No Longer Rookies

Baseball and softball coaches look ahead after their first seasons at UTA

Clay Van Hook and Kara Dill
Left: Clay Van Hook, Right: Kara Dill


Two first-year head coaches led the 2023 baseball and softball seasons, but they brought with them coaching prowess honed as assistant coaches in the College World Series arena.

Head baseball coach Clay Van Hook, who joined UTA from the highly touted Oklahoma Sooners program, led the team to double its win total, including snagging a win over Texas Christian University, which went to all the way to the College World Series semifinals.

“We’re returning our most consistent pitcher in Matt Novis and we’ll look to elevate his role a bit, plus we have great hitters back, like Ryan Black, and new players to be excited about,” he says. “We need to put our head down, get to work, trust the players and have them trust us, just as we did last year. It’s terrific to be playing more Power Five competition this year—let’s build upon what we did.”

UT Arlington softball gave head coach Kara Dill a particularly sweet win in 2023 when they took down the formidable Kentucky Wildcats, ranked No. 16 in the country at the time.

“I was once a volunteer coach there also and learned so much from my experiences,” she says. “I have a baseball from that victory in my office. It’s encouraging for next year.”

UTA rallied late to make the conference tournament and even knocked off the favored Stephen F. Austin in the opening tourney game. Dill can’t wait to see what the team’s returning players can do, including Marley Neises, who sported a .382 batting average as a first-year player.

“We had our share of moments last year,” Dill says. “Now is the time to put it together that much more.”

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