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NEO names Burnett head softball coach

RELEASE FROM NEO ATHLETICS:

Following the retirement of Coach Eric Iverson after 26 years, administrators at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) have announced that Bailey Burnett will take the helm of the NEO Softball Program.

Iverson announced his retirement earlier this year and Burnett was selected by a search committee led by Athletic Director Joe Renfro.

“I am extremely impressed with Coach Burnett’s professionalism, goals, and enthusiasm towards NEO softball,” said Renfro. “She will obviously have big shoes to fill, but I am confident she is up to the challenge.”

Burnett comes to NEO from Neosho Community College, where she helped bring the team to its first winning record in six years. Before Neosho, she also served on the coaching staff at Central Christian College of Kansas, where she worked with infielders.

In addition to her coaching experience, Burnett has on-field experience at both the two-year and four-year college level, earning All-Region Honors as a catcher for Allen Community College. She was also an NAIA All-American Scholar while playing for Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan. She earned her B.A. in Athletic Training from Tabor and her M.S. in Educational Leadership from Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kan.

“Bailey is a very educated, talented, and energetic individual who we believe will continue the tradition of national success,” added Renfro. “I am excited for the future of our Lady Norse student athletes.”

Lady Norse Softball is set to kick off the spring 2022 season in February following a 33-13 season and Region II Tournament Final appearance. For more information on Lady Norse Softball, contact Lisa Severe at lsevere@neo.edu.

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Beiter throws complete game shutout; Griffons roll by Outlaws

WATCH: Chase Beiter (MSSU) throws a complete game shutout, allowing just 3 hits and striking out 10 Monday night – leading the Nevada Griffons to an 8-0 win over the Joplin Outlaws.

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Three University of Hawaii at Hilo athletes join the Outlaws for a summer in Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Joplin Outlaws have attracted talent from all over the country to join their roster for a summer of baseball in Joplin. Lawson Faria, Christian DeJesus and John Kea come all the way from Hawaii, where they play for the University of Hawaii at Hilo. To them, a summer in Joplin, Missouri meant entering a big unknown.

“My first question to [my coach] was, ‘Where’s the Mink League? What is the Mink League?’” pitcher John Kea says.

Missouri is the farthest east in the United States they’ve ever traveled.

“At first I thought it was Kansas, so I looked into Kansas,” pitcher Christian DeJesus says.

“I had no clue about anything in Missouri or anything close to it. I actually went to Oklahoma one time, but I didn’t know it was close,” infielder Lawson Faria adds.

Upon arrival, some specific differences stood out to the teammates.

“On our island, every house and everything is bunched together as close as possible,” DeJesus says. “Over here everything is more spaced out and relaxed, so I kind of like that.”

“In Hawaii we eat a lot of rice,” Kea says. “Here you’ve got rice pilaf and potatoes. We’re really used to eating a lot of white rice. I think it’s called sticky rice up here.”

The community and fan support has impressed the trio.

“I love being in this atmosphere,” DeJesus says. “Everyone that comes out to Joe Becker Stadium is a life long fan, probably. They love us out here. They love to see us play every night. I got into one game and it was crazy to pitch in front out of everybody on Opening Day.”

The competition in the Mink League is strong and each of them is looking to return home with improvements to their game.

“Out here, getting in these innings, I hope that I will be able to dial in more on new things and work on my craft and go back into Hawaii next year a better pitcher,” DeJesus says.

Despite the many differences, their experience has been a positive one.

“I just had an open mind as to what the area was,” Faria says. “I was just excited to play baseball. I think it’s exceeded my expectations as far as the environment, the fans, the team we got going.”

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Chambers, Wilkerson named 1st team All-Americans

NEOSHO, Mo. – Crowder’s Logan Chambers and Landrey Wilkerson receive top honors from the NJCAA. They were both named first team All-Americans earlier this week.

