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Iowa has found its next softball coach.

The Hawkeyes Friday announced the hiring of Renee Gillispie as the fifth coach in program history. Most recently, Gillispie had been the coach at Central Florida for 18 years, compiling a 625-403-1 record with five conference championships and seven regional appearances.

"I am honored to return to the state of Iowa as the head softball coach at the University of Iowa," Gillispie said in a school release. "Having the opportunity to take over this program and return it to the championship culture it once had excites me.

"There is a rich tradition of talent in the state of Iowa. Being one of those players, I know how special it was to have the University of Iowa show interest in you. For me, it is being able to recruit these players and get them excited about Iowa, competing for Big Ten championships, and the ultimate goal of returning to the World Series. I can't wait to hit the ground running and to Win, Graduate, and Do It Right."

Gillispie brings Iowa ties with her. She is a Danville native and played collegiately at Kirkwood, as well as West Texas A&M University.

In 2014 and 2015, Gillispie's staff was named the American Athletic Conference’s coaching staff of the year, The Knights set a school record with 50 wins in 2015.

Gillispie is no stranger to rebuild jobs either, which is what she’ll have to tackle at Iowa after Marla Looper resigned last month following eight lackluster seasons (172-247-1 record).

Gillispie led Texas Tech for four years (1996-99) prior to UCF, guiding the Red Raiders to national rankings in 1998 and 1999. She also rebuilt the softball program at Bradley (1993-95), taking the Braves from 12-25 in 1992 to 33-8 in 1994.

Her head coaching career began with another turnaround as well. Gillispie led Joliet Junior College (1991-92) for two seasons, bringing the school from 2-29 in 1991 and to 32-12 in 1992.

“The Hawkeye family and Iowa softball took a huge step forward today," Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said in the release. “Renee Gillispie has proven she can Win, Graduate, and Do It Right.  It is great to have coach Gillispie on the team.”  

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for The Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

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