After winning a pair of New Jersey Athletic Conference Championships as a player at then-Trenton State College, head coach Margie Acker has matched that total with a pair of championships at the helm of the Cougars program after guiding Kean to back-to-back NJAC titles in 2010 and 2011.
Entering her 14th season at the helm of the Kean University softball program, Acker has re-established the Cougars competitively both in the NJAC and across the region, as Kean recently made its third appearance in the NCAA tournament in the last five seasons.
After posting back-to-back non-losing seasons in 2006 and 2007 for the first time since the early nineties, Acker guided the Cougars back to the NCAA Division III softball tournament for the first time as a head coach in 2008, as the Cougars posted just the third 30-win season in program history. The 2010 squad posted the second most wins in school history, as they came within one win of the World Series en-route to finishing with 32 wins.
Her 2007 team finished as Eastern College Athletic Conference Southern Championship Runners-Up after going 24-15 during the year. The Cougars also appeared in the ECAC playoffs in 2006 and 2009.
The Cougars have been just as successful off the diamond, most recently posting the 39th highest cumulative grade point average of the more than 400 NCAA Division III schools that sponsor softball. The Kean softball program has been ranked in each of the last five years, with a total of 15 players earning academic recognition from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association as NFCA All-America Scholar Athletes. In the last seven years, three players have also earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District honors for their success in the classroom and on the field.
A former outfielder and catcher for then Trenton State, Acker brings an impressive personal background to the dugout. A 1992 NCAA Division III All-American outfielder for the Lions, Trenton State won 48-of-50 games and the 1992 NCAA Division III National Championship her senior season. A New Jersey Athletic Conference first-team all-star, Acker batted .438 and stole 21 bases in 25 attempts that season.
As a junior, she batted .425 and committed just one error in 31 games before having to miss the NCAA Tournament after suffering a broken arm late in the season. In addition to being an accomplished outfielder, Acker also spent time as the Lions catcher, helping lead her team to a 92-9 overall record in her two seasons in a Lions' uniform.
Following her playing career, Acker served as an assistant coach at NCAA Division I Rider University in 1997-98, helping guide the Broncs to the Northeast Conference Championship and a spot in the NCAA Regional Tournament.
Prior to taking over the head coaching duties at Kean, she served as an assistant coach at Muhlenberg College in 1998-99. In her one season with the Pennsylvania school, the Mules finished second in the Centennial Conference and runners-up in the ECAC Tournament.
Acker earned a Bachelor of Science degree in health and physical education with an emphasis in corporate fitness from Trenton State College in 1993.
Entering her seventh season on the coaching staff, Deanna Thomas is a familiar face with the Kean University Department of Athletics as a two-sport standout during her undergraduate days.
A four-year letterwinner in softball and field hockey, Thomas started 126 of 131 career games on the diamond as a catcher and outfielder. In 2004, she earned New Jersey Athletic Conference honorable mention honors as a utility player to cap her career.
The previous fall on the field hockey field, Thomas garnered STX/National Field Hockey Coaches' Association third-team all-america honors as a defender to become the first player in program history to earn All-American accolades. The former school record holder in single season and career assists, she still ranks tied for second with 10 single season assists and is currently fourth with 21 career assists.
A health and physical education teacher at Carteret Middle School, Thomas earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education and Health Teacher Certification from Kean in 2005.
Chrissy Yard joins the Cougar staff in her second season in 2013.
Yard has spent two years coaching in Connecticut as she worked as a graduate assistant for the University of New Haven in 2010 and Hartford University in 2011. During the 2010 season her team enjoyed a 42-8 record, advancing to the NCAA Division II Super Regional. Prior to coaching, Yard was a four year member of the Scarlet Knights appearing in 117 games and tossing over 400 innings. During her sophomore campaign she recorded three saves, tying her for the standard in the single-season category. Yard was also a member of the BIG EAST all-academic squads in 2008 and 2009.
The Hillsborough native received her Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science and Sports Studies from Rutgers in 2009 and her Master of Science degree in Management of Sports Industries from New Haven in 2010.
Courtney Smyth is in her second season on the Cougar staff in 2013.
Smyth closed out her pitching career tied for second in school history with 41 wins and second with 297 career strikeouts. She was a member of three teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament with two New Jersey Athletic Conference tournament championships.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Community Recreation from Kean in 2012 and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration from Kean.
Nicole Scarillo moves into a coaching role in her first season in 2013.
Scarillo makes the move after finishing her final year of eligibility with the Cougars in 2011. In her one season in a Kean uniform she was named an NJAC Honorable-Mention all-star after appearing in 44 games with a .339 batting average. While behind the dish she also tallied 10 doubles and three homeruns. Prior to coming to Kean, she was a three year player at Dominican College (N.Y.). As a member of the Chargers, she recorded 78 runs and 30 homeruns while driving in 118 in 152 games. While sporting a .340 batting average, she also walked 44 times.
Scarillo is completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Athletic Training at Kean.