“When they released it there were a lot of emotions,” Chambers says. “I was excited and shocked at the same time. Actually seeing my name on the list along with Landrey just caused great emotion in a good way. I won’t take it for granted. It’s a very special honor.”

“It was really exciting,” Wilkerson says of his experience learning the news. “I was really amazed and not really surprised but surprised at the same time. It was just a humbling experience. I’m just glad I got to do it with one of my teammates.”

The teammates were in quick contact with one another upon the list’s release.

“It wasn’t even five minutes after that he contacted me and I was contacting him to say congratulations,” Chambers says. “It’s such a great honor for both of us.”

It was an impressive final season as Roughriders for both Chambers and Wilkerson. Wilkerson finished the season with 20 home runs and 72 RBI. As for Chambers, he lead DI in runs (90), hits (107) and doubles (36). He also tallied 76 RBI.

It was also a great season for the team. Crowder made a deep postseason run, falling in the semifinals of JUCO World Series.

“From all the 6 ams and the hard work we did, to go as far as we did in the World Series, to have the year we had and to have a couple guys get honors like All-American and things like that, it made it very special,” Chambers says. “What the team had was already special but to add on to it was great.”

Chambers and Wilkerson both attribute their success to the help of their coaches and teammates.

“Without the success my coaches and teammates had, I couldn’t have had success individually,” Chambers says. ” Without them this wouldn’t be possible.”

“In our lineup, you hit for the person behind you and you just want to keep passing the torch,” Wilkerson adds.

It’s certainly not the end for these two. Wilkerson will be continuing his career with the Razorbacks in Arkansas. Chambers is also headed to a D1 school. He’s moving on to play at Tennessee.

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Tri-State 66ers bring minor league basketball to Pittsburg

PITTSBURG, Kan. – Minor league basketball has come to Pittsburg.

“We’re trying to structure it like it’s the best basketball in the spring and summer outside of the NBA.”

The Tri-State 66ers play their home games at the YMCA in Pittsburg.

They’re in the first season playing in the Mid-South division of the Professional Basketball Association.

“The way it’s structured, it’s a great league,” says 66ers owner and head coach Tim Simpson, “It gives some opportunities…because we’re also partnered with the EuroLeague. Film, stats and anything that’s generated this season goes over to places like that, so they’re able to scout and hopefully give these guys an opportunity to play overseas.”

“I’ve seen players go different places and play for different teams. I just want to be one of them, you know?” says player Lee Reliford, “I’m just seeing where I can take it, and see where it goes from here. It just feels good to be back out here playing again.”

“My goal is to get these guys somewhere in a league where they can be making some serious money,” Simpson adds.

The roster is mostly made up of players from the Pittsburg, Joplin, Springfield and Kansas City areas – giving local guys a chance to show what they can do.

“It is pretty nice…=not having to drive three hours to go play somewhere,” Reliford says with a laugh, “It’s been pretty nice. I think it should be pretty fun.”

Those guys are hoping the local community comes out to see for themselves.

“We play a very exciting brand of basketball,” Simpson says, “We play up-tempo. Defense-wise, we’re always up in peoples’ faces.”

“We’re going to put on a show. It’s going to be a great time,” Reliford finishes, “We’re going to make it worth the time.”

The 66ers have a home game on Saturday (6/12) at 5 PM against the Oklahoma Kings. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids.

Click HERE to learn more about the PBA.

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Pitt State hires Fuller to lead softball program

PITTSBURG, Kan. – Pittsburg State has hired Jenny Fuller to lead the Gorillas’ softball program, the school announced on Friday.

Fuller comes to Pittsburg from Northern State, where she went 85-80 in four seasons leading the Wolves.

She takes over for former head coach Ashley Balazs, who resigned in may after four seasons leading the Pitt State program.

RELEASE FROM PITTSBURG STATE ATHLETICS:

Pittsburg State University athletic director Jim Johnson announced today (June 11) the hiring of Jenny Fuller as head softball coach for the Gorillas.

