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Posted on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

Eastern Michigan athletic director hires fellow ex-Michigan softball player to lead Eagles

By Pete Cunningham


Former Eastern Michigan softball assistant coach Melissa Gentile, center in 2005, was announced as the Eagles' new head coach on Monday, July 29.

Photo courtesy of EMU Athletics

Eastern Michigan hired a former University of Michigan softball team captain to lead its athletic department, and is sticking with the formula to lead the softball team.

Former Michigan All-American catcher Melissa “Skeeter” Gentile has been hired as Eastern Michigan’s new head softball coach, the school announced on Monday. Gentile was a four-year letter-winner for Michigan and captained the Wolverines in 2000. She is the first head coach hired by new Eastern Michigan athletic director Heather Lyke, who also played college softball at Michigan, captaining the Wolverines in 1992.


Melissa Gentile, pictured above, played for Michigan from 1997-2000.

Ann Arbor News file photo

"We are thrilled to have someone with Melissa's playing, coaching and teaching experience lead our softball program," Lyke said in a release. "Not only is she a highly motivated teacher and student of the game, she is an exceptional person. She will be a tremendous representative for our Department of Athletics and University. I appreciate the search committee's efforts, and we are extremely excited about the future of EMU Softball under her guidance."

Gentile replaces Karen Baird, who coached the Eagles for 11 years, compiling a 198-287-1 during her tenure. Baird did not have her contract renewed at the end of the 2013 season after Eastern went 17-33-1. Gentile was an assistant at Eastern from 2003-05 under Baird and at Central Michigan from 2000-02. Gentile led Jacksonville University to a 22-37 in her one year as a Division I head coach in 2006 before leaving to start her own company, Powerline Softball.

"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to return to EMU softball and to guide this program," said Gentile. "With the support of University President, Dr. Susan Martin, and the leadership of Athletic Director, Heather Lyke, the University and in particular the athletic department are entering an exciting time. I am eager to be a part of this new direction and to impact the lives of our student-athletes."

Gentile, 35, graduated from Michigan in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. She was the program's all-time leader in home runs when she graduated. Gentile earned a master’s degree in athletic administration from Central Michigan in 2005.

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


Pete Cunningham

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 10:46 p.m.

To show how much softball has changed in a short amount of time, Gentile graduated Michigan in 2000 as the career leader in home runs with 28 and that record stood for four years. Since 2004, that total has been passed by seven different players and the high mark now is 62, more than double Gentile's total. Michigan freshman Sierra Romero had 23 this season alone. Times they be a changin'.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:56 p.m.

Gentile had a back injury which ended her career early otherwise her HR number would have been much higher. She was amazing to watch both behind and at the plate. Lyke made her 2nd Michigan Softball alumni hire in as many years. She hired Kelly Kovach Schoenly at Ohio State last summer.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

She hasn't coached in 7 years? Hmmm


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 1:04 a.m.

It is a bit of a stretch to say "coaching" at Powerline Softball is the same as coaching at a D1 school. She's got to recruit players, set up opponents for the non-conference games, etc. Still she does have coaching experience and a program like EMU is not going to have lots of quality applicants. Let's hope Melissa comes through.

Pete Cunningham

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 10:21 p.m.

She hasn't been the head coach of a college team in seven years, yes, but most of what she does at Powerline Softball is coaching.