AUM’s Newell named Softball Head Coach at Troy
TROY, Ala. – Fresh off a second straight conference championship and berth in the NCAA Division II Softball World Series, Eric Newell has been named Troy’s new softball head coach, Director of Athletics Brent Jones announced Thursday afternoon.
Newell led Auburn-Montgomery to back-to-back No. 3 national rankings the past two seasons as the Warhawks were among the final six teams remaining in the 2022 NCAA Division II Softball World Series after AUM won both its Regional and Super Regional matchups.
“We are thrilled to welcome Eric Newell and his family to Troy,” Jones said. “Coach Newell is a national championship winning coach who has had tremendous success everywhere he has been. He is a relentless recruiter who knows our recruiting area extremely well while also having regional and national connections and demonstrating a proven track record in player development. The future is incredibly bright with Eric Newell leading our proud softball program.”
In 16 seasons as a head coach, Newell’s teams have dominated on the field, posting a combined .727 winning percentage between his eight years at Williams Baptist (254-121) and eight seasons at AUM (302-88). Newell-coached teams have won eight conference titles and appeared in six NCAA or NAIA postseason tournaments with four World Series appearances.
Newell’s aggressive style of play led AUM to ranking in the top 14 nationally in scoring his final four seasons with the program. Additionally, the Warhawks stole more than 100 bases in each of his final four full seasons, including 179 in 2019, the third-most in the country. AUM’s 2.82 stolen bases per game in 2018 were the fifth-most nationally.
AUM’s dominance also translated to the circle, where Warhawk pitchers combined for a 1.97 ERA with 66 complete games and 54 shutouts from 2019 to 2022.
“I am humbled and beyond excited to be named the next softball head coach at Troy,” Newell said. “I am grateful to Chancellor Hawkins and Brent Jones for the opportunity to lead this great program. It was evident in this process that Troy University is committed to a high level of excellence on and off the field. Troy Softball has an outstanding tradition and competes in one of the best leagues in the country for our sport. I cannot wait to begin the new era of Troy Softball.”
This past season, Newell guided the Warhawks to 49 wins, their most ever since moving to the Division II level in 2017 and most since Newell’s 2016 NAIA World Series squad won 53 games. AUM was electric on the field, stealing 105 bases in 62 games, all while belting 54 home runs, 71 doubles, 20 triples and posting an .852 team OPS. Additionally, the Warhawks averaged 6.3 runs per game and finished ninth nationally in runs scored.
AUM pitchers tossed 31 complete games and 12 shutouts with the Warhawks’ top two pitchers both finishing with sub 1.70 ERAs on the year.
“It is a pleasure to appoint Eric Newell as the head coach of our Trojans softball program,” Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., said. “Eric is a proven winner, but, more importantly, he is a man of integrity. As a family man he embodies the values of our university. The parents of our current and future players will be proud for their daughters to play for him.”
Newell and the Warhawks were rewarded for their outstanding play, with Gia Martin earning All-America distinction, Newell taking home Gulf South Coach of the Year honors, three Warhawks earning all-region awards and five taking home all-conference recognition.
AUM’s 2022 season was a perfect bookend for Newell’s career in the Capital City after he began his tenure leading the Warhawks to the 2015 NAIA National Championship. AUM rolled through the Southern States Athletic Conference with a 24-2 record and didn’t allow a run in the AUM Bracket of the NAIA Opening Round. The Warhawks finished the year with a school record 46 wins as they won their four games in the World Series by a combined 31-1 score. He was named the SSAC and NAIA Coach of the Year, while he and assistant coach Scottie Wilkes were named the NAIA Coaching Staff of the Year by the NFCA.
Individually, Cassie Jones was named the 2015 NAIA National Player of the Year, NAIA All-American and the SSAC Pitcher of the Year.