She replaces former head coach Ashley Balazs, who resigned from her position in May after leading the Gorillas the past four seasons.

“We are excited to have Jenny join the Gorilla family and Pittsburg community as our head softball coach,” Johnson said. “She is an experienced collegiate head coach with a proven track record of success at the Division II level. Her playing and coaching career was a great fit for our softball program. Additionally, Jenny and her husband, Brad, are extremely excited to be a part of the Pittsburg community.

“Everyone we talked to had nothing but great things to say about Jenny and her coaching ability, her recruiting ability, the culture she builds as a leader and her focus on ensuring student-athletes have a great collegiate experience.”

Fuller comes to Pitt State after serving as head coach at NCAA Division II member Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., the past four seasons (2018-2021). She led the Wolves to an 85-80 overall record, including a 23-20 mark this past spring. In 2020, NSU opened the season on a 10-game winning streak and compiled a program-best 15-4 start before the season was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fuller also served as head coach at NAIA member Cardinal Stritch University for two years (2016-17), compiling a 59-36 record leading the Wolves including a 30-13 mark in 2016.

She has a 144-116 (.554) record in six seasons as a collegiate head coach.

“I am very honored to have been selected as the head softball coach at Pittsburg State University,” Fuller said. “The facilities, administrative support, and fan involvement at Pitt are unmatched in Division II, and I am excited to begin working on developing our standard of excellence in the softball program. I would like to thank President Scott, Jim Johnson, and the search committee for providing this opportunity to become part of Gorilla Nation!”

Prior to Cardinal Stritch, Fuller served as the assistant and interim head softball coach at NCAA Division III University of Texas at Dallas. A total of four softball student-athletes were named to the All-ASC teams including one first-team honoree.

Fuller began her collegiate coaching career at McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas, where she was an assistant softball and pitching coach. In her four years at MCC, Fuller coached two first team All-Conference pitchers, as well as six All-Conference position players and the conference Co-MVP. McLennan advanced to the 2011 National Championships and in 2014 won the Region 5 North Conference Championship finishing with a record of 46-8.

Fuller is a 2007 graduate of McLennan Community College with an Associate Degree in Arts and Business, as well as a 2009 and 2011 graduate of Baylor University with a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Science in Sport Management.

She began her collegiate playing career at McLennan where she was an NFCA first-team All-American pitcher, NJCAA second-team All-American, and a participant in the National Junior College World Series. She went on to pitch two years at Baylor University earning Academic Big 12 honors and playing in the 2009 Ann Arbor Super Regional. Following her collegiate career, Fuller played one professional season with the Freising Grizzlies of the German Bundeslegia league.

Jenny and her husband, Brad, have a daughter, Emma, 4.

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Pitt State team camp puts players on the other side of the game

PITTSBURG, Kan. – Pitt State’s annual high school team camp is a big undertaking for head coach Amanda Davied and her program.

Over the next 9 days, around 130 teams will play more than 230 games between 11 different locations in the Pittsburg area, including at Pitt State’s John Lance Arena.

“It’s something that’s been established, and so it’s the same dates every year, except for last year, obviously with the pandemic,” says coach Davied, “We’ve had a lot of loyal teams coming over the years, so it was great to see everybody again.”

The first session of the camp started on Wednesday morning.

For the players at Pitt State it puts them on the other side of the game for a couple weeks.

“We get up at 7 AM for weights, and then come up here and work games from nine-to-six,” says senior guard Tristan Gegg.

“They do all the t-shirts, they do the scorekeeping and other stuff,” Davied says of her players, “One of our girls, Shayla Kohler, actually organized the entire dorm setting. She organized 400 kids in the dorms. She wants to get into basketball operations, and so she’s doing some of the logistics with it. It’s really cool. It gets us to work with our kids in a totally different environment.”

It’s also one of the first times incoming freshmen get to work with their new teammates.

