By Jon Wilson ’22 / Sports Information Staff
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Eastern Connecticut State University celebrated its 2019 Super Regional championship and national tournament appearance September 18 with a Celebration and Recognition event at the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room in the J. Eugene Smith Library.
Multiple people spoke in honor of a team that reached a finish of third in the country last spring in its first national tournament appearance in seven years. Keynote speakers during the one-hour reception were Alice Pritchard, Chief of Staff for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (representing CSCU President Mark Ojakian, who provided written remarks), Dr. Elsa Núñez, Eastern President, and Lori Runksmeier, Eastern’s Director of Athletics.
Runksmeier opened the ceremony, acknowledging that the gathering was about the university’s pride in the success of the softball team.
Núñez’s presentation was full of praise, first for Runksmeier, who Núñez said is “all about the students.” Núñez went on to speak highly of Eastern’s head softball coach, Diana Pepin, and coaching staff, saying, “The love of the team drives you. The coaching staff is a super team of its own.”
Pepin, who completed her 18th season last year, spoke next, reminding the room of last falls’s field dedication to former Eastern softball coach and program founder Clyde Washburne, after he passed away in April of 2018 at the age of 87. She thanked all who helped the team from trainer Julia Alexander and sports information director Bob Molta, and beyond. Directing praise to her players, Pepin remarked that “the memory of last season will be doing something with a group of ladies that no one expected.”
At left: Eastern President Dr. Elsa Núñez provided remarks at Wednesday's Softball Celebration and Recognition Ceremony. (Photo by Erin Winsor '20)
Seniors Morgan Sanson of Thomaston and Haleigh Cardello of Litchfield, NH spoke on behalf of the players, concluding their thoughts by setting the table for the incoming season saying, “We can do much better, and we are working hard to get (national championship) No. 6.”
Introduced by assistant coach Dawn Brolin, each member of the team was then called to the front of the room to accept a commemorate picture plaque in recognition of the team’s Super Regional championship. Pepin and Brolin were starters on the last Eastern softball team to win a national title (in 1990).
The ceremony concluded with a 15-minute video documenting the softball team’s post-season run from the Little East Conference tournament, through the regionals and Super Regionals, and concluding at the national tournament in Tyler, TX. The video, which featured game footage and interviews from each of the tournaments, was produced by ETV Sports under director Jack Petrucci. The piece was introduced by current ETV Associate Director Dom Conte.