JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Aug. 30, 2017) – ETSU softball head coach Brad Irwin turned to a familiar face to fill his open assistant coach vacancy.
Irwin – who coached the Buccaneers to their first-ever Southern Conference Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017 – announced on Wednesday that Paige Neely has accepted the position to become ETSU’s assistant coach.
“I am very happy to announce Paige Neely as assistant coach for our program,” said Irwin. “Last year Paige was in a graduate assistant position, however, when we were faced with the situation of being short-staffed prior to the spring, Paige stepped up and took on more responsibility. She performed tremendously and earned this opportunity to be promoted to full-time assistant coach. We already know what she brings to our program and are looking forward to the future with Paige on board.”
Neely spent the 2017 season as a graduate assistant for the Blue and Gold where she coached the Buccaneer hitters and infielders, along with assisting with day-to-day operations for the program. Neely will continue to coach the hitters and infielders.
“I am very excited to be given this opportunity,” said Neely. “I am fortunate to continue working with this great coaching staff, along with coaching a talented group of girls. I am looking forward to starting fall practice and preparing for the upcoming 2018 season. I want to thank Coach Irwin and ETSU for this opportunity. “ETSU and Johnson City have felt like home since I arrived last year. I am so blessed to be able to continue this journey with the ETSU softball family, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Neely coached three Buccaneers to all-SoCon honors last season as Taylor Carter (Brazil, Ind.) was named second team all-conference, while Nikki Grupp (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Kylie Toler (Bradenton, Fla.) landed all-freshman team accolades. Overall, ETSU set single-season records in batting average (.285), doubles (80), RBI (218), walks (181), on-base percentage (.371) and sacrifice flies (17). The Bucs finished the 2017 season with a record of 29-26, marking the highest winning percentage in program history. In addition, this was just the second winning season in program history and the 29 wins are the second-most by any Buccaneer team.
Neely enjoyed a successful collegiate career as she played one season at Austin Peay before transferring to Lipscomb for her final three seasons. In her one season at Austin Peay, Neely hit .363 with nine doubles en route to being named second team all-Ohio Valley Conference and OVC All-Newcomers Team. In her three seasons at Lipscomb, Neely helped guide the Bisons to 107 wins, including a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2014. Neely earned first team All-Atlantic Sun honors all three seasons, while she started all 171 games for the Bisons. For her four-year career, Neely hit .353 (248-for-702) with 51 doubles, five triples, 15 home runs, 124 RBI and 123 runs scored in 217 games (216 starts). Neely led Lipscomb in hitting (.374), hits (74), doubles (14) and slugging percentage (.541) in 2014, while leading the team in RBI (42) and total bases (106) in 2013.
Neely, a Nashville native, played on three Class AA State Championship teams at Goodpasture Christian School. She earned all-state, all-district and all-academic honors in high school, while also lettering in basketball.