HUNTINGDON, Pa.- The Juniata College Athletics Department is pleased to announce the hiring of Laina R. Connor as the 10th head coach of the softball program. She brings over seven years of coaching experience to Juniata.
"We are thrilled to have Laina as our new softball coach," said Athletics Director & Head Men's Basketball coach Greg Curley. "Her background as both a player and coach in highly successful Division III programs align with what we want for our softball program and our student-athletes. Her experience coaching and playing at schools committed to excellence in and out of the classroom has prepared her well for this opportunity. Laina's enthusiasm, preparation, and vision for the future of our program stood out during the search and we are excited for her to get started."
Coach Connor spent the last three years at Denison University as the assistant softball coach. She planned and managed all the daily pitching/catching workouts and saw the pitching staffs ERA drop below three as a unit and as low as 1.02. She also was in charge of recruiting across the country in 13 different states, organized youth camps, and clinics and conducted the academic meetings with the student-athletes. In her final two seasons, the Big Red were the North Coast Atlantic Conference Tournament Finalists in 2018 and 2019. They had a combined 11 NCAC all-conference players, five NCAC all-tournament team nominees and in 2018, they had the Conference Player of the Year.
"I'm excited to be part of such an important time in our student-athletes lives," remarked coach Connors. "I hope to help them cultivate their growth as softball players as well as individuals."
Prior to her time at Denison, Connor was the graduate assistant at Westminster College where she helped improve the pitching staff ERA, with some players' ERA dropping below 1.00. In 2017, the Griffins were the Presidents' Athletic Conference Tournament finalist. They had four all-conference players and one all-region pitcher.
Connor was also the co-founder and a coach of Armstrong Force Travel Softball in 2013. She helped teach softball skills as well as leadership qualities, communication, and teamwork to girls ages 8-16.
Connor played four years at Muskingum University, where she helped lead the Muskies to an Ohio Athletic Conference Championship in 2014. They advanced all the way to the NCAA regional final. In 2016, they advanced to the finals in the OAC conference tournament. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Business Management before getting her Masters of Education at Westminster.