Head Coach Heather Bruder
Contact information for Coach Bruder
Office phone: 419-358-3378
Heather Bruder is entering her ninth season as head softball coach of the Bluffton University softball team. In her third season at Bluffton, Coach Bruder guided the Beavers to a 30-13 record, shattering the previous school mark of 26 wins set by the 2004 squad. Bluffton has qualified for the four-team HCAC tournament in each of Bruder's eight years at the helm and the Beavers made it to day two of the tournament in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014 when they played in their first championship game. Since Bruder took over at Bluffton, the Beavers have posted an outstanding mark of 88-37 in Heartland Conference action.
In her first four seasons at Bluffton, the Beavers' batting average improved 64 points from .238 to .302. Opponents batted 46 points lower in 2009 than they did in 2007, .223 compared to .269 during her first season.
Bruder graduated from Alma College in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and a minor in sociology. She earned her master of arts in sport administration from Central Michigan University in 2001.
During her softball career at Alma College, Bruder was an academic All-American three times while leading her teams to three straight MIAA titles from 1997-1999. As a senior captain, the outfielder was a member of the Alma squad which finished third at the NCAA Division III nationals.
After taking over a struggling program at Northwood University, Bruder turned the program into a national powerhouse in NCAA Division II softball. In 2005 after five straight losing seasons, the Timberwolves finished with a 34-14 overall record and their first ever GLIAC championship. Bruder was named GLIAC Coach of the Year and her team advanced to the finals of the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship where it fell to Northern Kentucky, the number 1 team in the country.
She built on that success in 2006 as the Timberwolves won a school record 37 games and placed six players on All-GLIAC teams, including Lisa Shepard who earned first team All-Region honors during her junior and senior seasons. Northwood put together a 71-29 record during Bruder's final two seasons as head coach.
In addition to her success at Northwood, Bruder has served as an assistant softball coach for USA Athletes International. She organized trips to Belgium, Germany, Aruba and Sydney while directing team developmental clinics for international youth organizations.
Coach Bruder currently resides in Findlay, Ohio.
Volunteer Assistant Pitching Coach Brooke (Babcock) Stephenson
Contact information for Coach STEPHENSON
Brooke (Babcock) Stephenson is currently in her fifth year as an assistant coach for the Bluffton University Softball Program under the direction of Head Coach Heather Bruder. Stephenson, a 2010 graduate, was a four-year letter-winner for the NCAA Division III Bluffton University softball team. Brooke earned All-HCAC academic accolades each year at Bluffton. She was named First Team All-Heartland Conference as a pitcher in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Stephenson, a two-year captain, helped the team make four consecutive trips to the HCAC tournament while also establishing a school single-season record of 30 wins in 2009. She finished her superb career at Bluffton ranked in the top five for all major pitching categories. She is second all-time in wins (43), appearances (98), games started (74), innings pitched (483.2) and strikeouts (401). Babcock is also second with just 1.82 walks per seven innings.
A Findlay High School graduate, Stephenson earned her Bachelor of Arts at Bluffton University with a business major and accounting minor. She has volunteer coaching experience with several teams in the Findlay area in both softball and basketball. Stephenson completed her Masters of Business Administration while at Bluffton. "I am excited to have the opportunity to return to Bluffton, a place that I loved playing, and give back to the school and softball program as a coach," Stephenson quipped.
Stephenson, who recently married former Bluffton University baseball standout Tyler Stephenson, currently lives in Findlay, Ohio, where she is employed by Marathon Petroleum.