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COACHES

 

Diana Pepin
Head Softball Coach

The winningest head coach in the 41-year history of the program and a 2017 inductee into the Connecticut Scholastic and Collegiate Softball Hall of Fame,  Diana Pepin will join ten other New England Division III active head softball coaches in the 400-victory club with her second win of 2018. She enters the 2018 season tied for 11th among active New England Division III coaches with Heather Stone of Western Connecticut, but has coached one fewer season than her Little East Conference coaching rival.

Of the ten active New England head coaches with 400 victories, only three feature higher winning percentages than Pepin (.621) and all but one have coached at least two more seasons than Eastern's head coach.

Now in her 17th season, Pepin led the program to five consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament between 2008 and 2012 and to regional championships and national tournament appearances in 2010 and '11.

In 2017, the Warriors swept Western Connecticut on the road on the final day of the regular season to earn at least a share of their eighth Little East Conference regular-season title in the last ten years, then won a pair of one-run extra-inning games in the LEC tournament to finish third in the six-team, double-elimination tournament.

By averaging just under 40 wins from 2010 through 2012, Pepin has pushed her current overall winning percentage as head coach to her current mark of .621, which ranks fourth all-time among Eastern softball head coaches. For eight years through 2015, her teams never failed to win at least 65 percent of their contests.

Pepin has coached (643) and won (398) more games than any of the previous six coaches in  program history, moving to the top in games coached in the national tournament opener on May 20, 2011 against Christopher Newport and becoming the program's winningest head coach with her 285th victory in a 6-0 home triumph over Ithaca College in the fourth round of the 2012 NCAA regional tournament. Pepin coached her 500th game at Eastern April 2, 2014 in a 3-1 victory at Trinity College in the first game of a doubleheader, and will directed the program to its 1,000th victory with its fourth win of 2017.

Among current LEC coaches, Pepin has no peer. In 16 seasons, she has compiled a regular-season conference record of 161-63 for a 71.9 winning percetnage and an average of 10.1 wins out of a possible 14. The eight LEC regular-season titles which Pepin has won or shared are six more than her nearest current LEC coaching competitor and her four LEC tournament titles are twice as many as any other current conference coach. In 16 years, Pepin has compiled an LEC regular-season and tournament record of 187-85  (.688), an average of nearly 12 victories per season.

In 2015, the Warriors finished with a share of the top spot in the final LEC regular-season standings for the sixth straight year -- becoming the first program in conference history to win or share as many as many as six in a row -- and gained the No. 1 seed in the LEC tournament for the sixth straight time. The Warriors went on to their fourth conference tournament title in six years (sweeping the field each time) to qualify for their 20th NCAA tournament since 1982.

In 2013, Pepin was selected Little East Conference Coach-of-the-Year for the second straight season and for the fifth time in eight years after directing the Warriors to their fourth straight conference regular-season title (Eastern has finished with a share of the title seven times in the last nine years).

Beginning with her first Coach-of-the-Year award in 2006, Pepin is 130-38 in LEC regular-season play (77.4 percent) over the last 12 years, averaging 10.8 wins per season (out of a possible 14.0) in that span.

In 2012, Pepin became the first coach in program history to be recognized as ECAC New England Division III Coach-of-the-Year after leading the Warriors to an historic season of 44 wins in 47 contests which included a 36-1 regular-season mark and record 40-game win streak which extended through the opening round of the regional tournament.

In 2011, Pepin became the first coach in 19 years to direct the Warriors to consecutive 30-win seasons. The 2010 team matched the program season (broken in 2012) record of 39 victories, and followed with 35 in 2011. The consecutive trips to the national tournament were also the program's first in 19 years. In 2011, Pepin and her coaching staff were recognized as regional Coaching Staff-of-the-Year for the second time in three seasons by the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association (NFCA).

Pepin led the program to a breakthrough season in 2008, the Warriors posting their highest win total in 14 years and returning to the NCAA Division III tournament for the first time during her tenure. They followed that up in 2009 by earning a second straight at-large bid to the NCAA tournament -- the first time since 1994 that the club experienced consecutive NCAA berths.

In 2010, the Warriors re-gained a piece of their glorious past by winning their  12th NCAA regional title and chalking up a third-place finish in the NCAA Division III national tournament at Eau Claire, WI.  Additional achievements in 2010 included a first-ever Little East Conference tournament title, and a No. 1 ranking in New England throughout the majority of the season. Pepin was also singled out as LEC Coach-of-the-Year for the third time in the last five years.

