Missouri State rallies from a four-run deficit, but drops the quarterfinal matchup against Bradley to end the season
Missouri State holds on for 4-3 win against UNI to advance to quarterfinals later today versus Bradley
Missouri State will face UNI in the opening round of the MVC Tournament in Normal, Ill., on Thursday
Missouri State scores twice in seventh to win regular season finale and advance to MVC Tournament
Missouri State controls its own destiny to make the MVC Tournament as it wraps up the regular season with three games at Evansville
Head Coach Holly Hesse previews the MVC Softball Tournament
Head coach Holly Hesse talks about the great opportunity the Bears had to play the NPF All-Stars
Head coach Holly Hesse discusses doubleheader split at home against Bradley
Head coach Holly Hesse enters her 26th season leading the Bears' program as the second-winningest coach in Missouri Valley Conference history with 646 victories. Hesse joined the 600-victory club with the Bears' season-opening 7-2 win over Sam Houston State at the Fairfield Inn and Suites Classic in Denton, Texas, on February 17, 2012.
Hesse is the winningest coach in Missouri State history with a 646-639-2 record. Her tenure includes two regular-season MVC titles, five MVC tournament crowns and five NCAA Tournament appearances. Hesse recorded her 300th win in 2000, her 400th win in 2004 and win number 500 in 2007. Missouri State leads all schools with 68 wins in the MVC Tournament and Hesse is tied for the most MVC Tournament wins with 46.
Senior second baseman Ashley Brentz returns after she earned consecutive All-MVC first team honors in 2012 and 2013 under Hesse's direction and the tutelege of long-time associate head coaches Sue Frederick and Beth Perine. Hesse also brings back All-MVC second teamers Heather Duckworth and Mary Stephens.
In 2011, Hesse's Bears overcame an up-and-down regular season to play their best softball when it mattered most. Her Bears, led by Tournament MVP Natalie Rose, won four-straight games to earn the sixth Tournament title in team history. Rose hurled four complete games over three days including shutouts of Bradley and UNI on the opening day. Her team then went 1-2 in the Norman Region of the NCAA Tournament, knocking off Iona in an elimination game.
At the 2010 Valley Tournament, the Bears once again turned to their ace in the circle to surprise the field with wins over two of the league's top four teams, as sophomore righty Natalie Rose pitched six straight complete games to lead MSU to three wins in all before regular-season champ Southern Illinois ended the Bears' quest for a sixth NCAA bid with a 4-3 decision in the semifinal round.
At the 2008 State Farm MVC Tournament, the Bears rode the right arm of senior All-MVC performer Melissa Porche to wins over Evansville, Southern Illinois and Illinois State, moving MSU to within one game of an NCAA Tournament berth.
Missouri State's 40-17 record in 2006 included a second-place MVC regular season finish at 18-4, marking the 12th season during Hesse's guidance the Bears have finished in the top five of the conference standings. At the MVC Tournament in Omaha, Neb., Missouri State knocked off the regular-season champs, Illinois State, in the semifinals and defeated Wichita State for the title. The Bears' march to the championship included three wins by the score of 4-0, and marked the fourth MSU conference tournament title under Hesse's guidance. Missouri State advanced to the Los Angeles Regional, as the Bears made their fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament under Hesse.
The 2006 team's 40 wins surpassed the school's previous top win total of 38 set by Hesse's 1994 squad. The 2006 season marked the sixth 30-win season under Hesse, who has guided the Bears to an average of 26 wins per season since her arrival in 1989.
Hesse's most successful stretch at Missouri State came from 1994-98, when her teams averaged 32 wins per season, won an MVC regular-season championship and three tournament championships. The Bears advanced to the NCAA Tournament in three consecutive seasons from 1996-98.
In 1998, Missouri State became the first team in league history to three-peat, winning its third straight Valley crown and again punching a ticket to the NCAA Tournament. The Bears played in the NCAA Regional at Stillwater, Okla., and ended the season with a 31-22 record.
The 1997 season saw the Bears finish 35-26 and become just the second team in Gateway/MVC history to win back-to-back tourney titles. Missouri State claimed the league crown in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and represented the Valley in the NCAA Regional at Norman, Okla.
The thrilling, come-from-behind Missouri State win over Southern Illinois in the 1997 MVC winners' bracket final was Hesse's 228th career victory, making her the school's winningest softball coach.
In 1996, Hesse led Missouri State to its first MVC title and its first NCAA berth since 1983 as the Bears rang up a 34-22 record, won four straight games to collect the conference crown in Normal, Ill., before competing in the NCAA Regional at Fullerton, Calif.
Hesse won Gateway Conference Coach of the Year honors in 1992, after guiding Missouri State to a 14-4 mark and the regular-season title. In 1994, she led MSU to the Missouri Valley crown with a 13-3 record and was again voted coach of the year. The 1994 Missouri State club set a school record with 38 wins, won the MVC regular-season title by three games and took second in the league tournament, which MSU hosted.
Off the field, Hesse has been active in promoting both the sport of softball and women's sports in general. Nationally, she is one of the founding faculty members of the NCAA Women Coaches Academy, which was created to enhance the skills and perspectives of women coaches, and to aid in the retention of women coaches in intercollegiate athletics. Hesse is also on the Board of Directors for the newly-formed Alliance of Coaches, whose overarching goal is to improve the landscape for women coaches.
Locally, she is the former president of the Springfield chapter of the Women's Intersport Network (WIN) having served in that role from 2009-2012.
In 2003, Hesse authored a coaching book, which is available on CD, entitled "The Diamond of Success: A Philosophical Model for Coaching".
A 1982 graduate of Creighton University, Hesse came to Missouri State after two years as an assistant coach at her alma mater. Creighton compiled a record of 72-31, won a High Country Conference title and was ranked in the top 20 in Hesse's two seasons there.
Before her two years in Omaha, Hesse served as an assistant coach for two seasons each at Iowa State University and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where she earned her master's degree in sport management in 1984. Hesse also coached for two seasons at Waukon (Iowa) High, her prep alma mater.
Hesse was a standout pitcher at Creighton, where she became the school's first 20-game winner and helped the Jays to three consecutive College World Series appearances.
A native of Waukon, Iowa, Hesse won an incredible 161 games as a pitcher for Waukon High. She was inducted into the Iowa Girls High School Pitchers' Hall of Fame in 1979.