Hallie Blackney became the third Missouri Southern softball coach to be named MIAA Coach of the Year on Wednesday afternoon, the league office announced.

Blackney is the first Lions coach to win the honor since Rob Faubion guided the team to the 2001 regular and postseason crowns. Renowned coach Pat Lipira was a five-time winner of the award (1990, ‘92, ‘93, ‘95 and ‘98).

The Lions were picked to finish 11th in the preseason poll but surpassed outside expectations by placing third with a 28-13-1, 19-6-1 MIAA record.

Blackney, who is in her third season at the helm, has played an instrumental part in turning around the Southern softball program. She has achieved the first back-to-back winning seasons for the Lions since 2001-02 and the first top-3 conference finish since MSSU won the regular and postseason MIAA crowns in 2001.

Shortstop Josie Tofpi was named a first-team All-MIAA selection to go with seven other Lions who earned All-MIAA honors.

Tofpi, a sophomore from Moore, Oklahoma, has started all 42 games this season and leads the Lions with a .410 batting average, 55 hits, 34 runs scored, 13 doubles, 32 RBI, 81 total bases, a .604 slugging percentage and a .459 on-base percentage.

Other Southern honorees included Ashlynn Williams (second-team catcher) and Kara Amos (second-team utility).

Williams started 40 games for the Lions and posted a .302 batting average while slugging four home runs and driving in 32 runs. Amos went 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA in 21 appearances, while hitting .337 with four long balls and 24 RBI.

Earning honorable mention were senior second baseman Makaila Leonhart, junior pitcher Abby Atkin, sophomore utility player Leighton Withers and freshmen outfielders Yazmin Vargas and Adrianna Young.

Missouri Southern starts the MIAA Tournament this weekend, playing host to Missouri Western in a best-of-three series at 3 p.m. Friday. Two games will be played Friday, and a third game, if necessary, is Saturday afternoon.

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