Pepin directed her alma mater to ten consecutive 20-win seasons through 2015. In 2012, the Warriors followed up two straight 13-1 LEC regular-season showings with a perfect 14-0 ledger -- the first season of conference perfection by any team through the first 18 years of LEC play.

In 2008, Pepin was named Little East Conference Coach-of-the-Year for the second time in three seasons after leading the Warriors to a share of their first LEC regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. Picked to finish fourth in the LEC pre-season coaches’poll in 2009,  Eastern won a then-program-record 12 of 14 regular-season LEC games and swept defending conference and regional champion Rhode Island College on the final day of the regular season to earn a piece of the regular-season title.

Named  on an at-large basis to their 15th NCAA tournament in 2008 – but first since 1998 – the Warriors proved their worth by posting two straight one-run wins after an opening loss in the New York Regional Tournament, one of which eliminated top-seeded and No. 5 nationally-ranked Montclair State University.

Pepin was named the program’s head coach in the spring of 2001 and in only her second full season, returned the Warriors to post-season play when they were named to the ECAC New England Division III tournament.

In 2006, the Willimantic native was named LEC Coach-of-the-Year for the first time. That season, the Warriors shared the Little East Conference lead in regular-season wins (11) and earned the No. 2 LEC tournament seed despite being picked for fourth in the coaches’ pre-season poll.

Pepin is a 1992 graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University and a former four-year letterwinner in the softball program, which is the most successful intercollegiate fastpitch softball program in New England history.

Pepin was a three-year starter as an infielder in the softball program between 1988 and 1991, helping the Warriors to four regional championships, the championship round of three national tournaments, and the 1990 NCAA Division III national championship.

“I had a tremendous experience as a student and a player at Eastern,” states Pepin, “and I want the new generation of players to have the same opportunity that I was afforded. Eastern is a great place for student-athletes to grow and make the most of their college experience.”

Pepin directs a series of fundamental, hitting and pitching clinics each February and March. In the summer of 2008, she served as hitting coach for the Lowell, MA-based New England Riptide in National Pro Fastpitch. In recent years, she has presented at the Mohegan Sun World Softball Coaches’ Convention along with Olympic Gold medalists Cat Osterman and Jennie Finch and former UCLA head coach Sue Enquist.

In addition to holding a B.A. Degree in Sociology, Pepin holds a B.S. in Physical Education from Eastern and an. M.S. Degree in Physical Education from Central Connecticut State University.

 

Kate Spring
Assistant Softball Coach

Kate (Livingston) Spring returns to the coaching staff of head coach Diana Pepin for the third season in an official capacity after serving as a volunteer assistant coach in 2014.

A former three-year letterwinner (2006-08) in the program after transferring from Springfield College, Spring was a two-year starter as an outfielder, compiling a career batting average of .322 with 54 runs, 39 RBI and 117 total bases.

As a senior tri-captain, Spring started all 42 games as a rightfielder and leadoff hitter for the 28-14 Warriors, batting .341 and leading the Warriors to their first NCAA tournament under Pepin (15th overall in program history). That year, Eastern shared the Little East Conference regular-season title and captured its first tournament championship.

Also as a senior, Spring earned a spot on the first-ever LEC All-Academic Team and also was recipient of an E-Club Scholar-Athlete Award in her first year of eligibility.

In 2010, Spring served as a volunteer assistant coach on the softball staff at Springfield College under head coach Julie Perrelli.

A native of West Hartford and resident of Middletown, Spring holds a B.A. in Visual Arts from Eastern and an M.S. in Art Therapy Counseling from Springfield College. She is employed as a licensed clinician at Rushford Academy – a substance abuse treatment center located in Durham.

 

Tom Madera
Assistant Softball Coach

Tom Madera returns to the staff of head coach Diana Pepin in a volunteer capacity.

A member of the Eastern police department, Madera is active in numerous community service projects. In 2008, he received the Connecticut Special Olympics Unsung Hero Award and has been a Special Olympics volunteer and unified partner since 1995.

Madera, who works with the infielders, is a 22-year veteran of law enforcement, currently serving as a police lieutenant with the Eastern Police Department, where he has been employed since 2010.