JOPLIN, Mo. — The Missouri Southern softball team defied all expectations this season. Predicted to finish eleventh in the MIAA, the Lions went and finished third with a 28-13-1 record.
The choice to name Southern head coach Hallie Blackney as the MIAA softball Coach of the Year seemed like a no brainer, and it was made official on Wednesday.
Blackney led the Lions to their first back-to-back winning seasons since the 2001-2002 season. The team’s 19 conference wins are also a school record.
She said Wednesday her original players from when she started three years ago had a huge part in laying the foundation for the success the team is currently seeing.
“This is year three,” Blackney said. “Year two was cut short because of COVID as we all know, but thinking back to the first year here, those four seniors, Angel, Lexy, T, Ash, had they not bought in from the very beginning, they helped lay the foundation for us. So year one was getting the standards set, year two was getting that mentality shift, and year three is be about it, and I think that’s what we’ve been doing.”
Sophomore Josie Tofpi was named first-team All-MIAA as a shortstop. She played and started in 42 games this season and after leading the Lions with a .410 batting average, 55 hits, 34 runs scored, 13 doubles, 32 RBI’s, 81 total bases, a .604 slugging percentage, a .459 on-base percentage, and 95 assists to go with three home runs, while going 5-5 in stolen bases.
Ashlynn Williams and Kara Amos earned second-team honors. Abby Atkin, Makaila Leonhart, Yazmin Vargas, Adrianna Young, and Leighton Withers all earned honorable mentions.
Blackney and the Lions will be back in action Friday in their first postseason tournament since 2017. The Lions will host Missouri Western in the opening round of the MIAA tournament. First pitch from MSSU is set for 3 pm.