Newell led AUM in its transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II prior to the 2017 season, and it didn’t take long for the Warhawks to adjust to their elevated level of competition. Newell led AUM to a 43-12 record in 2019, including a 20-9 mark in the Gulf South Conference, and had the Warhawks rolling in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season. AUM had won seven games in a row and nine of its last 10 when the season was halted.
Newell and the Warhawks responded to the adversity by posting the school’s best season to date at the Division II level in 2021 by finishing with a 40-7 record, a Gulf South Conference regular season championship, a Gulf South Conference Tournament title, an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, three All-Americans and a No. 3 national ranking during the season.
In the process, Newell captured his 500th career victory as a head coach, and AUM landed five players on all-conference teams at the end of the season, including four first team selections. The Warhawks opened the season winning their first 14 games, earning the squad their first ever Top 25 national ranking, and they followed that later in the year with a doubleheader sweep at No. 1 North Georgia.
In 2020, the Warhawks led the conference in runs (169) and RBIs (146) while leading the league in shutouts (9), hits allowed (80), runs allowed (47) and fewest walks surrendered (37).
AUM added 14 wins to their 2019 total from 2018, finishing 43-12 overall and 20-9 in GSC play. The Warhawks won their first 11 games, including a 9-0 victory over No. 3 North Georgia to open the season and added series victories over No. 16 Valdosta State and No. 21 Mississippi College later in the year.
Newell’s run-and-gun softball style was on full display as freshman Olivia Aycock set the program record for stolen bases in a single season (47), while five players hit over .300 on the year. The Warhawks posted a 1.91 team ERA in the circle, with four pitchers posting sub 2.00 ERAs on the year.
AUM’s 2018 squad finished with a 19-14 record in its first season competing in the Gulf South Conference, thanks to six series victories within league play.
During AUM’s first season transitioning from NAIA to NCAA Division II, Newell guided the Warhawks to a 25-18 record in 2017. AUM won its first NCAA Division II game against No. 13 Valdosta State in early February, and the Warhawks later knocked off No. 17 Alabama-Huntsville.
In the year after AUM’s national title, Newell led AUM to a school record 53 wins and the program’s first SSAC Tournament title. The Warhawks finished the season ranked third nationally and won a pair of games in the NAIA World Series.
Taylor Powell earned All-America honors in addition to SSAC Pitcher of the Year distinction that season, while three Warhawks earned all-conference honors and catcher Sarah Angulo took home the SSAC’s Gold Glove award.
Prior to joining the Warhawks, Newell posted a 254-121 record in his eight-year stint at Williams Baptist University, setting the school record for wins and winning percentage. He led the squad to a pair of NAIA National Tournament appearances, including a fourth-place finish in 2013.
Prior to his arrival at the NAIA school in Walnut Ridge, Ark., the Lady Eagles endured nine straight losing seasons. However, during his tenure, Newell’s teams were ranked in the NAIA Coaches Top 25 for 26 consecutive weeks, including 10 weeks ranked inside the Top 10.
Newell guided the program to four consecutive American Midwest Conference championships from 2010-13 and was selected the Coach of the Year four times. In addition, he coached five NAIA All-Americans, eight NAIA Scholar-Athletes, 37 all-conference selections and 102 academic all-conference performers.
In 2013, the Lady Eagles finished 46-9 and advanced to the NAIA World Series for the first time in program history. Williams Baptist won 19 consecutive games, finished 16-2 in the AMC and defeated former Southern States Athletic Conference power Lee University and perennial power Reinhardt to advance in the NAIA Tournament.
The season prior, Williams Baptist finished with a school-record 51 victories, at one point winning 16 straight games. Newell guided the team to a regular season title behind a 15-1 record and a conference tournament championship.
Newell began his coaching career at Fredericktown (Mo.) High School, where he started the softball program and coached for five seasons.
Newell earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Williams Baptist and earned his master’s degree from William Woods University. He and his wife, April, have six daughters: Gabriella, Juliana, Adalynn, Jillian, Jacqueline and Josephine.