When Karen Johns went looking for a pitching coach, she needed to look no further than Florida's instate rival to the north. With Florida State coming off a College World Series experience and their senior ace being named to the All-College World Series team, the time seemed right for Heather Butler to move on to a new challenge. That move just happened to be to Gainesville.
Butler is the perfect fit for Florida Softball. She has a wealth of experience both as a player and as a coach. She played for one of the nation's premier programs and in just three years, drastically improved Florida State's pitching staff.
In her first two seasons, Butler has improved the pitchers ERA from 3.08 in 2002, to 1.82 in 2003, to 1.78 in 2004. In 2004, Florida's pitchers held opponent batters to just a .209 average, the lowest since the 2000 season. The Gators also set the school record for strikeouts per game, averaging 7.33 strikeouts a game, almost a strikeout per game more than in 2003. The Gator pitchers struck out a school record 440 batters in 420 innings, while only giving up 120 walks, nearly a 4-to-1 strikeouts to walks ratio. Freshman Stacey Stevens broke the freshman record for strikeouts in a season by over 40 Ks under Butler's tutelage.
Butler has experience in nearly every level of softball. She has been to the College World Series a total of five times, both as a player and a coach. She has also played internationally both with USA Softball and in professional leagues.
Butler is a 1994 graduate of UCLA, where she was a four-year letterwinner for the Bruins softball team. She led the team to four College World Series appearances and helped UCLA win national championships in 1990 and 1992. She earned first team All-America honors in 1991 and was also named to the All-College World Series team as a pitcher. She still ranks in UCLA's top ten in five different pitching categories and finished her career with a 0.52 ERA.
After graduating from UCLA with a degree in political science, Butler played for the USA National team that took the gold medal in the 1994 Pan-American games. She went on to play internationally for Poneke Kilbernic Softball Club in New Zealand from 1994-96 and in 1996 played for the Brioski Junior Softball Team in the Italian Pro League. That season she posted the best record in the league.
Following her success on the international level, Butler had a successful season for the Ohio Pride of the Women's Professional Softball League in 2000. She earned WPSL Pitcher of the Week honors three times and set a league record for striking out 17 batters in a game. She was rewarded for her play by being named to the WPSL All-Star team.
Butler joined the Florida State staff in 1999. In 2001, under Butler's tutelage the Seminole pitching staff earned the NCAA ERA title with a low 0.71 team ERA. It was the lowest team ERA in eight years. In 2002 Butler's pitchers helped lead the Seminoles to the College World Series and defeated top-ranked UCLA in an impressive first-round extra-inning win on the way to Florida State's best post-season run ever. Seminole ace Leslie Malerich was named to the All-College World Series team.
The former Heather Compton married Chris Butler on January 4, 2003. The couple has a son Aiden Christopher, who turned a year old on September 25. Chris was deployed to Iraq with the United States Army Reserves in February 2004. He is still currently in Iraq, but is expected to return to the States this spring.
The Butler File
Birthdate: December 10, 1970
Education: Bachelors of Science in Political Science, UCLA, 1994
Hometown: Santa Maria, Calif.
1990-94 - Pitcher, UCLA
- Four-year letter winner
- Four Women's College World Series appearances
- 1990 National Champion
- 1991 All-WCWS team
- 1992 National Champion
- Ranks among UCLA's career leaders in wins, appearances, strikeouts, innings pitched and ERA
1994 - USA National team
- Gold Medal, 1994 Pan American games
1994-96 - Poneke Kilbernic Softball Club, New Zealand
1996 - Brioski Junior Softball Team, Italian Pro Softball League
2000 - Ohio Pride, Women's Professional Fast Pitch League
- Three-time WPSL AT&T Wireless Services Pitcher of the Week
- Set record for strikeouts in a single game with 17
1995-99 - Social Studies/special education teacher, Righetti High School, Santa Maria, Calif.
1999-2002 - Assistant Softball Coach, Florida State University
- 2001 Team ERA title
- 2002 NCAA Women's College World Series
- Three-time NCAA Regional qualifiers