Aug. 6—Based on the success of Jen Bagley Trotter's two-decade reign, there were high hopes in and around the Missouri Western softball program on who her successor would be.
A 600-game winner is replaced by another as Missouri Western named Joe Yegge as the sixth head coach in team history. A former head coach at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, his Eagles went 537-112 in 11 seasons, going to six NJCAA Division II World Series with eight conference titles.
"I've always said in my career if a good D-II job opened up, you know, it'd be a nice place to call home," Yegge said. "And this was one that I thought was a good spot."
It's a place with much familiarity to Yegge, who sent five players from Kirkwood to Missouri Western during his time, including current senior Rachel Stewart. Former players Morgan Frost and Lexi Kinnaird will also be assistants on his staff, with Frost staying on and Kinnaird returning just weeks after accepting a position at Gulf Coast State in Florida.
"Everyone was a little nervous not knowing what it was gonna be like with someone new. Him coming in with the experience he has at the D-I level and at Kirkwood, that's gonna be a smooth transition and good for everyone," Stewart said.
Yegge was most recently an associate head coach at Division-I DePaul, helping the Chicago school to a Big East title this spring and the conference tournament championship in 2019. He and the Blue Demons coaching staff earned the Big East Coaching Staff of the Year Award this year.
Yegge and his staff were named the NFCA Midwest Regional Coaching Staff of the Year three times while at KCC. He developed 46 NFCA All-Americans, 33 NJCAA All-Americans and three National Player of the Year winners at Kirkwood.
"Coach Yegge is a proven head coach with a track record of competitive excellence," associate athletic director Theresa Grosbach said. "He is a tenacious recruiter with a deep love for the game of softball. Most importantly, he believes in making authentic connections with student-athletes and helping them reach their full potential both on the softball field and in the classroom, and ultimately preparing them for life after the game. Our softball program has a longstanding tradition of success, and we are confident in Coach Yegge's ability to build upon that foundation."
In his 25-year career, he has a 616-225 record in 15 seasons as a head coach. That includes a stint at North Iowa Area CC from 1999-2002 and Kirkwood from 2009-18. He was also an assistant at NIACC and Indiana State.
He takes over for Bagley, who stepped down in June to take the head coaching job at the University of St. Thomas. Trotter left MWSU with 676 wins, which is the most in school and MIAA history.
The Griffons are led by National Player of the Year finalist Sydni Hawkins, who led the MIAA in multiple hitting categories as a junior. The MIAA Player of the Year broke school records with a .483 batting average and .522 on-base percentage.
Brandon Zenner can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowZenner.