HEAD COACH BRYCE DARNELL
Bryce Darnell begins his 11th season as head coach at Missouri Southern. He was named the third head baseball coach in Southern baseball history on May 22, 2007. Darnell succeeded coach Warren Turner who retired after 31 years at Southern, including 852 wins and two NCAA Division II College World Series appearances. In ten years, Darnell has a career record of 265-211.
In all, Darnell has coached 65 All-MIAA players, 13 All-Region honorees, and seven All-America selections. He has led the Lions to the MIAA Tournament in seven of the ten seasons at the helm.
The 2017 Lions battled their way to Championship Sunday in the MIAA Tournament and just missed out on a spot in the title game for the second time in three years.
Southern produced eight All-MIAA selections and Max Hogan was the MIAA Player of the Year. Hogan went on to be named an All-Region and All-American selection by three different publications. Hogan was then drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 32nd round of the Major League Baseball Draft.
Along with Hogan, Tyler Sutherland was also an All-Region and All-American selection in 2017. The Lions also saw 14 players named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll.
The 2016 Lions once again won 30 plus games and saw multiple records broken. The team set the school record for home runs in a season, while Jesse Rall broke the single-season record for home runs with 18 and ended the regular season with a streak of 78-straight games reaching base. Payton Walker ended his four-year career as one of the best starting pitchers to ever wear the Green and Gold as he finished his career as the Lions' all-time leader in strikeouts (269), starts (49), and innings pitched (323.1).In 2016, Walker led the entire region in innings pitched with 106.2, which set the Missouri Southern single-season record of 105.1 set in 2013.
The 2015 Lions were the most successful group Darnell has had in his tenure. The Lions went 40-14 and won both the MIAA regular season and tournament titles. The Lions advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years, and Darnell was named the MIAA Coach of the Year.
The Lions also had the MIAA Pitcher of the Year in Cody Hutchinson, while eight Lions were named All-MIAA in total, including first-teamers Hutchinson, Payton Walker, Jesse Rall, and Chris Hoffman. All four players were named All-Region, while Rall, Hutchinson and Hoffman were All-America selections. The Lions also did it well in the classroom as eight were named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll.
The 2014 season saw the highest-ever draft pick to come out of Missouri Southern when Logan Moon was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the sixth round of the Major League Baseball draft in June. Moon was assigned to the Burlington (NC) Royals rookie league team and proceeded to set the Appalachian League on fire upon his arrival. He went on to set a team record for hits and won the league batting title. He finished the season by being named the Royals Rookie League Player of the Year.
Moon was one of four Lions to earn All-MIAA honors in 2014. A third-team pick, Moon joined a trio of seniors (Moon, David Reese and Stephen Vaughn), as well as sophomore Payton Walker who earned league honors. Four other Lions were named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll, as well.
The 2013 season proved to be extremely successful for Darnell as the Lions went 34-22 and won the MIAA Tournament Title with a dramatic walk-off home run from Sam Ryan, giving the Lions a 6-3 win over fifth-ranked Missouri Western. The Lions defeated Western twice during that tournament and had three complete game wins from the pitching staff on the way to the win.
Southern had four wins over top five opponents in 2013 and who could forget the 11-shutout innings thrown by Bret Abel against eventual national runner-up Minnesota State in the opening round of the NCAA Regional. The Lions had seven players named All-MIAA, while two were named to the Central Region All-Tournament team. Shaun Hoover was named to the Central Region Gold Glove team and Thomas Wilson was an Academic All-American.
Southern finished the 2012 season 32-19 and the Lions were 23-17 in the MIAA, good enough for a third place finish in the league. Although the season ended with a defeat in the first round of the MIAA Tournament, the year was full of plenty of highs. The Lions started the year 11-0 and jumped into the National Poll at No. 24. After moving their record to 15-1, the Lions moved all the way up to No. 11 in Division II. The Lions finished the year batting .310 as a team and had a 3.74 team ERA. Southern also broke a school record for fielding percentage finishing the year with a .962 average.
Senior pitcher Cody Griebling was named a first-team All-MIAA selection and a second team All-Region pick after going 9-4 with 74 strikeouts and a 3.19 ERA. Luke Acosta was a second-team All-MIAA pick, while Jesse Kinzey, Cullen Baxter, Michael McCoy, Sam Ryan and David Reese were all named honorable mention All-MIAA. Griebling kept his high going as he signed a professional contract to play baseball with the Schaumburg Boomers of the independent Frontier League.
