MISSOULA – The defending Big Sky champion Griz softball team brings back almost everybody. They also add a key piece that was missing in their late season run. MaKenna McGill is back in center field and at the top of the lineup.
The senior from Oklahoma’s best skill is also why she missed the second half of last season. McGill tore her ACL chasing down a fly ball.
Now she’s back at full strength, second on the team in batting average (.356) while leading the Griz in hits (32) and runs scored (22), and fearlessly patrolling the gaps in the outfield once again. McGill finds the plays on the diamond much easier than what she was left doing in the dugout last year.
‘It was really hard. Obviously it was me finding a different role for the first time in my career here. I had to accept the role of being on the bench and supporting my teammates,” she said, while adding she usually doesn’t talk much during games.
McGill added she is not holding back at all, and doesn’t worry about another full-speed run to the warning track. “Talking to people who have gone through ACL surgery, what they told me is ‘I’m only going to be as limited as I allow myself to be,'” she said. “So it was how much could I face, and just letting loose knowing that tomorrow my career could be over and accepting that.”
“MaKenna is one of the best outfielders I’ve ever coached, let alone in our conference,” said Griz head coach Melanie Meuchel. “Anytime a ball goes up in the outfield, she adds a lot more range to our outfield, and I think we can cover a lot of ground. It’s nice to have her there, and then she’s kind of a spark plug at the top of the order for us.”
McGill and the Grizzlies throw out the first pitch of conference play this weekend. Montana (12-17) travels to Idaho State (4-18) for a doubleheader on Saturday, and a single game on Sunday.