorf fought off three elimination games in which they were the underdog in all three. But came up short of winning the tournament to advance to the national tournament. The Warriors’ home opener is slated for Saturday, April 2, when they begin a four-game series with Presentation College in NSAA league play.
The conference tournament is scheduled to be played on May 5th-7th in Watertown, South Dakota. High school softball practice is scheduled to start on May 2nd.