Kim Schuette back as softball coach

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Kim Schuette back as softball coach

Former Eastern softball coach Kim Schuette was officially introduced on Monday afternoon in Lantz Arena. Schuette last coached at Eastern from 2006-2013.

Former Eastern softball coach Kim Schuette was officially introduced on Monday afternoon in Lantz Arena. Schuette last coached at Eastern from 2006-2013.

Justin Brown

Former Eastern softball coach Kim Schuette was officially introduced on Monday afternoon in Lantz Arena. Schuette last coached at Eastern from 2006-2013.

Justin Brown

Justin Brown

Former Eastern softball coach Kim Schuette was officially introduced on Monday afternoon in Lantz Arena. Schuette last coached at Eastern from 2006-2013.

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Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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After Angie Nicholson resigned as the head coaching of the Eastern softball team just three days before the team was returning to town, Eastern needed to find a coach fast.

Kim Schuette, the winningest coach in Eastern softball history, is back to lead the Panthers and add to her already Eastern-best record of 232-191-1. Schuette coached the Panthers from 2006-2013.

Her success with the Panthers earned her Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 2011 and 2013

Even though Schuette is the winningest coach in Panther softball history, the call to come back home and coach the Panthers came out of nowhere.

“It fell out of the sky,” she said. “Sometimes things fall out of the sky and hit you in the face. I got a random text that (Nicholson) just resigned the position and the position was going to open. It was a very quick thing and I’m honored and grateful to be here.”

Schuette spent the last three seasons at Purdue posting an 85-81-1 in her time with the Boilermakers. Schuette resigned in July wanting to find the “right” coaching opportunity, and it turned out Eastern was the place for her.

Everything will be new for both Schuette and the women on the team as none of them have had the chance to play for her, but senior catcher Ashlynne Paul and senior first baseman Amber Toenyes were both recruited by her.

Schuette left Eastern about a month before the team got back to campus in 2013: Paul and Toenyes’ freshman seasons.

“I am very excited to have her back with us,” Paul said. “She was one of the reasons why I chose to come to Eastern in the first place. It is crazy that I will get to play my final season as a Panther under her.”

Schuette’s return to Charleston not only involved coming home to her family, she was also greeted with hugs by people when she came to Eastern Thursday, people who she had not seen in years, and was great, she said.

“The people who are still at Eastern bleed blue like me and that’s what I’m most excited about,” Schuette said about the team and her colleagues.

Schuette was named the new head coach of the Panthers on Friday, and officially started her second round as the coach on Monday.

She will be taking the reins of an Eastern softball team who has managed to find success over the past three years under the direction of Nicholson. Eastern lost five key seniors to graduation, but Schuette has plenty of young talent to work with that have made names for themselves in their first two years.

Junior pitcher Jessica Wireman has been a huge threat in the OVC since her freshman year in 2015. Wireman finished the 2016 campaign with a 19-19 record and a 3.11 ERA.

As a freshman, outfielder Kayla Bear found her way into the starting lineup. Bear showcased her speed all season long swiping 19 bases on 23 attempts.

Schuette may have not been at Eastern for the last three years, but still has followed the team even with the busy schedule at Purdue, she said.

“Ever since I’ve played Eastern softball, I’ve always kept a watchful eye on all of Eastern athletics,” she said. “I’ve always kept a distant, respectful eye on the program because it’s important to me.”

As far as knowing the team goes, Schuette has only had 20 minutes to get to know them so it’ll take some time for things to gel.

For any coach and any team, the goal is to win, and in Eastern’s case, win the conference and hopefully win the conference title.

“Do the little things right on and off the field all the time,” she said. “That will help us win. It took a while to be successful on the field when we were here before and hopefully those traditions were kept and hopefully (Nicholson) has some great kids and we continue rolling with Eastern softball.”

Also for Paul, she would love to go out of her senior season with a bang.

“She had such great success here before she left so I’m excited to see her come in and help us win conference,” Paul said. “I would love for my final year at EIU to be the program’s first trip to the regional tournament.”

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