Lipira Softball Complex dedicated on ‘Senior Day’

Sunday, April 3, Missouri Southern bestowed a special honor on the accomplished Pat Lipira. The University officially dedicated the “Pat Lipira Softball Complex.”

The dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting took place before the Lady Lion’s home game at Lea Kungle Field against Lindenwood University of St. Charles, MO. 

The dedication drew a who’s who of Southern faculty, staff, alum, friends, family, and current and former players of Dr. Lipira. 

“There are no words to describe,” she said. “I am just somewhat overwhelmed by it all. First of all, when you do something you love, the reward is there. I had the reward. I loved it, all the memories,” said Lipira.

There seemed to be no better representation for Missouri Southern softball than Pat Lipira. Lipira is the winningest coach in Missouri Southern history (total wins across all sports). She coached the Lions’ softball team from 1982-2000 and the volleyball team from 1981-1987.

As Missouri Southern’s Head softball coach from 1989-2000, she held a record of 632-275 (.697) but compiled a 439-162 (.730) mark while the Lions were members of the MIAA.

Lipira once called “the best coach Missouri Southern has ever seen” led the Lions to six NCAA Regional appearances and four MIAA championships. However, the ultimate highlight came in the 1992 NCAA Division II National Championship when the Lions crushed Saginaw Valley State 8-1 in the first game, following that up with 1-0 victories against Bloomsburg in the winners’ bracket final and Cal State-Hayward in the championship game to claim the National Title.

That same year she was named NCAA National Coach of the year, adding that to her five MIAA Coach of the Year awards. 

The Dedication ceremony came nearly two years to the day after the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inducted her on April 24, 2014. She joined former coaches Warren Turner (baseball), Tom Rutledge (track and field/cross country) and former All-American wide receiver and two-time Denver Broncos Superbowl champion Rod Smith as Missouri Southern’s only representatives in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.

She ranks 18th all-time in NCAA history for winning percentage and her win total ranks 29th all-time in NCAA history. While the volleyball coach at Southern, Lipira racked up 265 wins, the second-most in school history in only seven seasons.

The Pat Lipira Softball Complex committee initially had a goal of raising $50,000 to name the stadium after her. The committee far eclipsed their initial goal, raising enough money not only for the naming rights of the complex but also to the softball locker room. The committee had enough money left over to endow two scholarships for the kinesiology department.

Those close to her have always known Lipira to be a fighter, even going as so far as to battle breast cancer, and come out victorious. That experience inspired her to succeeded in helping start the MSSU women’s basketball Pink-Night initiative, leading to increased awareness and donations to breast cancer research. Lipira continues to donate her time to breast cancer research.

Despite her unequaled accomplishments in the world of athletics, she has given much more to Southern than her coaching responsibilities for the Lions, teaching students in the classroom as well. She stepped down from coaching to become head of the Department of Kinesiology, and then to become Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs.

It was for these reasons and much more that Missouri Southern’s softball complex will forever bare the name of Pat Lipira.