Label 2016 season a huge success for Lions


Kelvin Duley

Southern finished ninth in conference, just one spot out of making the MIAA Conference Tournament for the first time since 2011. The Lions finished 23-32 (10-16 MIAA)

On Apr. 23, the Missouri Southern softball season came to an end as the Lions split their doubleheader with Northeastern State losing the final game of the season, 7-6.

Southern entered last weekend with four games remaining against the third and fifth ranked teams in the conference and a punchers chance of clinching a ticket to Oklahoma City, Okla. for the conference tournament.

Southern’s postseason chances took a huge hit on Apr. 22 against Central Oklahoma as the Lions were swept and outscored 25-3. The following day against NSU, the Lions would have to sweep the Riverhawks and receive a lot of help from their conference opponents in order to win a spot in Oklahoma City. 

But the Lions post-season aspirations fell just short as they won game one, but blew a six run lead in game two, going on to lose their season finale, 7-6.

On Apr. 8, the Lions sat in seventh place with eight games remaining. They’d go on to lose seven of their final eight games finishing in ninth. 

This 2016 Southern softball team exceeded all expectations and by all accounts had a very successful season. With Melissa Chmielewski serving as interim head coach and the team being chosen to finish 12th in conference, the Lions compiled a 23-32 (10-16 MIAA) record and finished just one spot out of making the conference tournament.

“Number one, no one thought we were going to be even close to getting in the conference tournament,” said Chmielewski.

“A lot of what we talked about this year was playing for each other. All around we’ve put forth a different standard of work ethic and we’ve raised the bar a little bit I think.” 

To go along with a first time head coach, the Lions also started four freshmen. Those four freshmen (Angel Badalamenti, Ashley Caldarella, Kylie Westbrooks, and Taurean Guzman [P/INF]) combined to make 208 starts for the Lions this season. That’s 69 more starts than the three seniors who played this season. 

“The younger athletes came in during the fall and for lack of better words, kicked their [upperclassmen] butts in every conditioning drill and all that stuff,” said coach Chmielewski about her freshman.

“They’ve stepped into some roles probably earlier than they had to. With that being said, we pressured them to play like sophomores and they have. I think moving forward; it’ll be good to have them with a year in and some experience.”

Heading into the offseason, the Lions don’t have many questions. Their biggest being whether Chmielewski returns as the official head coach?