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MSU hires new pitching coach



Taryne Mowatt-McKinney
Taryne Mowatt-McKinney

Story from MSU Athletics:
 Mississippi State softball has found its next pitching coach. Head coach Samantha Ricketts announced the hiring of Taryne Mowatt-McKinney on Friday afternoon as an assistant coach.

Most known for her record-setting performance at the 2007 Women’s College World Series, the former WCWS MVP and All-American had spent the last six years as the pitching coach at her alma mater, Arizona. She is also familiar with the SEC and the state of Mississippi, having spent two years at in-state rival Ole Miss during the program’s most successful seasons on record.

“We are so excited to welcome Taryne and her family to Starkville,” Ricketts said. “She is a proven winner at all levels and is one of the most competitive people I know. Her experience and expertise has guided pitchers to the World Series and numerous national honors, which is exactly what we were looking for to lead our pitching staff.”

In her six seasons at Arizona, the Wildcats made three consecutive trips to the WCWS (2019-22) and enjoyed their best pitching seasons since Mowatt-McKinney herself was in the circle. Arizona posted three straight seasons with sub-2.00 staff ERAs from 2018-2020, something that had not been accomplished since 2006-2008, her sophomore-senior seasons. She guided Wildcat pitchers to a pair of All-American honors, three all-region awards and seven All-Pac-12 honors. In addition, both Taylor McQuillin and Alyssa Denham went on to professional careers with Athletes Unlimited.

Mowatt-McKinney’s pitching staff did not lose a game through the Regional and Super Regional rounds back on their way to the WCWS in 2022. That year, she was a part of the program that eliminated Mississippi State in the Starkville Super Regional.

In the shortened 2020 season Arizona’s pitchers had compiled a 1.73 ERA, which ranked No. 15 nationally. In 2019, the Wildcats were even better in the circle, finishing sixth in the NCAA with a 1.61 ERA and holding opponents to a .183 average, the lowest opposing batting average at Arizona since 2006. In her first season back in Tucson, Mowatt-McKinney’s pitchers turned in a 1.94 ERA and a .193 opposing batting average while McQuillin led the nation in shutouts (15).

“I’ve known Sam for a long time and have seen the success she’s had with the Mississippi State program,” Mowatt-McKinney said. “She’s building a culture that will be successful for a very long time, and I want to be a part of it. My family and I are excited to be back in the South, and it will be nice to hear the cowbells ringing for us and not against us this time.”

Prior to coaching at her alma mater, Mowatt-McKinney spent two years in Oxford, where her overhaul of the pitching staff helped lead a turnaround in the Rebels program. When she took over as pitching coach, she inherited a staff that totaled a 4.30 ERA in 2015. Her pitchers improved by more than a run to 3.26 in 2016, and shaved off even more in 2017 to 2.10, knocking off more than two runs (2.20) in just two seasons.

In 2016, the Rebels made their first NCAA Tournament appearance. In her second season, they won the SEC Tournament Championship, hosted NCAA Regionals and reached the Super Regionals for the first time school history. Under her leadership, the pitching staff set records for wins, innings pitched and complete games. The Rebels won a school-record 41 games in her first season. The next year, they improved to 43 wins while recording a school-record 17 shutouts.

Mowatt-McKinney was responsible for turning two-time JUCO All-American Kaitlin Lee into the 2017 SEC Tournament MVP and an All-SEC arm. In just two years, Lee climbed into the Ole Miss top 10 in wins, shutouts, ERA, innings pitched, games started, opposing batting average and complete games before being selected by the Aussie Spirit in the 2018 NPF Draft.

Mowatt-McKinney began her collegiate coaching career at California Baptist (2012-14). There she helped the team to NCAA Regional appearances each year and two PacWest Conference championships in 2012 and 2014. Her pitching staff was made up of program-record holders for wins, innings pitched and complete games. She also coached a conference pitcher of the year, freshman pitcher of the year and three all-conference honorees.

As a player, Mowatt-McKinney was the ace of back-to-back national championship teams for Arizona in 2006 and 2007. She earned WCWS MVP honors in 2007 after putting together one of the best weeks in the circle that the sport has ever seen. She set WCWS records for innings pitched (60), strikeouts (76) and complete games (8), while leading the Wildcats to their eighth national title. She later won a pair of ESPYs for her performance and was named a Second Team All-American.

The Corona, California, native won exactly 100 games in her Wildcat career. Her 100-33 career record ranks seventh in Arizona history, and she is second in school history in both strikeouts (1,267) and innings pitched (877.2). She threw six no-hitters, including a perfect game.

Following her collegiate career, Mowatt was selected in the first round of the 2008 NPF Draft as the No. 6 overall pick by the Washington Glory. She played for five teams throughout her six years as a professional, including one season in Holland competing for the Den Bosch Gryphons.

Mowatt-McKinney is joined in Starkville by her wife, Brittany McKinney, a former catcher at North Carolina. She gave birth to her son, Lincoln, in January 2022

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