Nicholson reaches 400 wins

Sean Hastings, Staff reporter

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Eastern softball coach Angie Nicholson reached 400 career-coaching wins on Saturday with a 12-0 win against conference rival Tennessee State.

The Panthers scored their 12 runs in just five innings as they run-ruled the Tigers.

Nicholson was sitting at 399 career wins as a college head coach going into the April 15th matchup against Butler, where she started her Division I coaching career, but the Panthers lost that game by a score of 8-5.

“That would have been kind of ironic,” Nicholson said. “They gave me my first start at Division I. But I’m glad it happened here.”

Butler was the first D-I school she got an opportunity to coach at, but her coaching career began at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio.

Nicholson also spent seven years coaching at Cleveland State prior to coming to Eastern.

In her time at Cleveland State, she posted a 211-152 record.

Nicholson has a 54-39 record in her two years as the Panthers’ head coach and a career record of 401-303-1 in 15 years of coaching. She got her 401st win in game two of a doubleheader against Tennessee State.

The Panthers record on the 2015 season is 16-22, and their record in the Ohio Valley Conference is 11-8.

Senior shortstop Bailey O’Dell has been playing under Nicholson for two years now so being able to help get Nicholson her 400th win was special, she said.

“It’s awesome to be a part of any kind of achievement,” O’Dell said. “But it’s a great feeling to be a part of your coach’s achievements and successes that they can remember forever. It’s all about leaving your mark and in a way, we helped her do that.”

Junior outfielder April Markowski has said she has never been a part of something like this, so it was really special for her, too.

“I think it was pretty awesome,” Markowski said. “I’ve never been a part of that so I think that made us feel good as a team to help her get that win.”

Nicholson said she is the type of coach who does not pay attention to the amount of career wins she has and she just focuses on coaching the games at hand and getting those wins.

“I am not one of those people who keep track of things like that,” Nicholson said.

She said her husband is her number one supporter and has kept track of her wins. He let her know a few weeks ago she was getting close to the 400-win milestone.

Even though Nicholson knew going into the games against Tennessee Tech one more win would put her at 400 wins, she only cared about getting wins to help the Panthers with seeding for the conference tournament.

“We needed to get wins to put ourselves in a better position to make it to the tournament,” Nicholson said. “That was my only concern and thought.”

Nicholson was so focused on just getting those wins to put them in the better position for the conference tournament, she still did not realize she had reached 400 until the team photographer told her to get the ball for the picture.

Once it finally dawned on her she had reached the 400-win milestone she said it was a great feeling to get that done, but she is also glad that she got it out of the way.

“It’s a cool milestone but that’s definitely never been my focus,” Nicholson said.

Her number one goal as a head coach has always been to impact her players’ lives.

She said she wants to do something for each of the players that will benefit their lives in some way.

Out of her 400 career wins, her most memorable game at Eastern was last year when the Panthers beat East Carolina in 12 innings.

“We fought so hard,” Nicholson said. “I just saw a different fight in those kids last year. That one stands out in my mind being here at Eastern.”

Nicholson and the rest of the Panthers will look to keep getting those key wins this weekend in three games against Southeast Missouri in another conference matchup.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].