Kent State softball coach resigns after 18 years

Karen Linder was the head coach for the Kent State Softball team.

Karen Linder was the head coach for the Kent State Softball team.

Ian Flickinger

Karen Linder announced she is stepping down from her position as the Flashes longstanding softball coach after 18 years.

Under Linder’s supervision, Kent State softball became a national power, reaching the NCAA tournament twice, and winning nine Mid-American Conference Division titles since the league split into two in 1998.

Linder leaves Kent State as the winningest coach in team history, compiling seven 30-win seasons, and a final record of 507-421-1 (252-149 in MAC play.) She reached the MAC in 11 straight seasons, the longest current streak of any MAC program, and winning three Conference Coach of the Year awards. 

In her last 10 seasons, Linder coached the Flashes softball team to seven Mid-American Conference Division titles, four MAC regular season titles, and two MAC Tournament championships – which led to two trips to the NCAA tournament in 2006 and 2008.

Linder’s players succeeded off the diamond, too— 25 players were named Academic All-District IV honorees, and 62 Academic All-MAC selections during her time as the team’s head coach. The Flashes routinely finished with one of the highest team GPAs in the NCAA.

Prior to her position at Kent State, Linder guided Division II Ashland University to a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title, placing second in the NCAA Division II regional in 1996. She coached fast pitch softball for more than 30 seasons overall, finishing with more than 800 total wins.

Linder graduated from Otterbein College in 1980, the school her father, Dick Fishbaugh, coached baseball at for 33 seasons, amassing 617 victories.  

They are the only father-daughter duo in NCAA history to win 600 games each.

Kent State named assistant coach Eric Oakley interim head coach for the 2015-2016 season. The Flashes finished the 2014-2015 season with a record of 41-13.

Contact Ian Flickinger at [email protected]