Sydney McKinney leads Shocker softball with spirit, speed and coffee

Wichita State University’s women’s athletics prospered over the past 20 years as a series of coaching hires, facility improvements and budget upgrades lifted them into regular contention for conference titles and NCAA play.

Shocker softball is enjoying its greatest success with five NCAA regional appearances under coach Kristi Bredbenner since 2016. On Sunday, the Shockers earned their third straight regional bid and will play Nebraska at 6 p.m. Friday in Stillwater, Okla.

Senior shortstop Sydney McKinney joins the list of female student-athletes who highlight the success of the past two decades – people such as Olympic distance runner Aliphine Tuliamuk, volleyball stars such as Chelsey Feekin and Abbie Lehman and basketball’s Alex Harden.

McKinney’s leadership isn’t limited to the field. Teammates love her enthusiasm and positive outlook, as well as her devotion to coffee, pets and painting. She is a criminal justice major from Norborne, Missouri. She plans to attend law school, with an eye on working in Title IX law, after working as a graduate assistant for the softball team.

"She’s going to leave here as the best softball player that's ever played the game in this program and that will never change in my lifetime,” Bredbenner said. “She's the most well-rounded student-athlete that's ever played for me. Knows who she is. Who she wants to be. How she wants to treat people. Has done an awesome job of growing the game and growing her brand in a really positive way, instead of a really selfish way.”

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