Last season, the Kennesaw State softball team won their first Atlantic Sun Conference title under head coach Pete D’Amour, posting 39 wins while fielding a team of just three seniors. A year later now, new head coach Tripp MacKay will look to continue that success with a team that is more experienced.
MacKay comes to KSU with vast experience at the top levels of college softball, guiding Big 12 schools Oklahoma and Texas to success as an assistant coach.
He spent eight seasons at Oklahoma, helping them earn two conference titles and the 2013 NCAA Division I National Championship. That season, the Sooners set Big 12 single-season records for runs and runs batted in.
After leaving Norman, MacKay went south to Austin, Texas, where he became an assistant coach for the Longhorns for the past two seasons.
Making two NCAA postseason appearances with Texas, MacKay earned his way to his first head coaching position after D’Amour took the same position at Virginia Tech.
“I am excited to be named head coach of the Kennesaw State softball program and look forward to meeting the team and getting to know the student-athletes,” Mackay said. “KSU softball has great potential, and I know it will continue to grow.”
In addition to the three seniors who graduated last season, three other players from last year’s championship squad will not be on the team that Mackay inherits.
Star pitcher Alley Cutting, who was the 2017 ASUN Freshman of the Year, transferred to the University of Georgia after two successful seasons at KSU.
During her career at KSU, Cutting compiled a 37-20 record, a 2.04 career earned run average and logged 347 strikeouts. Her freshman season, she set the school record for innings pitched with 201.1.
Last season’s offensive leader Patricia Awald transferred to Georgia Tech after her freshman season at KSU. She led the team in batting average, home runs and runs batted in.
The first-year star played both first base and catcher, playing in 54 games and serving as a constant source of production at the plate.
2017 ASUN All-Freshman selection Katey Lynch will also not return to the team after suffering a number of injuries last season.
For all of the players that the team will miss from last year, many returning players will be there to help steer the team toward success.
Senior Kira Czyrklis was a first-team ASUN All-Conference star who posted a .317 average and led the team with 11 games with multiple runs batted in. She was also a key part of the postseason run for the Owls, being named in the All-Tournament team.
Utility player Maddie Roth was a second-team All-Conference selection last season after putting up a .377 batting average and hitting 13 doubles. The senior will be tasked to continue that consistency this season.
Pitcher Hailey Andrews, another senior, will have to fill the shoes of Cutting as the main pitcher this season. Tossing three complete games last season, she will be needed to put in even more innings as the Owls seek to defend their conference title.
The Owls begin their season at home in a doubleheader, as they face Eastern Illinois on Friday, Feb. 8, at 5:30 p.m. before playing Morehead State at 7 p.m.