First year East Central Community College head softball coach Eric Neel and assistant coach Emily Church have been named the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II South Region Coaching Staff of the Year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

Neel and Church led the ECCC Lady Warriors to a 28-14 record, including 21-7 in Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges league play. East Central compiled a 13-game winning streak in April and finished the regular season ranked No. 14 in the NJCAA Division II Top 20.



The Lady Warriors, with only one sophomore and 14 freshmen on the roster, finished fourth in the 15-team MACJC league and qualified for the 2019 MACJC State Tournament.

“Coach Neel and Coach Church did an outstanding job of molding this group of almost entirely freshmen into one of the best teams in the state and country by the midpoint of the season, said Paul Nixon, ECCC’s director of athletics. “The team took some lumps early, playing mostly NCAA Division I programs in the fall and several NJCAA Division I schools in the preseason, but with the guidance and leadership from the coaches, the student-athletes came together and played some truly outstanding softball. Seeing firsthand how hard Coach Neel and Coach Church worked this past school year, it is gratifying to see them recognized by their coaches association for the team’s achievements this season.”