Sernek to head Ram softball program
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Softball - Wed, May 31, 2017

MOUNT VERNON – Cornell College has named one its all-time pitching greats Jackie Sernek as new head softball coach, it was announced Wednesday by Interim Director of Athletics Jeff Meeker.

Sernek takes the torch from the program's winningest coach in Shanda Ness, who closed an unparalleled 11-year run with seven consecutive 20-win seasons. Sernek played four seasons for Ness and was a key cog on Cornell's first NCAA Division III Tournament team in 2013.

"This is truly an honor and very exciting for the Cornell community to welcome me back as the next head softball coach," said Sernek, a 2014 Cornell graduate. "I hope to do the program justice and continue its success. We have the talent and the means to keep it going."

"It's an ideal situation for any coach to have a former player take over the program when you leave," said Ness, the new director of athletics at Thomas College in Waterville, Maine. "I know Jackie is passionate about Cornell Softball and am confident the program is in good hands. I am excited for Jackie to take the reins."

The Rams are coming off their second-winningest season in school history, going 28-10 and advancing to the championship game of the Midwest Conference Tournament. They finished second in the MWC regular-season race at 14-4.

"One of my goals is to take the conference title. To experience it here (in 2013), I want to be part of another," Sernek said. "I enjoyed the unique experience at Cornell with the block plan and not having to sacrifice academics or athletics. I loved the sense of family and community here. It's pretty cool to be back."

"We are thrilled to have Jackie return to Cornell to take over our softball program," Meeker said. "Her knowledge of Cornell and desire to positively shape our student-athletes' experiences make her a great fit for our department."

Sernek, a native of Chicago, Ill., spent this past season as pitching coach at NCAA Division I Hampton University. The Pirates won the Northern Division of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) with a 17-1 record. Sernek's staff featured an all-MEAC pitcher on a team that finished 23-22 overall.   

Prior to landing in Hampton, Va., Sernek was a graduate assistant during the 2016 campaign at Division I Eastern Illinois University. She served as pitching coach there, working with a first team all-Ohio Valley Conference pitcher and helping the Panthers earn the No. 2 seed in the OVC Tournament.

Sernek was an assistant at Lake Land College (Mattoon, Ill.) in 2015. The Lakers finished that season 53-10, rolled through the Great Rivers Athletic Conference at 18-0 and took runner-up at NJCAA regionals.  

Sernek has been head coach of Premier Fastpitch Girls Club Softball, based in Gays, Ill., since August 2014.

Sernek earned a bachelor's degree from Cornell in kinesiology. She added a master's in kinesiology and sport studies, with an emphasis in sports administration, from Eastern Illinois in May 2016. 

Sernek had an accomplished playing career at Cornell, twice collecting first team all-MWC honors (2013, 2014). She was tabbed 2013 MWC South Division Pitcher of the Year, and also landed on the Pella Regional All-Tournament Team that season.

Sernek was part of history in 2013 when the Rams captured their first MWC Tournament title and received an NCAA berth. Cornell won 92 games during Sernek's time on the Hilltop. As a senior, she was selected Cornell's Sportswoman of the Year. 

Sernek holds Cornell pitching records for shutouts in a season (7 in 2013) and career (15). She ranks second on the program's career list for strikeouts (321) and lowest opponent batting average (.230). Sernek made 73 appearances in the pitching circle, fashioning a 37-13 record and 1.95 ERA in 373.2 innings.