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Scott, Taggart lead Lions over Rogers State

JOPLIN, Mo. – (WATCH) Missouri Southern tops Rogers State 84-63 Wednesday night.

Avery Taggart leads the Lions with 19 points, while Stan Scott collects a double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds.

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Lions pull away from Rogers State for 6th straight win

JOPLIN, Mo. – (WATCH) Missouri Southern tops Rogers State 73-56 Wednesday night for their 6th straight win.

Madi Stokes scores a team-high 16 points to go along with 7 rebounds, while freshman Lacy Stokes scores 13 and adds 10 assists and 6 rebounds.

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MSSU baseball preps for Tuesday’s season opener

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Missouri Southern baseball team is less than a week away from their season opener – facing Southwestern Oklahoma State on Tuesday.

“We’re really excited. It’s right around the corner. We’re amped up and ready to go,” says head coach Bryce Darnell, “We’ve had a good off-season, but you never really know until you get out there. Our guys have practiced hard and they’ve prepared well, so we’re ready to go.”

The Lions finished last season with a 30-13 overall record, going 22-11 in MIAA play. That 22-11 record earned the team 3rd place in the conference.

Missouri Southern does lose some important players from last year including Ryan Hunter, Joe Kinder, Troy Gagan, Corey Coway, Will Bausinger and Zach Parish.

Parish was the Division II National Pitcher of the Year last season.

However the Lions return a strong core of talented players, including All-MIAA selections Tommy Stevenson, Jordan Fitzpatrick and Henry Kusiak. All three players finished last season top-15 in the MIAA in RBI.

“Those guys along with Logan VanWey are great players for us and they’ll step into that leadership role, if they didn’t already do some of that last year,” Darnell says, “We got some good young freshmen with (Nate) Mieszkowski and (Treghan) Parker just to mention a couple. Those guys are going to play roles for us and we’re excited to get those guys out there and see what they can do.”

“We have a lot of leaders this year, a lot of returning guys,” Fitzpatrick says, “We have a lot of young guys looking to contribute, too. I think it’s going to be a big deal for us this year to show them the ropes and get them into the swing of things.”

Mieszkowski is a freshman infielder from Grayslake, Illinois. Parker is a utility player from Webb City who was a 1st team All-State selection last spring for the Cardinals.

Parker is one of sixteen players on the MSSU roster to play high school baseball in the Joplin/Springfield area.

“We try to get the best high school players we can get,” Darnell says, “Some of our local guys are really good players. We want those schools like Webb City, Joplin, Carthage, Carl Junction and other local schools to have good players so we have a chance to get them. We’ve also done pretty well with high school players in Illinois with Kusiak and Mieszkowski, so we’ve stressed that area as well. We’ve had good success in that area and we’re excited about those guys.”

While the team is still six days away from their first game together – Fitzpatrick says team chemistry is already a strength.

“It’s super unique. I’ve never been on a team this close,” Fitzpatrick says, “Everybody gets along so well, and I think that’s a special thing. It’s a good quality to have for a good team. I can’t stress how awesome it’s been here since I came to this school. Nobody struggles to get along. It’s such a brotherhood here.”

“That’s something we don’t take lightly,” Darnell says of the team chemistry aspect, “That’s something that’s really important over the course of a baseball season, with all the frustration that comes along with playing the sport of baseball. We definitely stress that and we definitely think that’s important. Our guys know that’s important and we hope to carry on what we’ve been able to do the last few years, as far as our chemistry goes.”

“It’s all about the program. Our coaches have put together a great program ahead of us,” Fitzpatrick adds, “They’ve shown guys what we should be doing, and they’ve passed that down. Now it’s just every season, no matter who comes in, within a couple weeks everybody is already close.”

Southern will play 15 non-conference games to begin the season, before opening MIAA play against Pittsburg State on February 25th.

“They’re important,” Darnell says of the team’s first 16 non-MIAA games, “Like I said, you don’t know what you’ve got until you get in the fire. We’re going to get right in the fire with a good Southwestern Oklahoma team. We’ve played them two of the last three years. We’ve beat them once and they’ve beat us once. It’s a good program and a tough way to begin our season.”

“Every game counts,” Fitzpatrick finishes, “Our coaches put together a tough schedule for us this year. We had a really good fall, and I think we’re all just ready to get out there and show what we can do.”

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Lions grab momentum with wins over #2 Fort Hays State, #14 Nebraska-Kearney

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Missouri Southern Lions are starting to find their groove.

