PAWTUCKET, R.I. - Kim Jeffs Popieniek posted one of the most impressive careers in Division III softball. A pitcher for Plymouth State during the 2002-05 seasons, Jeffs Popieniek set a new standard for pitchers in the Little East Conference, leaving a lasting impression on the Plymouth State record books. Now, twelve years since she last donned a Panthers uniform, she remains one of the most dominant players to ever compete in Little East Conference softball.
A 2010 inductee into the Plymouth State Athletics Hall of Fame, Jeffs Popieniek began her career in 2002 and immediately established herself as an elite pitcher in the conference. The Stoughton, Massachusetts native finished the year with a 21-8 record, a 0.68 ERA, and 360 strikeouts in 215 innings of work. Her impressive line earned her Third Team All-America honors, along with the LEC Rookie of the Year award. She was also named the Co-Pitcher of the year by the Little East Conference.
The 2003 season saw the Panthers capture the ECAC title, their first since 1985. They also set the program mark for most wins in a season with 30. Jeffs Popieniek was a big factor in the team’s success, compiling a then Division III record 375 strikeouts on the year, and powered the team through their postseason schedule. Jeffs Popieniek pitched two of three elimination games for the Panthers in the tournament, posting a complete game and 19 strikeouts in a 3-1 victory over Coast Guard, a mark which remains tied for the third highest total in a seven inning softball game. She then pitched their third game against top-seeded Springfield, striking out 11 and posting her 26th win on the season, a season high at the Division III level. She was named MVP of the tournament for her clutch performances in the postseason. In 2004 she garnered her third straight All-LEC nod, and was included on the conference’s All-Star team. Her 2005 campaign saw her post another impressive ERA of 0.98, and tallied 207 strikeouts in her 128.1 innings of action.
Jeffs Popieniek was one of the core contributors on a pair of dominant Plymouth State teams. The 2002 and 2003 teams compiled a combined 54-22-2 record, of which she is credited for 47 of the wins. In those two seasons she pitched 30 complete games, with opposing players struggling to garner consistent success from the plate, amassing a .150 batting average against her.
To this day she is the holder of many of Plymouth State’s pitching records. She leads the program in many career marks, including an astounding 0.86 ERA, 38 shutouts, and 66 wins in115 career starts. She also tallied 92 complete games, and 1,109 strikeouts in her career, with her strikeout mark still tallied as the seventh most in the history of Division III softball. Her remarkable career was honored by the Little East Conference, when she was inducted into the Little East Conference Hall of Fame in 2013.
The historic competitive success the LEC has achieved throughout the 30 years, beginning as a basketball only conference in 1986 and expanding into today's 19-Championship Sport Conference, will continue to make academic and athletic strides as the LEC continues to be the premier Division III conference of the New England region.
The Little East Conference was formed in 1986 when six public institutions gathered to create a single sport athletic conference and has expanded into what is now New England's premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III. The LEC features 19 Championship Sports and sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes while following the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship and citizenship.