The Lions had six players named All-MIAA in 2011 as Dallas Burke was a first-team selection at utility after splitting time at catcher, outfield and designated hitter. Both Jesse Kinzey and Dane Kolkmeyer were second-team selections, while newcomers Brett Abell and Cody Griebling picked up honorable mention status after anchoring the Lions' pitching staff. Senior Patrick Deao was also named an honorable mention pick after he led the Lions with eight outfield assists this year and was tied for the team lead with five home runs and 60 hits. Southern finished just a half game out of the hunt for an MIAA Tournament bid at 24-26 overall.
The 2010 Missouri Southern baseball team continued its resurgence under coach Bryce Darnell and made the MIAA post season tournament for the second-straight year. The Lions had their second-straight winning record with a 28-26 mark and finished third in the MIAA Tournament, losing out to eventual Division II World Series participant Central Missouri. Southern also set a school record for home runs in a season (64) beating the previous mark of 51.
The Lions had, at one time, the toughest schedule in Division II, but fought through a rough 3-14 start to go 14-5 over its next 19 games and finished the regular season as the fifth seed in the MIAA Tournament. Southern had four players named All-MIAA and two were named All-Region with senior shortstop Jacob Taylor picking up All-American honors. Junior catcher Joe Lincoln was drafted in the 34th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers and both Taylor and fellow senior CJ Maffei signed professional contracts, as well.
Darnell's second season saw a dramatic turnaround (the best in the NCAA in 2009) that led to the Lions finishing 35-20 overall, third place in the MIAA and the program's first trip to the MIAA Tournament since 2002. The Lions, throughout the course of the year, saw such highs including taking three out of four games from eventual national runner up Emporia State and shutting out Central Missouri twice in the same season, a feat that has rarely, if ever, been accomplished.
The Lions had eight players named All-MIAA and both CJ Maffei and Skyler Rawlins were named All-Region. The team won its first game at the MIAA Tournament and was in contention for an NCAA Regional berth all season. Coming into this year, both Maffei and Rawlins have been tabbed pre-season All-Americans.
Darnell's first season as the head coach at his alma mater saw the team improve in wins, both overall and in conference play, and saw the young Lions squad play one of the most difficult schedules in NCAA Division II. The team won 16 games in MIAA play, including an exciting 3-2 win over MIAA Champ and Division II World Series Participant Central Missouri.
A 1997 graduate of Missouri Southern, Darnell had been the head baseball coach at Webb City High School for eight years, while also teaching social studies at the school. His baseball teams at Webb City won two Missouri Class 3 State Championships. Darnell amassed a 160-43 career record at Webb City and was the Joplin Globe Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2005, while being named the Missouri Class 3 Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2006.
A three-year player for the Lions from 1994-1996, Darnell transferred to Southern after a year at the University of Minnesota. A Brooklyn Center, Minn. native, Darnell was a three-sport athlete at BCHS being named all-state in baseball and football, as well as all-conference in basketball. Darnell played for his father, Doug, at BCHS. Doug Darnell was also the Athletic Director at BCHS.
Darnell hit .436 in 30 games as a sophomore for the Lions in 1994, which is the sixth highest batting average in a season at Southern. He was named honorable mention All-MIAA that year. He had his best season in 1995, helping the Lions to a 43-13 record, including a 17-3 mark in MIAA play. He hit .364 that year with 13 doubles, three homers and 47 RBIs en route to being named first-team all-region and All-MIAA. The Lions were second in the MIAA Postseason Tournament and made an appearance in the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament.
Darnell's senior season saw the catcher hit .339 with 20 doubles, four homers and 48 RBIs in 55 games. The 20 doubles is fifth all-time in a season at Southern. He was named honorable mention All-MIAA that year. Darnell was drafted after his junior season in the 40th round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He was later drafted after his senior season in the 58th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He played in 1996 for the Visalia Oaks, a single A affiliate of the Diamondbacks.
Darnell's .577 on base percentage as a sophomore ranks third in a season, while his .996 fielding percentage (1 error) in 1995 is second all-time. He ranks seventh in career doubles with 40, while ranking sixth in batting average (.366) and seventh in fielding percentage
He holds a degree in Secondary Education from Missouri Southern (1997), as well as a Masters in Educational Administration from Missouri State University (2000).
Darnell has a wife, Pamela and two children, Darcy (16), and Cy (13).