ERIC OAKLEY | HEAD COACH
Eric Oakley enters his third season as head coach in 2018. He was named Head Coach in June 2016, after serving one season as an assistant on Kent State’s staff and one season as Interim Head Coach.
Oakley returned to the Mid-American Conference, as he was a member of Eastern Michigan’s coaching staff for five seasons (2007-11) prior to his stint at North Dakota. He was interim head coach for the 2010 season and led the Eagles to a 19-30-1 record.
Oakley’s second season was one of the most successful in program history as the Golden Flashes won the MAC Tournament and made their first NCAA Regional Tournament appearance since 2008. The Flashes became only the second team in MAC Tournament history to win three games in one day to win the MAC Tournament Championship. Pitcher Ronnie Ladines was named MAC Tournament MVP and USA Softball Collegiate National Player of the Week recording four wins with a 1.06 ERA with 34 strikeouts and batted. 529 with two doubles, four home runs and seven RBIs. The Golden Flashes took down Oregon State from the Pac-12, 2-1, and eliminated the Beavers from the NCAA Tournament. Under Oakley’s guidance, Kent State had two NFCA All-Region First Teamers in infielder Maddie Grimm and Ronnie Ladines. Grimm was also named the MAC Player of the Year and Nan Harvey Award Winner, while the Flashes had four players named to All-MAC Teams. Ladines also threw the third perfect game in Kent State history against Buffalo. Oakley’s team not only had success on the field but in the classroom as well. The squad had the 10th highest GPA (3.568) in the country and had 17 Flashes named NFCA All-America Scholar Athletes.
During his first season as interim Head Coach, Oakley was named the 2016 MAC Coach of the Year. He guided the Flashes to back-to-back MAC regular season titles for the second time in past decade while recording 78 total wins, making it the winningest two-year span in program history. The Flashes also posted a 37-22 record making it the fourth most in program history. Since his arrival at Kent State, the Flashes have had five NFCA All-Mideast Region selections and seven All-MAC Honorees. Off the field work by his student-athletes have also been remarkable, posting a 3.513 team GPA ranking 10th in the nation in 2014-15 and having a total of 23 Academic All-MAC Honorees.
In his first season as an assistant he instructed one of the most dominant pitching staffs in college softball and led them to a MAC regular season championship with the entire staff compiling an ERA of 1.55, which was third in the nation. The staff also threw 46.2 innings of scoreless softball. Under his tutelage Emma Johnson earned NFCA All-Mideast Region and 2nd Team honors and was named MAC Pitcher of the Year. Johnson recorded two no hitters, a personal best 40-inning scoreless streak and threw shutouts vs #3 Michigan and #15 Central Florida, and also tied the Kent State record with 18 strikeouts in a game. She also ranked in the top ten in the country in K/7IP, ERA, hits allowed/7IP, Ks, and strikeouts.
After taking over a North Dakota program in its last year of transitioning to NCAA Division I, Oakley compiled a 34-98 record over the past three years. He had a total of 16 student-athletes earn all-conference honors, including 9 in the program’s first two years as a member of the Big Sky Conference.
Oakley served several roles during his tenure at Eastern Michigan, including assistant hitting coach, pitching and catching coach and recruiting coordinator. In his first season on staff, he helped guide the Eagles to a historic season in which they captured their first NCAA Regional appearance, MAC Tournament title and MAC West Division title in program history. During his final season in Ypsilanti, EMU posted its second-highest winning percentage all-time (.591), largely due to the Oakley’s work with the team’s pitchers. Eastern Michigan’s team ERA dipped to 3.04 from 4.57 the previous season, and Eagles pitchers garnered MAC West Pitcher of the Week honors on five occasions.
A 2001 graduate of Eastern Michigan, Oakley resides in Kent.