LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Bucknell director of athletics and recreation John Hardt announced today that Courtnay Foster will be the next head coach of the Bison softball team. Foster comes to Lewisburg after a five-year stint as an assistant coach at Northwestern, where she was also an outstanding pitcher during her playing career from 2003-06.

"I am excited to welcome Courtnay Foster to the Bison Athletics family," said Hardt. "Courtnay has spent the last five years coaching high-caliber student-athletes in a nationally-ranked Big Ten program. Northwestern is an institution that prioritizes the scholar-athlete model, just as we do here at Bucknell, and Courtnay has been very successful recruiting and mentoring student-athletes in that rigorous environment. She was also a standout performer herself, having earned All-America honors as a pitcher at Northwestern. The Bucknell softball team has contended for Patriot League championships in recent years, and I am confident that under Courtnay's leadership, the program will continue its success."

“It is with great excitement that I join the Bison community,” said Foster. “I am honored and eager to have the opportunity to join a department that is as committed and passionate about the student-athlete experience as Bucknell. I am truly grateful to Northwestern athletics, in particular my mentor, Kate Drohan, and department leader Dr. Jim Phillips for allowing me to develop as a coach and colleague as I prepare for my next endeavor as a head coach. I would also like to express my appreciation for John Hardt and the hiring committee at Bucknell for their generosity in this process. I couldn’t be more proud to be joining the Bison family and sharing the experience of the bright young women at Bucknell.”

Northwestern has been a model of consistency during Foster’s five years with the program, qualifying for the NCAA Regional Tournament three times and never finishing below .500 despite going against some of the top competition in the country. The Wildcats finished 28-23 last season and received an at-large berth to the NCAA Regional due in large part to having the second-toughest non-conference schedule in the nation. They also made NCAA Tournament appearances in 2012 and 2014.

Foster played a key role in the development of two of the Big Ten’s top pitchers over the past five seasons. Kristen Wood led the conference in strikeouts and ranked in the top 20 nationally in strikeouts per seven innings in 2014, while Amy Letourneau did the same in 2013. Foster’s role at Northwestern wasn’t limited to pitching instruction, as she also spent time on the recruiting trail. She helped the Wildcats tie a school record with five All-Region selections in 2015, just one year after the team had six honorees in 2014.

A communication studies major, Foster earned her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern in 2006. She was one of the best pitchers in school history, compiling an 80-37 record with a 1.49 ERA and 1,014 strikeouts during an impressive career that was highlighted by an All-America selection in 2005. She finished her collegiate career on a high note, leading the Wildcats to the College World Series, where she struck out 13 batters in 4.2 innings of relief to earn the win against Alabama in the opening round. She wrapped up her career as a three-time All-Big Ten and Academic All-Big Ten selection and added two NFCA All-Mideast Region honors.

Following her playing career, Foster was drafted by the Philadelphia Force of National Professional Fastpitch in 2006. She instead went on to work one year at Northwestern as a volunteer assistant before playing semi-professional softball in Italy in 2009.

Foster joins a Bucknell team that set a program record with 35 wins last season, including a 12-6 mark in the Patriot League and a second-place finish in the regular season standings. The Bison have reached the championship game of the Patriot League Tournament in each of the past two seasons.