Notre Dame hit the field for an exhibition game last Sunday, then made a special visit
Gessica Hufnagle, a 2007 Notre Dame graduate and former Irish catcher, is in her first season as a volunteer assistant coach after prior stints at Southern Mississippi and Bethel College in Mishawaka, Ind.
At Southern Miss, Hufnagle's duties included overseeing the outfielders, assisting in hitting and recruiting efforts for the program. The Golden Eagle outfielders committed 40 percent less errors in the field in 2009 than they had in 2008.
Hufnagle joined the Southern Miss softball coaching staff in 2009 after spending one season as an assistant coach at Bethel College, where she helped the team win the MCC Conference Championship, the NAIA Region VIII Championship and advance to the NAIA Nationals. She was a part of the 2008 NFCA Great Lakes Region Coaching Staff of the Year that posted a school record 51-6 mark.
During her stint at Bethel, Hufnagle worked primarily with the catchers and hitters. Other duties included assisting the head coach in day-to-day duties, recruiting, camps, and she was also the team's head strength and conditioning coach.
Hufnagle was a four-year letterwinner at Notre Dame (2004-07), where she saw significant time as a designated hitter, pinch runner and catcher her first two seasons. She earned a starting position her junior year as an outfielder before finishing her career behind the plate as the starting catcher during her senior campaign.
Hufnagle batted .290, finishing third in RBIs (25) and second in on-base percentage (.383) as a senior. She played on two regular season Big East Championships teams, one Big East Tournament champion and advanced to the NCAA Regional Tournament all four seasons. She earned her bachelor's degree with a double major in graphic design and psychology in 2007.
Hufnagle gained additional coaching experience as the head coach of the Triton Trojans, a 14U travel team from Bourbon, Ind., and as an assistant coach for the Jersey Intensity 18U Travel Team.
The Middlebury, Ind., native was a three-sport letterwinner at Northridge High School. Hufnagle was named to the all-state second team and Northern Lakes Conference honorable mention in softball as a junior for the Raiders.