A new era in Georgia Southern softball

McClain Baxley

One week after the Georgia Southern softball team’s early exit from the Sun Belt conference tournament, athletic director Tom Kleinlein announced that softball head coach Annie Smith would not be retained.

In her six years at Georgia Southern, Smith went 176-166 including a 24-29 overall record this past season and finishing sixth in Sun Belt conference standings. The Eagles lost in the first round of the conference tournament for the third straight season after finishing with a 12-15 record in conference play.

Kleinlein released a statement saying that the search for a new coach would begin immediately, and it took less than three weeks to find the answer. The new head coach for the Eagles softball team is former Armstrong State head coach Kim Dean.

Dean was at the helm for just a year at Armstrong State before the Pirates athletic program was announced to be ceasing competition in advance of the consolidation with Georgia Southern.

In just one year at Armstrong, Dean put up a 38-14 overall record and led the team to six straight postseason wins en route to a semifinal appearance at the NCAA Championships. They lost to eventual Division II nation champion Minnesota State Mankato. The Pirates finished the 2017 season at No. 4 in the NFCA Division II Top 25 poll.

Before joining the Pirates, Dean was the assistant coach at the University of Southern Indiana for 7 seasons. In her seven years, USI went 193-146 and advanced to the NCAA Championships in three of her final four seasons.

The Armstrong State coaching staff, led by Dean, was named 2017 NFCA Division II Southeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year by the coaches’ association. Dean’s assistant at Armstrong State, Megen Conner, was hired to be an assistant at Georgia Southern this summer as well. Conner (formerly Megen Smith) starred as an Eagle softball player beginning in 2008. She was the first Georgia Southern player to earn all-conference honors in each of her four years.

Coach Kim Dean has had a great deal of success in her more than eleven years of coaching and Eagle nation knows that there is too much talent on this team to have it go to waste again. With a new head coach and a new assistant in Statesboro, there is new era being ushered in for Georgia Southern softball.