Head Coach Eric Newell
Having won a National Championship in his first season at the helm of the Auburn Montgomery softball program, Eric Newell has amassed a record of 124-35 since being named head coach of the Warhawks on Dec. 16, 2014. Newell, entering his fourth season at AUM, has a career record of 378-156 over 11 years as a head coach at the collegiate level.
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 II game against #13 Valdosta State on Feb. 4, earning an 11-2 victory in six innings over the Blazers. The Warhawks also picked up a 4-2 victory over #17 Alabama Huntsville on April 20. For the year AUM went 12-4 against future Gulf South Conference opponents.
In 2016, Newell led AUM to a school-record 53 wins and the first Southern States Athletic Conference Softball Tournament championship in the program's history. The Warhawks also captured their first Gulf Shores Invitational championship in 2016. AUM finished the campaign with a 53-8 overall record and was ranked third in the NAIA Postseason Poll. AUM continued its dominance of the NAIA Opening Round, sweeping through the AUM Bracket and impoving to 11-0 all-time in Opening Round contests. The Warhawks, the only NAIA team with four Opening Round championships, advanced to their fifth consecutive NAIA World Series by winning the bracket.
Individually, senior hurler Taylor Powell earned First-Team All-American honors from both the NAIA and National Fastpitch Coaches Association, while also earning SSAC Pitcher of the Year accolades. Powell and first baseman Sydney Dishman were also named to the NAIA World Series All-Tournament team. In addition, three Warhawks earned first-team all-conference accolades, while two more were selected to the second team. Catcher Sarah Angulo was voted the league's Gold Glove winner at the position and four student-athletes was named to the SSAC All-Academic team. Claire Wilson was also selected an NAIA Scholar-Athlete.
Newell immediately made his presence felt with the Warhawks, helping the team to the 2015 NAIA National Championship, the program's second in as many years. Under his leadership, AUM finished 46-9 on the year, including a 24-2 mark in the SSAC. The team rolled through the AUM Bracket of the NAIA Opening Round without allowing a run en route to its third consecutive Opening Round Championship and fourth straight NAIA World Series appearance. Along with capturing his first national title, Newell picked up his 300th career coaching victory in the 10-0 win over Lindsey Wilson in the national championship game. For his efforts, 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.
Several players flourished under Newell's leadership, headlined by pitcher Cassie Jones, who was tabbed the NAIA National Player of the Year in Cassie Jones. Jones was also named an NAIA All-American, the SSAC Pitcher of the Year and was an NAIA Scholar Athlete. Newell also coached seven all-conference performers, five SSAC All-Academic members and two NAIA Scholar-Athletes.
Prior to joining the Warhawks, Newell posted a 254-121 record in his eight-year stint with the Lady Eagles, 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. His teams have spent 26 weeks ranked in the NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, climbing as high as No. 4 in the rankings. The Lady Eagles were ranked inside the top 10 for 10 editions. Prior to his arrival at WBC, the softball program experienced nine consecutive losing seasons.
Newell guided the program to four consecutive American Midwest Conference championships from 2010-13 and been selected the conference coach of the year four times. He has coached five NAIA All-Americans, eight NAIA Scholar-Athletes, 37 all-conference selections and 102 academic all-conference performers. He finished .500 or better in seven seasons, winning 30 or more games five times.
In 2013, the Lady Eagles finished 46-9 and advanced to Bracket Play at the NAIA National Tournament. During the season, Williams Baptist won 19 consecutive games and finished 16-2 in the AMC. After dropping an extra-inning contest to Rogers State in Pool Play, the Lady Eagles rallied and defeated the Hillcats in an elimination, and if-necessary, game to qualify for the bracket round of the tournament. Once in the final round, the Lady Eagles defeated former Southern States Athletic Conference power Lee University and perennial power Reinhardt.
The season prior, Williams Baptist finished with a school-record 51 victories, at one point winning 16 straight games. In addition to finishing the AMC regular-season with a 15-1 record, the Lady Eagles also won the conference tournament.
Prior to his arrival at WBC, Newell spent five years coaching at Fredericktown High School in Fredericktown, Mo., where he started the softball program.
Newell earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Williams Baptist, while earning his master’s from William Woods University. He and his wife, April, have five daughters: Gabriella, Juliana, Adalynn, Jillian and Jacqueline.