PORTALES — Amber Daniel came to the Eastern New Mexico University softball program as a graduate assistant in 2005, but in two of the last three campaigns she has taken over head coaching duties during the season.
On Thursday, ENMU athletic director Mike Maguire said Daniel has been hired to coach the Zias on a permanent basis.
“I’m extremely excited about officially becoming the head softball coach at ENMU,” said Daniel, a junior college All-American third baseman at Temple (Texas) College who finished her playing career at Baylor University in her hometown of Waco, Texas. “We have a great team coming back and some great players coming in.”
Daniel, 24, said Thursday she has already completed recruiting for next season, with 14 newcomers joining 10 returning players. ENMU graduated only four seniors, all outfielders, from a 29-27 team which went 11-13 in the Lone Star Conference South Division.
Daniel jumped in as acting head coach five games into the 2005 season when new coach Armando Quiroz suffered a severe ankle injury during a practice session and returned home to Arizona for rehab. After their 1-4 start, she led the Zias to a 19-25 mark the rest of the season.
In 2006, Daniel worked under Quiroz and helped the Zias post a 33-21 record.
This year, Quiroz resigned his position in mid-March for family reasons. Daniel, who was not involved with the program at that time, was named acting head coach and guided ENMU to a 16-11 record the rest of the way.
The Zias’ offensive and defensive production picked up slightly after she took over in 2007, while the pitching staff saw its earned run average drop from 5.42 in mid-season to 4.69 at the end, including 3.88 under Daniel.
“Amber (has done) a great job for the program,” Maguire said. “We had a good season this year, and I think she’s more than capable of taking the team to the next level.”
Daniel said Tracy Jordan and Sarah Hausner will serve as graduate assistants next season while Kristina Goodman will work as a student assistant. Jordan and Goodman are former ENMU players.