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From Staff Reports
Former Greene County High School softball standout Mackenzie Byrd has been elevated to interim head softball coach at East Mississippi Community College.
EMCC Director of Athletics Sharon Thompson made the announcement Thursday. Along with Byrd’s promotion, EMCC has announced that former University of West Alabama and Jones College pitcher Kaeleigh Crutchfield has been hired as the Lions’ assistant softball coach.
The announcements come on the heels of former EMCC head softball coach Whitney Hawkins having recently taken a position on the University of North Alabama’s softball coaching staff. A former middle infielder at Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Alabama State University, Byrd was Hawkins’ assistant coach during EMCC’s 2022 softball season.
“I have confidence in Coach Mack’s leadership abilities, and I believe she is ready to guide our softball team as the Lions’ interim head coach,” Thompson said. “Because Coach Mack worked very closely with Coach (Whitney) Hawkins last season, we’re confident that our softball program will continue to progress. We also wish Coach Hawkins the very best in her future softball coaching endeavors.”
“I’m very thankful to Coach (Sharon) Thompson and the entire EMCC administration for making this coaching opportunity available to me,” Byrd noted. “Coach (Whitney) Hawkins did a great job with the team last season and that experience of working with her will hopefully result in future success for the Lions.”
Byrd is a 2015 graduate of Greene County High School, where she was a multi-sport athlete. She began her college career at Copiah-Lincoln in Wesson. As a freshman, the Sand Hill native batted .271 as a member of the 2016 Lady Wolves’ team that posted records of 29-14 overall and 19-11 in league play to advance to the state tournament. Byrd went on to hit .264 as a 33-game starter during her sophomore season at Co-Lin.
Following her two seasons at Copiah-Lincoln, Byrd transferred to Montgomery-based Alabama State of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. After redshirting the 2018 season, she went on to make 29 total starts during her two-year ASU playing career. As a redshirt junior, Byrd was a member of the Lady Hornets’ 2019 SWAC Tournament Championship team.
Upon graduation from Alabama State in 2020, Byrd moved to Hattiesburg to begin jointly working as an assistant manager for D1 Training and also as a softball instructor for the D-BAT softball academy. Byrd served as a softball instructor and coach for two years while also helping young athletes develop their individual training programs.
“I am very thankful to have come across Coach Crutch during our coaching search,” Byrd said about Kaeleigh Crutchfield’s addition. “She was an outstanding pitcher at West Alabama and at Jones College within our conference, so she will provide tremendous help with our pitching staff. With her high energy at practices and during game days, she and I will work well together and be a very balanced coaching staff.”