Coach Cara LaPlaca, entering her 13th season as UD's head coach for 2020, has implemented a hard-working, successful culture of excellence with the University of Dayton softball program. LaPlaca’s emphasis on leadership enhancement, mental skills training and team chemistry have vaulted her most recent teams to new heights.
She serves on the NFCA top 25 Committee and is a 2019 inductee into the Clarke University's Athletics Hall of Fame. LaPlaca tallied her 233rd career win at UD on April 15, 2017 at La Salle, becoming Dayton's all-time winningest coach. She now has 294 wins at UD. Notable - coach LaPlaca currently has 425 career wins as a head coach.
Program Records Under Coach LaPlaca
Stolen Bases - 75 (2019)
Pitching Strikeouts - 355 (2017)
Doubles - 95 (2017)
Team Batting Average - .300 (2017)
Wins In a Single Season - 39 (2015)
Winning Percentage - .736 (2015)
Saves - 10 (2015)
Shutouts - 12 (2015)
Home Runs - 53 (2014)
RBI - 253 (2014)
Runs Scored - 281 (2014)
Nine-consecutive 20+ win season
Seven-consecutive appearances in the Atlantic 10 Championship
In 2016, the Flyers received high honors in both the Atlantic 10 and Mid-Atlantic region, as Cash earned 2016 A-10 Pitcher of the Year honors as well as a spot on First Team Atlantic 10. The sophomore also made NFCA All-Region First Team. Joining her as a first team member of both the A-10 and Mid-Atlantic region was junior Gabby Snyder. The two anchored a pitching staff that finished seventh in the country in ERA.
In 2015, LaPlaca, the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year, led her team to a 39-14 overall record, breaking the record for most wins in the program’s history. This was the most wins in a single season for LaPlaca, and her sixth, 20-win season at UD. The Flyers won their first Atlantic 10 Regular Season Championship with a 20-2 record. The Flyers took second in the Atlantic 10 tournament, ending the most successful season in school history.
The Flyers also received many individual honors in 2015: 12 A-10 All-Conference honors, including a sweep of all four major awards: A-10 Player of the Year Tiffany Ricks, A-10 Rookie of the Year Manda Cash, A-10 Pitcher of the Year Kayla English, and LaPlaca earned A-10 Coach of the Year. Plus, the Flyers had a school-record four players on NFCA All-Region teams. Coach LaPlaca also topped a personal coaching milestone, earning her 300th career coaching victory in a 7-1 win over Saint Joseph's
Since her arrival, LaPlaca has helped the Flyers continue a tradition of excellence with their rookies. Dayton has had at least one player named to the A-10’s All-Rookie Team since the team was instituted in 2006, with the exception of the 2017 season. Additionally, 11 of UD’s 13 selections to the all-rookie team have come under LaPlaca’s guidance.
The 2012 roster picked up the first win in program history over a team receiving votes in the national poll with its 3-1 win over USC Upstate on March 3.
Molly Meyer set school records with 197 career hits and had 64 stolen bases in her career as well as 34 in a single season. Meyer also became Dayton’s first softball student-athlete to play internationally (Leksand, Sweden) after her playing career at UD. She was later followed by three more Flyers playing overseas Gabby Snyder (Basel, Switzerland & Adelaide, Australia), Manda Cash (Basel, Switzerland) and Lisa Tassi (Basel, Switzerand).
In her first season at the helm, LaPlaca guided the Flyers to their first 20-win campaign in three years and more than doubled their Atlantic 10 win total in 2008. In addition, LaPlaca’s 20 wins was the most by any first-year head coach at UD.
Aside from the successes on the field, LaPlaca’s teams also thrive in the classroom and in the community. Catcher Laura Matthews earned a second-team selection on the 2008 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Softball Team. The senior catcher became the 76th Academic All-American overall at UD.
LaPlaca was named head softball coach for the University of Dayton in July 2007 and joined the Flyer staff after six years at Clarke College.
In her six years at Clarke, she had been instrumental in the program’s success. LaPlaca guided the Crusaders to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2003 and 2004. In 2003, the Crusaders made a first-ever NCAA tournament berth claiming the Northern Illinois-Iowa Conference Championship and winning a school record 27 games. The team had five consecutive 20-plus win seasons during her tenure and she tallied a 131-126 overall mark at Clarke.