“It’s been so much fun. I love being around the girls,” says incoming freshman Karenna Gerber (Halstead HS), “They’re great people and really fun to play with. Getting used to the style of play is a little different than high school, obviously. It’s a lot faster. Having great teammates, they’ve really helped me adjust, and I’m really excited for the season to start.”

“One of the biggest factors is just that they get acclimated to their environment,” Davied says of her incoming players, “It’s not like when they come to campus in August it’s the first time they’ve been here, and it’s just information overload, and stimulus overload.”

“This is a really good chance for the freshmen and incoming people to get acquainted with the team,” Gegg says, “We scrimmage on camp days as well. It’s just a really good time to come together for the first time before the season.”

The first session of Pitt State’s team camp runs from June 9th-June 11th, with the second session running from June 16th-June 18th. Coach Davied says there are 63 teams booked for the first camp, with 73 expected to be in town next week.

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DeLaTorre reflects on baseball career at South Alabama

MOBILE, Ala. – Kaleb DeLaTorre is a long way from southeast Kansas – but his journey to Mobile, Alabama has been worth it.

“If you told me in elementary school I’d be in Alabama in college, I would have told you no way,” DeLaTorre says, “It’s been everything I expected and more. I took a chance, and it’s been awesome. I’ve met some of my best friends here, and we got to play at some really cool places. I’ve made memories that will last a lifetime here.”

*FULL INTERVIEW BELOW*

The former Fort Scott High School standout just finished up his collegiate career for the University of South Alabama on Monday.

The Jags made an impressive run in the postseason, claiming a Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship and making it all the way to the Gainesville regional finals in Florida before falling to South Florida to end the year with a 36-22 overall record.

“It was incredible. This team is really special,” DeLaTorre says of his team’s postseason run, “We’re all brothers. It was kind of one of those things where we got hot at the right time. What we did the last couple weeks was incredible. We made history together, and I couldn’t be more proud of that.”

DeLaTorre came on late for the Jags in their postseason run. He was 6-16 (.375 AVG) in the team’s final four games, hitting two home runs and driving in five.

That includes a 4-5 performance against Florida in their second game of the regional tournament – a game South Alabama won 19-1.

“I think that game really tells the story of our team,” DeLaTorre says, “We lost the first game to Miami 1-0. We could have laid down and packed it in and went home. We showed up and we were ready to go. We ran their starter out in the first inning. My first at-bat we were already up 1-0…they called time and sent their whole bullpen to the outfield. We knew as soon as they did that, we were like we got this, let’s get after them. We made a statement that game, and really put our school on the map with that win.”

DeLaTorre was a 4-year standout for Fort Scott High School, leading the Tigers to four consecutive SEK titles. He started his college career at Neosho CC in Chanute, Kansas, where he earned All-KJCCC recognition in each of his two seasons with the Panthers (2017, 2018).

His senior season at South Alabama, he finished with a .235 batting average, hitting 8 home runs with 34 RBI.

The southeast Kansas kid is a long way from where he started, but he still feels the love from the place he grew up.

“I would have a good game, and I would get on my phone and I would have texts and calls from all the people back home,” DeLaTorre says, “That’s special. I couldn’t be more thankful for all the support I got for all these years. It was really cool, especially this weekend with everyone checking in on me and watching these games on national television, it was really cool.”

His baseball journey has taken him to Mobile, Alabama.

Although the baseball part is now over for DeLaTorre, it’s a place he has come to love – and he plans on sticking around.

“I applied to PTA school down here. I think I’m going to stay down here for a few years,” DeLaTorre says of his future, “I love it down here. Having the beach is cool, too. I’m obviously hitting the golf course a little bit,” he adds with a laugh, “I have a lot more free time now. I’m just trying to figure out what to do next. I’ve met some really great people on my baseball journey. I have connections all over the country now because of that. I couldn’t be more thankful for that, and everything the game has given to me. It’s been a great ride, and I’m very thankful.”