“We’ve got kids who are really starting to believe in each other and in themselves,” says head coach Ronnie Ressel, “It’s fun to watch.”

The Lions have won five straight games – including wins over #2 Fort Hays State and #14 Nebraska-Kearney in the last week.

“We’ve been saying this whole week, why not us? Why don’t we go beat someone who is ranked above us?,” says junior Amaya Johns, “It’s really exciting and all of us were really bought into it, even the trainers and everyone.”

“We talked before we went on the Hays and Kearney trip about earning some respect in our league,” Ressel says, ‘We got off to a good start, but we hadn’t beat anybody who was above us yet. Getting those two wins gave us a lot of confidence and gave us a bit of respect in the league, I believe.”

Building chemistry and trust has paid off for a young Missouri Southern team that is now 9-3 in MIAA play, just one game back of 1st place in the conference.

“Different players have been stepping up each game,” Johns says, “I feel like we all have big trust in Lacy (Stokes). She’s our point guard and we trust her to get to the basket and do what we need to do. We trust Madi (Stokes) getting to the basket as well. I feel like they have confidence and trust in me, too. Even when my shots aren’t falling they tell me to keep shooting and keep attacking. I think we all trust each other and we all love each other.”

“Lacy can make plays. Madi in the post can make plays. Amaya can make plays. Lane can make shots, Brooke can make shots and Kaitlin can make shots,” Ressel continues, “We have different kids who can make plays late in ball games.”

While they’ve taken care of business in the last few weeks – the Lions know it won’t matter unless they finish strong in the final 10 games of their schedule.

“It’s going to be extremely important this week that we do what we need to do and we continue to improve on both ends of the floor,” Ressel adds, “We need to make sure we’re taking our next step in the direction we want to go.”

“We just have to keep going and continue doing what we’re doing,” Johns finishes, “We can’t get complacent because we’ve been winning. We have to keep going hard in practice and staying together and keep playing together.”

The Lions are back in action on Wednesday night, hosting Rogers State. The women’s game begins at 5:30 PM, with the men’s game to follow at 7:30 PM.

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Grant’s career night helps lift Lions over Ichabods

WATCH: Missouri Southern cruises by Washburn 69-50. Lacy Stokes leads the team with 18 points, five rebounds and seven assists. Hailey Grant has a career night, posting a double-double 12 points and 13 rebounds. Amaya Johns adds 15 and Layne Skiles also hits double figures with 10 points plus seven boards.

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Saturday’s Pitt State, MSSU rivalry game postponed

JOPLIN, Mo. – Saturday’s rivalry game between Pitt State and Missouri Southern has been postponed due to COVID protocols within both PSU programs.

The two programs were scheduled to meet in Joplin on Saturday afternoon with the women’s game beginning at 1:30 PM and the men’s game starting at 3:30 PM. They will now make up the games on Wednesday, February 16th – with the women’s game beginning at 5:30 and the men’s game beginning at 7:30 PM.

In addition to the changes this weekend, Pitt State has announced that next Wednesday’s (Jan. 12th) home game against Emporia State has been moved to Thursday, January 13th.

RELEASE FROM PITTSBURG STATE ATHLETICS:

PITTSBURG — Pittsburg State University’s men’s and women’s basketball games scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 8, at Joplin, Mo., against Missouri Southern State University have been postponed due to Covid-19 protocols within both Pitt State programs.

Pitt State will pause both programs until Monday (Jan. 10) and re-evaluate their situations at that time.

With Saturday’s postponement, PSU and MSSU have rescheduled the doubleheader for Wednesday, Feb. 16, with 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. start times at Joplin, Mo., that evening.

Additionally, PSU and Emporia State University have agreed to push back next week’s home doubleheader against the Hornets and Lady Hornets to Thursday (Jan. 13). Those games originally were scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 12.

The ESU women also are currently in Covid-19 protocols and their game scheduled for Saturday (Jan. 8) against Northwest Missouri State University has been postponed. The ESU men’s game against the Bearcats also has been postponed due to protocols within the NWMSU program.

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Stokes finds groove heading into rivalry game against Pitt State

JOPLIN, Mo. – This week is rivalry week for Pitt State and Missouri Southern basketball.

On the women’s side, the Lions have lost four straight games to the rival Gorillas.

For Missouri Southern, sophomore center Madi Stokes has found her groove in the last few games.

Stokes is averaging 17 points and 9.3 rebounds in the last three games – including 21 points and 11 rebounds last time out against Missouri Western.

