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Penn softball's newest assistant coach Christina Biggerstaff (right) (Photo from Penn Athletics).

Last season, Penn softball finished second to last in the Ivy League when it came to both batting and pitching. Earlier this offseason, one of those issues was addressed with the hire of the program’s new head coach Christie Novatin, who has seen offensive success at every program she has worked at.

Now, the team is addressing the other half of its on-the-field problems with someone who fits right in with Novatin’s vision. Last month, Novatin announced the hiring of Christina Biggerstaff as an assistant coach. Biggerstaff’s area of expertise: Pitching. 

One phrase that has continuously been used to describe Biggerstaff has been an “ultra competitor," emphasizing her ability to compete at the highest levels at every stage in her career. 

As a freshman in the Circle at Georgia Tech, Biggerstaff played in 28 games, starting in 12 of them and completing six. Biggerstaff made her presence known immediately that season as a bona fide pitching guru, throwing two no-hitters on back-to-back days against Mount St. Mary’s and Savannah State. After transferring to Oklahoma State, Biggerstaff would continue her legacy of success, going 3-0 in 17 appearances and five starts en route to being named to the Big 12 All-Academic Team. 

Biggerstaff would save her best work for her last two collegiate years at the University of South Carolina, Upstate. As a junior, she limited opponents to a formidable .184 batting average and led the conference in strikeouts, earning herself a spot on the second-team ASUN All-Conference and ASUN All-Tournament Team. In her senior season, Biggerstaff was named the Big South Pitcher of the Year after a season that saw her throw three no-hitters — one of which was a perfect game — and complete 77% of her starts. 

From there, Biggerstaff signed a contract to continue her playing career in Amsterdam with the Golden League's Hoofddorp Pioneers. In her sole season with the team, she led in strikeouts, wins, and ERA. 

“I always like to make this joke that softball is the love of my life, but pitching is my soulmate,” said Biggerstaff. “I genuinely love pitching. I just love the control of the game. I loved being on the mound and being competitive and having an alter ego … and just, you know, competing to win.”

Simply put, Biggerstaff knows what it takes to succeed as a pitcher. However, being a good player doesn’t necessarily translate to being a good coach. On the professional level, all-time greats such as Wayne Gretzky and Diego Maradona have flopped in their attempts at coaching. Fortunately for the Quakers, Biggerstaff has demonstrated that she has the inclination and characteristics needed to help players reach their full potential. 

Biggerstaff credits her success to her mentor Charlotte Morgan, the pitching coach at Oklahoma State during her year there. The transition from high school to college softball was not the smoothest, but Morgan always went out of her way to make sure that Biggerstaff was doing okay, both on and off the field. This has been a trait that Biggerstaff herself has continued to emulate in her time as a coach.

“I made a promise when I first started coaching that I would always coach my kids the way that I would want to be treated,” Biggerstaff emphasized. “I've hopefully kept that promise, but that was something that was really important to me when I started coaching.”

After briefly serving as the pitching coach at Charleston Southern University, Biggerstaff decided to start her own business, creating Margaret Biggerstaff Memorial Pitching. As the name suggests, the business was named in honor of her mom, who had died shortly before its founding. Her mom was the reason Biggerstaff first started playing softball, and was always supportive of her dreams. Biggerstaff turned her grief into fuel by spreading her knowledge about the art of pitching that had connected her and her mom so tightly.

“I wanted to honor her even after death,” Biggerstaff said. “Because she was such a big part of why I am here and where I am today.”

Since the company’s founding, Biggerstaff has amassed a solid following on TikTok covering many of the fundamental skills needed to become a better pitcher. Biggerstaff’s intimate knowledge of everything pitching-related, combined with her focus on the basics, made her the perfect candidate for the culture Novatin is looking to foster. 

“[Biggerstaff] played at a really high level and not only completed a high level, but was really good at a high level,” said Novatin. “She’s also really passionate about creating the mindset behind the pitching — not just throwing pitches, but how you can connect your mind to help you be a better competitor. I think it's going to be a huge asset for our pitchers because of her confidence in them and what they're capable of doing.”

Biggerstaff brings a levelheaded approach to coaching, serving as a compliment to the more energetic natures of Novatin and assistant coach Kristin Hallam. One of her major goals this season with the Quakers is to build the confidence of players on the team. Coming off of a rough season can really damage a team’s morale. So first up on her list of priorities is to make sure that the players know that she believes in them and is excited to see their growth. 

“I'm really excited to see all their hard work kind of come to fruition,” said Biggerstaff. “We've worked really hard all off season and it's gonna be cool to watch them compete. As a team, we've come a long way from the beginning as well. At the end of the day softball is a game and it's supposed to be fun. So it's been really cool to watch that too.”