ORIENT — Murray’s 13th-ranked softball team improved to 21-2 with a 16-3 victory over Orient-Macksburg during a steady drizzle here Friday evening.
But the outcome of the game took a backseat on this night to an event honoring a longtime coach for the host Bulldogs, who is stepping down from all coaching duties at the conclusion of this softball season.
After the Lady Mustangs finished their mercy rule victory in four innings, in a game where conditions made it difficult for either team to play mistake-free softball, a ceremony planned for the softball field was moved into the school’s multipurpose room because of the weather.
O-M Principal Teresa Thompson led the ceremony honoring Dan McKinney and his family, which included wife Sharon and daughters Wendy and Kim. Another daughter, Jennifer, lives out of state and was not in attendance.
Kim DeJongh, O-M athletic director, presented a plaque to McKinney with an inscription thanking him for his 19 years of service in coaching girls athletics at Orient-Macksburg.
He was coach the past 18 years in softball, succeeding John Dunlevy after assisting him for one year. In 2000 he succeeded Scott Phelps as head volleyball coach, a post he held through last fall.
McKinney and Bill Huntington each had stints as head girls basketball coach between 1997 and 2012, until Kelli Goodale and DeJongh took over the post in recent years. McKinney was head coach from 2000 to 2007, and served as assistant for the other years.
So, McKinney had his stamp on multiple sports for nearly 20 years at his alma mater. Thompson told the assembled crowd — which included many former players and coaching partners — that such dedication is rare today.
“Thank you for coming tonight to help us recognize Dan McKinney for his 19 years of coaching girls athletics at Orient-Macksburg,” Thompson said. “It’s almost impossible to recognize Dan without having Sharon come up and join him.”
The two McKinneys received an ovation from the O-M supporters before Thompson continued.
“Actually, 19 years is only a fraction of the time Dan and Sharon have been a part of of Orient-Macksburg,” Thompson continued. “Both graduated from here and participated in activities at Orient. They stayed in the community where they raised three girls, who also participated in many O-M activities. Dan and Sharon were always there and great supporters.
“While many of us associate Dan with softball,” Thompson said, “he has also coached volleyball and basketball for many years at Orient-Macksburg. It is rare to find individuals with such a long-term dedication and pride. Their focus has always been to help girls be better athletes and better individuals. With that, we truly thank you, Dan, for your dedication to Orient-Macksburg.”
“I don’t really know what to say,” McKinney said, nonetheless pleased with the gracious support by the crowd attending the ceremony.
Sharon McKinney posted her appreciation on Facebook over the weekend.
“A HUGE thank-you to each and every one of you that attended Dan’s retirement reception!” she wrote. “You all made him and me feel quite special and we greatly appreciated the effort of all who made it happen. The weather didn’t cooperate, but it all turned out fine. Thanks again and the evening will be remembered forever.”
As for the game, Murray coach Danny Jensen has one of the state’s top Class 1A teams against a young, rebuilding O-M squad. Because of his respect for McKinney’s career, he was hoping to not “rub it in” while the Bulldog program was holding a special event.
But, in the process, he said his team lost its intensity and it was not their typical performance.
“We had a very good first inning (eight runs),” Jensen said. “Then O-M scored on three Murray errors and we finished with four errors.”
O-M also had four fielding miscues and was outhit by Murray, 8-5. McKenzie Case had a bases-loaded double in the fourth inning for Murray. She finished with two hits and a career-high six RBI.
Winning pitcher Kate Patton had two RBI and McKenzie McIntosh also drove in two runs. Chellsea Jones, Madison Gonseth and Case had doubles for Murray.
Patton struck out four and issued no walks for Murray, now 8-1 in the Bluegrass Conference and 21-2 overall with a home game tonight vs. East Union.
O-M pitchers Rylee Woosley and Madi White combined for 13 walks, two hit batters and eight hits allowed in four innings. Lisa Moss had two hits for the Bulldogs, who host CAM Tuesday.
“It was a very wet field and the O-M staff did a good job during the day to get the field playable,” Jensen said. “The rain started in the second inning and continued the rest of the game. It was mud within 15 minutes, but we needed to complete the game because it was a conference game and we did not have an open date. The conditions made it difficult for the pitchers.”
The baseball field was deemed unplayable because of wet conditions and that game will be made up Wednesday. DeJongh said it hasn’t been determined if Wednesday’s action will be JV-varsity or a varsity doubleheader.