Mike Perniciaro is in his first season as the head coach for Indiana State Softball after being handed the reins by ISU Director of Athletics Sherard Clinkscales on June 19, 2017.
“Mike comes to us with a wealth of experience in building programs that compete for NCAA championships while simultaneously building a culture that fosters the growth and development of our student-athletes,” Clinkscales said. “We are excited to welcome Mike, his wife, Shannon, and their two children into the Sycamore family and Terre Haute community. I would also like to commend the efforts of our search committee, especially the efforts of (senior associate AD) Angie Lansing and (softball sport supervisor/facilities & operations manager) Dennis Darke in putting together a deep and talented candidate pool.”
Perniciaro (pronounced pern-uh-CHAIR-oh) comes to Terre Haute with two decades of coaching experience at the Division I level, including a six-year head coaching stint at Wichita State and one season in charge of the program at Northwestern State.
“I am thrilled to be joining the Sycamore family,” Perniciaro said. “I want to thank Sherard Clinkscales, Angie Lansing and Dennis Darke for their support and trust in me to lead the program. I look forward to making the Indiana State Softball team competitive in the Valley and on a national level.”
Most recently, Perniciaro – who is colloquially known as “Coach Pooch” to student-athletes and colleagues alike – was on staff at Indiana from 2015-17, working primarily with hitting and the outfield, as well as assisting with recruiting. During the 2017 season, senior CaraMia Tsirigos (8) and Taylor Uden (7) each set career highs in home runs. In addition, Tsirigos finished her IU career tied for fifth in program history with 25 homers. IU hit the fourth-most doubles in school history in 2017 with 71, while also drawing the fifth-most walks with 165.
In 2016, the Hoosiers saw the highest overall win total (29) and Big Ten victory total (10) since 2012 while also shutting out Wisconsin to earn their first win in the Big Ten Tournament since 2006. Additionally, two players earned Second Team All-Big Ten accolades in sophomore Rebecca Blitz and redshirt senior Shannon Cawley. IU ended the season ranking fourth all-time in program history with 210 RBI and third with 174 walks.
Perniciaro made an immediate impact during his first season with the Hoosiers in 2015, destroying an IU school record with 51 round-trippers – blowing past the previous record of 40 home runs set in 2006. IU’s hitters also finished the season second in Hoosier history in runs scored (282), RBI (252) and walks (193). Freshman Rebecca Blitz, who plated 41 runs on 59 hits, became the first freshman to pick up NFCA All-Region honors since 1995 as she was named to the Second Team. In addition, the Hoosiers combined for a .288 batting average, which sits at fourth-all time for a single season in Indiana history, and was up from .250 in 2014.
Prior to his stop in Bloomington, Perniciaro served three seasons as the associate head coach at Ole Miss. In his three seasons in Oxford, Perniciaro coached 32 letterwinners and led the Rebels to school records in hits (396), walks (150) and stolen bases (79).
In his second year at Ole Miss, the Rebels set a program record with a .979 fielding percentage – which was the fifth-best in the country in 2013. The Rebels' offense scored 20 more runs than they did the previous year, hit five more doubles, two more triples, 11 more home runs and 16 more RBI.
In his first year at Ole Miss, Perniciaro helped coach then-sophomore RT Cantillo into an All-SEC Second Team outfielder. At the plate, Ole Miss recorded 73 more runs than they did in 2011, 48 more hits, eight more home runs and 88 more total bases while increasing its overall team average by .030.
Perniciaro’s last stint as a head coach was at Wichita State from 2006-11, where he led the program to 168 wins while mentoring 13 All-MVC honorees. While leading the Shockers, Perniciaro coached several impressive student-athletes, including four-time All-MVC member and WSU career hit leader Britnee Barnett (249), MVC single-season strikeout leader Ashly Bright (366 K’s in 2010), and Ashley Lynn, Wichita’s career leader in home runs, RBI and total bases.
His teams also excelled in the classroom, as Wichita players earned four CoSIDA Academic All-District honors in his time as head coach while also earning six academic all-conference accolades.
Perniciaro came to Wichita following a one-year stay at Northwestern State as head coach during the 2005 season, his first season in charge of a program. That year, the Lady Demons hit .295 as a team en route to a 35-28 record. The squad also hit 49 home runs and scored 4.7 runs per game, while also breaking several offensive records. Five players from that team received all-Southland Conference honors and three players were named to the SLC All-Academic Team, the most of any Southland Conference school.
Prior to his time at Northwestern State, Perniciaro spent six seasons as assistant coach and hitting coach at Auburn. While at Auburn, Perniciaro helped lead the Tigers to their first-ever top-25 ranking (ranking as high as No. 12 in 2004), as well as appearances in the 2002 and 2004 NCAA Tournament.
During his tenure with the Tigers, Auburn ranked near the top of the SEC in home runs and doubles and led the conference in home runs in 2001 and 2002. In addition to responsibilities with the hitters, Perniciaro also had duties coaching the outfielders, as well as serving as the program's recruiting coordinator. He was also a member of the 2002 SEC Coaching Staff of the Year that was also honored by the NFCA as the South Region Coaching Staff of the Year.
Auburn wasn’t Perniciaro’s first stop in the SEC, though, as he was part of the first-ever coaching staff at Georgia for two seasons in 1997-98. Perniciaro was instrumental in the start-up of the program, helping coach the Bulldogs to their first-ever winning season in 1998.
Perniciaro began his coaching career at Centenary in 1995-97, coaching the outfielders and assisting with hitting while also overseeing the weight and conditioning program.
Perniciaro is a 1993 graduate of Missouri-St. Louis with a bachelor’s in exercise science, as well as a 1995 graduate of Western Illinois with a master’s in sports management.
He and his wife, Shannon, have two children: Nicholas and Alexander.