Mandy Gardner just completed her first season as an assistant coach with the Iowa softball program. She works primarily as the pitching coach.
In 2023, the Hawkeye’s finished 35-27, and 10-13 in Big Ten play. Their 35 wins is the most in a season since 2009.
Iowa made its first conference tournament appearance since 2019. The Hawkeyes accepted an invite to the National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC) in Fort Collins, Colo. They went 4-0 on their way to the NISC championship title.
Under Gardner’s direction, the Hawkeye pitching staff ERA dropped 2.46 points from 2022 to 2023. Three pitchers had sub-three ERAs led by freshman Jalen Adams who finished with a 2.02 which was fourth in the Big Ten.
Senior Breanna Vasquez and Adams both had double digit wins and ranked in the top-10 for batting average against in the conference. Vasquez ranked ninth in the Big Ten for strikeouts with 136.
Gardner joined the Hawkeyes after a stint as an assistant coach at UC San Diego. In the 2022 season, she helped the Tritons’ pitching staff lead the Big West Conference in strikeouts and was second in ERA. Gardner coached two pitchers to Big West All-Conference team honors in her one year at UCSD. One of those pitchers being Jada Cecil, who was named the conference’s Pitcher of the Year and was a Top 10 Finalist for Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I Freshman of the Year after winning 20 games and posting a 1.88 ERA in her rookie season.
Gardner joined the UCSD staff after spending six years at Grand Canyon University (GCU) as both a graduate assistant and a full-time assistant.
In her three years as assistant coach, she served as the pitching coach for the Lopes. In her first season as an assistant, Gardner led the GCU pitching staff to a 1.85 ERA during conference play, which led the WAC. During her tenure as the GCU pitching coach, Gardner had four pitchers named to all-WAC teams.
During her GCU tenure, Gardner coached a pitching staff with a nationally ranked staff ERA for multiple years and coached pitchers who had top 5 career and season statistics in earned run average, batting average against, shutouts, career wins, and strikeouts. She also coached the WAC Preseason Pitcher of the Year in 2020 and 2021.
Prior to being named assistant coach in June 2018 at GCU, Gardner served as a graduate assistant for three seasons (2016-18), assisting the coaching staff in off-field operations as well as practices and game day operations.
Gardner joined the Lopes after a Division I playing career that included a two-year stay at Michigan, where she was a two-time Big Ten Champion, and three years at Maryland in the ACC/Big Ten. She was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a volunteer for the Special Olympics while pursuing her undergraduate degree.
Gardner earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Maryland in 2015 and she received her master’s in special education from Grand Canyon in 2018.
Gardner also has familial history at Iowa – her grandfather, former college basketball coach Joedy Gardner, was on the Iowa men’s basketball staff in the ‘80s. He spent two seasons as an assistant under head coach George Raveling (84-85).