Lions head to Oklahoma with new assistant coach and strong pitching

The Missouri Southern women’s softball team kicks off its season this weekend in Durant Okla., at the Central Regional Crossover tournament.

The team was picked 11th in preseason in the MIAA Coaches Poll.

“The first game of the season is important just so we can see how we are going to gel and mold [this] weekend,” Head Coach Bill Gray said.

The Lions are returning five starters from last season, as well as adding nine freshmen and one redshirt freshman to its roster.  

“As far as softball goes you have to have pitching. If we can have some pitching and allow us to build a lead or scratch a run or two out when we need to win a ball game will be huge,” Gray said.

The coaching approach will see a slight change this season, according to Gray.

“We’re going to be a little bit more aggressive on base pass. Take advantage of catchers’ missed cues and not glaring ones [either], smaller ones that puts them in a bad throwing stance that gives our girls a chance if they are looking to be aggressive, we have a chance to put runners in scoring position,” he said.

New assistant coach Jenna Smart has been working with the pitchers and Gray says her influence “has helped that become more achievable.”  

Infielder Dawn Grass will be coming off injury this season as a redshirt junior, she has lead the team in home runs two of the last three seasons.

Grass has tied the record in single season her sophomore year and is expected to break the career record and or the single season as well.

Returning sophomore Dru Coleman underwent shoulder surgery before Christmas last year and will have some help behind the plate with recent transfer Kathryn Goins.

Goins transferred as a sophomore from Seminole State.

Looking at the Lions’ roster, a pattern in Gray’s recruiting style stands out.

“We are obviously looking to find talent to fill our holes. We stick a little more regionally,” he said.

“On our roster we have Purdy, Mo.; Webb City, Mo.; Galena, Kan.; Ozark, Mo.; and Pierce City, Mo; we are going to the stay in the area of the Lion Pride scholarship here in the four-state area and up into the St. Louis, Mo., and Chicago, Ill., area just trying to build the recruiting base,” Gray said.

“We have a good solid base of leadership and followers and now it’s going to be once we get on the field, how is that going to translate.”