HAMMOND, Ind., & WESTVILLE, Ind. — Purdue University Northwest has announced that head softball coach Ritchie Richardson has resigned, effective immediately.

The NAIA Hall of Fame coach leaves the Pride after one season to take the same position at his alma mater, Lincoln Memorial University, an NCAA Division II school located in Harrogate, Tenn.

“I want to thank Ritchie for his service here at Purdue Northwest,” PNW Athletic Director Rick Costello said. “He was able to build the foundations for the Pride in his first year, achieve success in the form of 29 wins in addition to numerous athletic and academic awards, and lead the Pride back to the conference tournament.

“Coach Richardson will be missed.”

Richardson directed the Pride to 29 wins in 2017, as PNW went 29-23-1 overall and placed fourth in the overall Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings with a 15-9 record. PNW defeated fifth-seeded St. Ambrose in the CCAC Tournament opener before falling to eventual champion St. Francis (Ill.) and semifinalist Cardinal Stritch.

Under his leadership, the Pride had four players named all-conference selections, three selected as the CCAC Player of the Week, two NAIA Scholar-Athletes, one CoSIDA Academic All-District selection and one NAIA National Pitcher of the Week.

“I want to thank Rick Costello for the opportunity to coach such a great group of student-athletes here at PNW,” Richardson said. “The chance to coach at my alma mater and be closer to my family was too great to pass up, and I wish Purdue Northwest nothing but the best moving forward.”

Richardson is currently the second winningest coach in NAIA softball history with 946 career victories. He spent 20 seasons at the helm of the Olivet Nazarene program, where he compiled a 917-316-1 overall mark which included 11 CCAC regular-season titles, 12 CCAC tournament championships, and 10 NAIA National Tournament appearances.

His accolades include an impressive 12 CCAC Coach of the Year honors, 10 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year awards, and five NAIA Region Coach of the Year accolades. In addition, Richardson coached 29 NAIA All-Americans and one NAIA Player of the Year and 42 NAIA and NFCA Scholar-Athletes. Richardson was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2016.

A nationwide search for Richardson’s replacement will begin immediately.