By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
There’s a lot to like about Missouri Southern left fielder Michael McCoy.
That’s especially true if you’re Lions head coach Bryce Darnell.
A batting average of .376, 34 runs scored, 38 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 18 attempts. Those are the kind of numbers that reach out to a baseball coach.
And, from a coach’s perspective, the right-handed McCoy has more — much more — going for him than statistics even if they are impressive.
“He’s quiet and takes care of business,” Darnell said Thursday. “He does what you ask. He’s no-nonsense. He’s hard-nosed. He’s a tough kid. He comes to play.
“He doesn’t care about the position he plays in the field. He doesn’t care where he bats (apparently he’s settled into the No. 2 hole). He just wants to play and contribute to winning,” Darnell said.
The 6-foot McCoy, who packs some 180-182 pounds, is a junior at Missouri Southern after two years of junior college at Dallas Mountain View. He prepped at Mesquite (Texas) John Horn.
“You think you always are signing a good player,” Darnell said. “We thought we were getting a good consistent player. Did I think we were getting someone hovering around a .375 average. I’m not sure of that. He’s been consistent and productive.
“One of our former coaches, Kyle Denney (scouting then for the Diamondbacks), heard about Michael, called Coach Tuck (Southern assistant Nick Tuck) and suggested we check out this guy.”
McCoy’s second junior college season produced a spot on the No. 3 All-American Team.
“That was as a shortstop,” McCoy said. “But in high school I was a catcher as a junior before moving to shortstop. I considered myself a utility player. I played everywhere.
“Playing shortstop isn’t a big deal,” McCoy said. “Just as long as we’re winning.”
Added Darnell: “He’s improved, too (since arriving at Southern). He’s a little bigger and stronger.”
Darnell described the batting swing employed by McCoy as “short, simple and consistent.”
The .376 average and 56 hits lead the Lions. His runs scored trail only Luke Acosta’s 45. McCoy’s 10 doubles trail Acosta (14) and Tee Helsel (13). The thefts and RBI also are No.1 and the .424 on-base percentage trails only Cullen Baxter (.442). McCoy has struck out only nine times.
McCoy, a native of Dallas, was scheduled to take an official visit to Missouri Southern on May 23 (a date after the tornado).
“We’d left early that day,” McCoy said; “We didn’t know how bad it was. The Southern coaches said we should plan to take the visit on another day. We returned home. But I decided to come when we saw it on TV. I wanted to volunteer and do what I could.”
McCoy’s girlfriend, Ashley Brunner, and two more friends from Texas, Savannah Foster and Ashley Mozingo, came to Joplin.
McCoy, a criminal justice, has no regrets about selecting Missouri Southern.
“There was just something about Missouri Southern and Joplin,” said McCoy, who turns 23 on Nov. 15. “I liked Joplin. I liked the Missouri Southern coaches. I liked the way the community pulled together and worked after the tornado. I’m very happy. Signing with Southern was a good deal.”
Missouri Southern coaches occasionally call McCoy the “Dirty Texan” in reference to his business-like approach on the field.
“He just does it. There’s nothing flashy or spectacular. ... just solid,” Darnell said.
The Lions resume their MIAA schedule today by opening a four-game series against Lincoln in Jefferson City with a 1 p.m. doubleheader. A second twinbill will start at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Southern takes a record of 26-16 overall and 17-15 in the MIAA into the weekend.
“We do control our destiny in the conference postseason tournament,” McCoy said.