After serving four years as an assistant for a championship program and following a playing career as an NJCAA All-American, Kristin Chaney is well-prepared to serve as head coach of East Central Community College's fast-pitch softball team.

Chaney officially began her tenure Tuesday when the Lady Warriors hosted Baton Rouge (La.) Community College.

The Little Rock native said she has wanted a career in athletics since she was a young athlete, and being a head coach is a "dream come true."

"I am excited about being the head coach here at East Central," Chaney said. "It has always been a goal of mine to become a head coach and the challenge is now here.

"Athletics is something that has always been part of my life since I was born; whether I was at the ball field watching my brothers or playing myself. I guess it was in my blood; my dad was a coach and now both my brothers are coaches. I just love sports and watching sports."

Chaney takes over a program led since 2003 by Scott Hill who amassed an overall 308-123-1 record. Hill and Chaney took the program to new heights by capturing a first-ever Region 23 Tournament title in 2010 followed by a first MACJC State Championship in 2011.

She was also part of a winning program as a player, as she helped lead the 2004 and 2005 Lady Warrior softball squads to MACJC Central Division titles en route to overall records of 26-14 and 34-5, respectively. She also garnered NJCAA All-American, All-Region 23, and MACJC All-State and All-Division honors in the process.

Despite the success she achieved as a player and coach,

Although she stopped short of predicting a championship for the 2013 Lady Warriors, Chaney said she is "excited" about this year's squad, especially following a successful fall campaign.

"We went 5-0 in the fall but most importantly I saw us get better from game one to game five," said Chaney. "We started practice one working on fundamentals and I feel like when week six practice was over, we were not taking baby steps anymore...we were doing what we needed to do and getting our best reps in. Fall was a good evaluation helping me know who needs to be put in certain situations and the adjustments that we need to make during the game. Fall competition was not only for the team but it was for me also being a first-year head coach, as I got to learn some game management that I will use in the spring."

"This team has worked hard day in and day out," she said. "They have bought in to my philosophy and what I expect every day. I have told them we might not have the most talented team but nobody will out work us, and ultimately our hard work will catch up with the other team's talent. We have a lot of depth that we have not had in past years and the players know that the starting roles are wide open and that they have to bring their best every day to get that starting role or keep that starting role."

And what type team can fans expect this season?

"Our fans should expect a team that is scrappy and plays hard game in and game out," she said. "We will be very aggressive and take chances, but at the same time play the game the way it should be played. We will use 'small ball' when needed and use our speed to make things happen."

Sophomore team members and their respective high schools include pitchers Mary Sanders of Adams Christian Academy and Tenna Patterson of Lexington (Ala.); infielders LaJoya Griffin of Philadelphia and Dakota Vowell of Neshoba Central; and outfielders Marlee Massey and AJ Peeler, both of Neshoba Central

Freshmen players and their respective high schools include infielder/pitcher Amber McBroom, Brandon; infielders Kaylin Hopkins of Louisville, Lindsey Beard of Clarkdale, Malauri Robinson of Enterprise, Ty Buckley of Neshoba Central and Hayley Stevens of Union; utility player Laken Fulcher of Nanih Waiya; and outfielders Casey Cherry of Union, Kristen Chipley of Leake Academy and Morgan Porter of Enterprise.

Student assistants include Jordan Clearman, Eden McGee and Katherine Upchurch, all of Neshoba Central, and Sam Evans of Union.

Serving her first year as assistant coach is Courtney Nunn, a former standout pitcher at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba and Mississippi College.

Nunn's responsibilities include working with pitchers and outfielders. She will also call pitches during the game and make in-game adjustments when needed.

Chaney said Nunn's experience and knowledge is a big asset to the Lady Warrior program.

"Coach Nunn's pitching knowledge has helped me tremendously," Chaney said. "When I was hired, I wanted to find someone to take over pitching and run with it. I feel like she has done a good job of communicating with these young ladies and helping them understand me and what it takes to get to the next level. I am pleased to have her and know she will do a great job and preparing our pitchers for opening day and throughout the season."

Chaney said she is also appreciative of the various improvements made to the softball complex.

For more information on ECCC's fast-pitch softball program, contact Coach Kristin Chaney, 601-635-6301 or call toll free, 877-462-3222, ext. 301.