Eric Neel named ECCC Softball Coach
East Central Community College announced June 18 in a press release that they have hired former Lake High School coach, Eric Neel, to take over as head coach of the Lady Warrior fast pitch softball program. Neel makes the jump from high school softball to the JUCO ranks after leading the Lady Hornets to their first appearance in the state championship series and finished the season as Class 2A runner-up.
This will not be Neel’s first experience coaching at the college level as he had winning stints at Darton State College in Albany, Ga. and Baton Rouge Community College in Louisiana. His Darton State team won a region championship and played in the 2014 NJCAA Division I Softball National Championship Tournament.
“My family and I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunity to be a part of the East Central Community College family,” Neel said. “There are times in life when things fall into place and line up just right, and there is no denying who has really been in control of working things together. I know the good lord brought us to this place.”
“Eric Neel is an outstanding coach with a proven track record of commitment to both academic achievement and athletic development of student athletes under his leadership,” said ECCC President Dr. Billy Stewart. “as a successful coach of championship programs at the high school and community college levels, he knows what it takes to build and maintain a successful softball program. I am confident that Coach Neel will continue to develop our Lady Warrior softball program the EC Way.”
In all, Neel comes to ECCC having compiled a record of 272-132 over 11 seasons as a head coach, including five high school state championships, seven state championship appearances as well as one regional championship and national championship tournament appearance at the junior college level.
Neel received his bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2000 and his master’s degree in secondary education from William Carey University in 2008. He and his wife, Lindsey, have six children and currently reside in Lake. She plans to teach English in the Newton County School system beginning this fall.
Incoming ECCC Athletic Director, Paul Nixon, who was an integral part of the coaching search, believes Neel brings a winning pedigree with him. “We are excited about the addition of Eric Neel as the next head coach of our softball program,” said Nixon. “He has a history of winning at all levels and Coach Neel plans on getting started right away to complete this years recruiting class and finalize next year’s schedule. He is a high-energy coach who will attract the right young women to East Central softball.”
Neel will replace Kristin Chaney effective July 1. Chaney has been the Lady Warriors head coach for six seasons but tendered her resignation following the end of the 2018 season. In her six seasons with ECCC the team won 233 games and made the postseason tournament six straight years.
Neel looks to build on the already strong foundation left by Coach Chaney. He has won championships at almost every stop on his resume and looks to help ECCC take the next step and become a championship winning program.