Softball: Drohan sisters dominate the world of collegiate softball


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Coach Caryl Drohan scans the field. Caryl Drohan and head coach Kate Drohan led the way for Northwestern’s epic 2022 season. The duo returns as the head and associate coaches for the Wildcats this spring.

Paloma Leone-Getten, Leah Schroeder, Reporters

Kate and Caryl Drohan have started softball seasons together since childhood. However, after they led Northwestern softball to its first College World Series in 15 years, this season will be among their most anticipated.

Since 2002, the Drohan twins have coached together at NU, with head coach Kate Drohan starting in 1998 and hiring her sister, associate head coach Caryl Drohan, in 2002. The dynamic duo leads the Wildcats in all-time softball wins, having tallied more than 640 career wins with NU. After a historic last season, the team enters 2023 ranked seventh in preseason softball rankings.

The sisters got their first taste of collegiate softball as teammates at Providence College. After graduation, Caryl Drohan remained with Providence as an assistant coach and Kate Drohan became the assistant coach at Boston College. 

Kate Drohan made her debut with the Cats as an assistant coach to Sharon Drysdale. In 2000, she climbed the ranks to become the associate head coach; just a year later, she was named head coach. 

After her time at Providence, Caryl Drohan went on to coach at Hofstra University for five years before Kate Drohan hired her as an assistant, marking the start of the Drohan era. She has spearheaded NU’s offense since then, coaching several players to batting titles, All-American status and Big Ten Player of the Year honors.  

Players have reported that the Drohan sisters have a strong connection — so strong, in fact, that it is like they can read each other’s minds. While the two still have coaching disagreements, as Kate Drohan told CBS Chicago in 2019, “It is really healthy … to be challenged in that way and I am grateful for it.” 

The powerful pair has amassed three Big Ten championships, appeared in twelve NCAA tournaments and qualified for three College World Series. In 2019, the twins were also responsible for the Cats’ longest win streak since 1985, with 20 straight games won. Kate Drohan has been named the Big Ten Coach of the Year four times.

Four games into the preseason, the Cats now sit at a 2-2 record, with a notable victory against No. 6 Texas. NU is set to begin the ACC/Big Ten Challenge with two matches apiece against Clemson and Notre Dame, and one against Florida A&M, this weekend. 

As the only Big Ten team to make the top 25 Division I softball preseason rankings, along with being led by the Drohans and the highly decorated returning battery of pitcher Danielle Williams and catcher Jordyn Rudd, NU looks ahead to a promising season.

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Twitter: @pleonegetten, @lmschroeder

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