Penders was a co-captain in 1994. The Huskies finished with a 26–19 record and won the Big East Tournament before losing to Georgia Tech and Long Beach State in the NCAA Regionals and being eliminated. Penders finished the season batting .354 with seven home runs and 46 RBIs.
Penders was hired as a graduate assistant baseball coach before being named a full assistant in 1999. He was promoted to head coach in 2003 after Andy Baylock left the program. Penders won the Big East Coach of the Year honors in 2006, 2010 and 2011, taking the Huskies to the NCAA Tournament in each of those three seasons. In 2011, Penders led the Huskies to their first Super Regional. They were eliminated by South Carolina, two games to none. On March 27, 2012, Penders earned his 300th career victory, all at Connecticut, with a win over in-state rival Hartford. The 8th-seeded Huskies won the 2013 Big East Conference Baseball Tournament in the league's final year before the split.
Penders' father, Jim Penders, Sr., also played baseball at the University of Connecticut and was a member of the Huskies team that played in the 1965 College World Series. Penders, Sr. was the head baseball coach at East Catholic High School from 1969 to 2012 and won four state championships.
His uncle, Tom Penders, served as the head basketball coach at Tufts University, Columbia University, Fordham University, the University of Rhode Island, University of Texas at Austin, George Washington University and the University of Houston.
Penders and his wife, Brooke, reside in Old Wethersfield. They have three children.
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