SPOKANE, Wash. -- Bob Castle, a former Whitworth assistant softball coach and a former Assistant Athletics Director, will take over as interim head softball coach through the completion of the 2020 schedule, according to Tim Demant, Whitworth's Director of Athletics. Jamie Bruner, a former Pirate player and All-NWC honoree, will also continue as an assistant coach.
"We are excited to have people of the caliber of Bob Castle and Jamie Brunner who are willing and able to step into this leadership role on short notice and guide our team into this season," Demant said. "They desire to impact the lives of our student-athletes, which is so much a part of the mission and vision of Whitworth University and our athletics department. They also possess the experience and expertise to continue our pursuit of championships."
Castle was an assistant coach for previous head coach Cristal Brown from 2015 through 2018. During that time he was part of three consecutive Northwest Conference titles (2015, 2016, 2017). Castle also worked as a softball umpire for 14 years, including 11 years at the collegiate level. He umpired games in the Big Sky Conference, Western Athletic Conference and Pac-12.
"Cristal Brown and (former assistant) Randy Clark laid a foundation for Whitworth Softball and then built a winning program," Castle said. "Not just on the field, but off the field. It was a privilege for me to be a part of the championship years and I know that through me that legacy will be a part of this program as we move forward."
Despite the sudden coaching transition, the outlook for the Whitworth softball team is very positive with the return of several key starters in 2020, including 2019 NWC Freshman of the Year and NWC Co-Pitcher of the Year Drea Schwaier-Wolf. Madelyn Carlson (P), Maddy Thomas (C), Rheanne Lewis (1B) and Sara Gayer (SS) are all returning starters who earned second team All-NWC recognition in 2019.
"I am very familiar with this team and know the cupboards are full and I am blessed to have the opportunity to lead this transition," Castle said. "I believe that it is a great challenge to maintain continuity, extend a winning tradition and develop the student athletes to be successful in this game and through this game. We all believe in the core purpose and values that remain the foundation of Whitworth Softball."
Castle has served as the general manager of the Kalispel Golf and Country Club since May 2016. He had previously been Whitworth's Assistant A.D. for corporate partnerships and sponsorships and served as the radio voice of Pirate football and basketball for 18 years.
Bruner, who served as a graduate assistant for Whitworth softball in 2018 and 2019 will take on the role of primary assistant coach in 2020. Bruner graduated as Whitworth's all-time leader in career hits (168), runs (121) and doubles (42) in 2013 and was a three-time All-NWC honoree from 2011 through 2013.
"Coach Brunner is in our softball record books for a reason," Castle said. "She has a passion for this game, this university and these kids. I officiated her games when she was a player and coached alongside her. She provides stability for the program, as well as for me."