“We’re going to have to make sure we execute offensively and look to use Madi…in the post a little bit more, as we did against Missouri Western,” says head coach Ronnie Ressel.

Stokes missed the first few weeks of the season due to injury – but has played the last nine game for Missouri Southern, averaging 11 points and 6 rebounds in that span.

“It just felt good to be out there playing with the other four girls and just getting back into playing like myself,” Stokes says of getting back in action, “I’m definitely getting in the gym more and working on my post moves and getting more confident in my post moves, some that I didn’t even use last year. Making sure I’m getting those reps in practice really helps in the games.”

The Lions host the Gorillas on Saturday at 1:30 PM, with the men’s game to follow at roughly 3:30 PM.

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2021 PIGSKIN PREVIEW: Where we were right and wrong

We put out our annual pigskin preview every August – and in that, we have our predictions for the season.

This year was a tough year for predictions with COVID, schedule changes, new coaches and good teams all over the place.

Like every year, we got some right and we got some wrong – and we have no problem admitting we whiffed hard on a few this season.

WRONG: COC standings

We got the top four teams in the COC right, but we messed up the order big time.

I thought Nixa would win it and they finished third. I thought Carthage would finish third and they won it, going 9-0 in the regular season.

We had Joplin 4th and they finished 2nd behind the Tigers.

We had Webb City 2nd and they finished 4th. I don’t regret it or feel bad about it. They went on to win it all. It is what it is.

RIGHT: Lamar Tigers

I almost feel bad taking credit for this because it was a no-brainer, but we had the Lamar tigers going 9-0 and that’s what they did.

Not only that, but it wasn’t really close.

Lamar won their regular season games by an average of 38 points-per-game. The Tigers finished as the Missouri Class 2 state runner-up.

They’re 25-2 with a state title in their first two years under head coach Jared Beshore.

WRONG: Girard Trojans

This team has been bouncing around .500 for years.

We had them picked to go 5-3 and they blew that out of the water.

Girard finished the regular season with a perfect 8-0 record – their first undefeated season since 1999. The Trojans won a district title and a regional title, finishing the year with a 10-1 overall record.

RIGHT: Aurora Houn’Dawgs

I thought the Aurora Houn’Dawgs would take another step forward – and that’s what they did this season.

We had them at 7-2 in our magazine and they finished 7-2.

After losing their season opener, the Houn’Dawgs ripped off 7 straight wins before falling to Nevada in the regular season finale. After that great regular season, their playoff run didn’t last long because….

WRONG: Seneca Indians

The Seneca Indians beat them in the first round.

Seneca is one of our biggest whiffs of the fall. We had them in our magazine at 2-7. They dunked on us and went 5-4 in their first season under head coach Cody Hilburn. Not only that, but these guys turned it on in the playoffs, going on to win a district title and finish with an 8-5 overall record.

Seneca. Guys. We blew it. Sorry.

RIGHT: Galena Bulldogs

Galena finished 7-1 this year and that’s right where we had them.

They lost their season opener at Commerce, Oklahoma – then went on a 7-game winning streak to end the regular season.

The Bulldogs did fall in the first round of the post-season, but they’re one of the best and most consistent programs in the area, going 41-10 the last five seasons.

WRONG: Parsons Vikings

I knew the Parsons Vikings were going to be better in year two under Jeff Schibi. I just didn’t know they would be that much better.

They were 3-6 last season. We picked them to go 4-4. They ended with a 6-2 record in the regular season.

Parsons went on to win a playoff game and finish 7-3 overall.

RIGHT: Missouri Southern Lions

I know you’re thinking “you’re going to take credit for picking them to go 3-8?”

Short answer: yes

In their first season under head coach Atiba Bradley, the Lions went 3-8 as we predicted.

That is significant, because the last time they won three games was all the way back in 2014 when I couldn’t even rent a car.

Southern is headed in the right direction, they’re fun to watch again and they’re going to continue to get better.

WRONG: McDonald County Mustangs

We had the McDonald County Mustangs in our magazine at 6-3. They went 8-1 in the regular season – their best finish since the 60’s.

This team was fun to watch. Their only loss in the regular season was to Lamar, who would go on to finish as the Missouri Class 2 state runner-up, and they finished the regular season on a six-game winning streak.

The Mustangs ended up playing for a district title and finishing 10-2. We were wrong there.

WRAPPING UP

There are more we got right and wrong. Some by a little, some by a lot. These are just the ones that stood out to me.