Under her reign, the Crusaders produced 28 All-Conference honorees, six NFCA All Region honorees, and one Conference Player of the year. In addition, four out of her six years the team was ranked in the Top 25 Nationally in grade point average by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. LaPlaca was named the NIIC Conference’s Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2004.
In addition to her coaching responsibilities at Clarke, she was also a mental health counselor and served as the Senior Woman Administrator. LaPlaca is a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and a 2008 graduate of the NCAA Women’s Coaches Academy.
A 1999 graduate of Clarke College, LaPlaca earned her degree in psychology and was a student-athlete standout as a two-time first-team Northern Illinois - Iowa Conference Selection. In addition, she earned MVP honors and served as team captain for the Crusaders.
In 2002, she earned her master of education degree in counseling from Western Illinois University. LaPlaca, her husband Michael and daughters Austyn, Hayden and Evynn reside in Centerville, Ohio.
Tristan Wilcox joined head coach Cara LaPlaca's staff prior to the 2017 season. She serves as the recruiting and camp coordinator and works directly with the catchers and hitters.
Over her three years on coach LaPlaca's staff, Wilcox has helped lead the Flyers to three-consecutive appearances in the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship including a third-place finish in the 2018 league tournament. In 2017, the Flyer offense set new program single-season records for doubles (95) and hitting percentage (.300).
Wilcox, a 2013 graduate of Aurora University, spent the 2016 season as an assistant coach at Hillsdale College and helped lead the squad to the program's best finish in school history with a 19-5 record in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play. She went to Hillsdale after spending her first two post-graduate years at her alma mater, Aurora, where she worked as a graduate assistant for the softball team. During both her years coaching at Aurora, the team won NACC Conference and advanced to regionals. Wilcox completed a MBA with a concentration in leadership while coaching the Spartans.
A four-year member of the Aurora Spartans' softball team 2010-13, Wilcox put together a terrific career. A starting catcher, she was named the Northern Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2013 and was twice named the Aurora University Female Athlete of the Year (2012, 2013). She was named First-Team All-Conference four times and First-Team All-Region three times. Her team advanced to the NACC conference tournament each year and advanced to regionals twice in her career. She also worked in the Aurora University sports information office for four years. Wilcox graduated from Aurora with a bachelor's degree in fitness and health with a business minor.
Member of NFCA and WeCOACH
Graduate of NCAA Women's Coaches Academy (Class #43, 2017)
Attended What Drives Winning Conference (2018) and Softball Excellence Hitting Summit (2017)
Regularly attends annual NFCA conventions
Francesca "Fran" Carrullo joined head coach Cara LaPlaca's staff prior to the 2018 season. She serves as the director of operations and the academic liaison while working with pitchers and catchers. Carrullo also organizes community service activities for the team including events with Miracle League, Habitat for Humanity, area breast cancer walks and Dayton's annual Women in Sports Day celebration.
Over her two seasons on coach LaPlaca's staff, Carrullo has helped lead the team to back-to-back appearances in the Atlantic 10 Championship, including a third-place finish at the 2018 league tournament.
During Carrullo's first season staff, left-handed pitcher Manda Cash was named to the CoSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-District 5 First Team, NFCA Division I All-Region Second Team, A-10 All-Conference Second Team and the A-10 All-Academic Team. Cash finished her career as the program's strikeouts leader (720), wins leader (55) and holds Dayton's highest strikeouts/seven innings ratio (8.28).
Carrullo was a four-year member of the St. John's softball team and capped off her tenure with the Red Storm by posting a 12-5 record, including the victory that clinched the program's first-ever Big East Championship, as a right-handed pitcher in 2015. Following the tournament win, the squad made the program's first NCAA appearance, playing at Arizona. The four-time member of the Big East All-Academic Team completed a post-graduate degree in sports management, also at St. John's, in December of 2016.
During her time at St. John's, Carrullo also served as a student intern in the Athletics Communication office and as a graduate assistant in the athletics Academic Advising office. She was most recently a co-owner at High Velocity Fast Pitch in Warminster, Pennsylvania, since December 2011. Carrullo provides instruction and development of pitchers ranging from beginners to elite.
Currently working on a master's degree in human services at University of Dayton
Attended NCAA Women's Coaches Academy (2018), What Drives Winning Conference (2018), NFCA Conference (2018) and Softball Excellence Pitching Summit (2017)