Lisa McKinney returns for second stint as MSU Billings softball coach

(Editor’s note: MSUB Athletics release)

BILLINGS – She has a new last name, but the winningest coach in Montana State University Billings softball history is coming back for a second stint to lead the Yellowjackets.

Lisa (Allen) McKinney, who went 123-110 (.528) in five seasons from 2011-15 in charge of MSUB’s program, accepted the position of head softball coach on Wednesday. “We couldn’t be more excited to welcome back one of our most successful coaches to lead our softball program,” said director of athletics Krista Montague. “Lisa is a proven winner at the Division II level, who captured multiple championships and led our softball program to historic heights on a regional and national scale. Most importantly, she has a stellar track record of developing our student-athletes as well-rounded individuals, and she is someone we have full confidence in to hit the ground running in this position.”

Lisa (Allen) McKinney returns to MSUB for her second stint as head coach of the Yellowjacket softball program. (MSUB Athletics photo)

McKinney has spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach under Josh Taylor at the University of Nevada Reno, where the Wolfpack went 56-54 overall and 23-25 in the NCAA Division I Mountain West Conference during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. “I would like to thank Krista Montague, and the search committee chaired by Kevin Woodin for this opportunity,” said McKinney. “We are looking forward to returning to Billings, our alma mater, and a city that has a special meaning to us. I am eager to get started with the team and to be back in the Billings community.”

Yellowjacket teams went .500 or better in four of McKinney’s five seasons in charge, and she piloted the program to two of its most successful campaigns. In 2012 MSUB won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season title, going 32-18 overall and 25-11 in league play. The Yellowjackets advanced to the NCAA West Region Championships, falling in their first two games.

In 2015, MSUB went 31-23 overall and 14-8 in league play, before storming to a GNAC tournament title and once again qualifying for the west region playoffs. That time, the ‘Jackets advanced to the regional title game before falling to Sonoma State University and ending the deepest playoff run in program history.

McKinney coached five all-region selections, including 2015 GNAC Player of the Year Taylor Hoke and 2011 GNAC Newcomer of the Year Meg Harasymczuk. She had 34 all-conference selections spread over her five seasons, as well as 26 academic all-conference picks.

McKinney inherited the Desert Stinger Classic Softball tournament after its first year in 2010 with 16 teams, and expanded the event to become the largest Division II softball tournament in the NCAA. McKinney assisted in the planning and execution of the event for six years, seeing the tournament field peak at 32 teams and 80 games during the 2015 edition.

Upon departing MSUB after the 2015 season, McKinney spent two years as the head coach at fellow NCAA Division II San Francisco State University. She went 46-59 (.438) overall and 32-48 (.400) in California Collegiate Athletic Association competitions.

McKinney will officially begin her second tenure at MSUB on July 8. She replaces Jessica Rayman, who went 54-88 (.380) and 31-51 (.378) in GNAC play over three seasons from 2017-19.

The MSUB softball team went 15-31 in 2019, and finished in seventh place in the GNAC with a conference record of 8-20.

Scott Breen

Scott Breen

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