Senior Sykes provides leadership for Tigers

Mackenzie Sykes gets one of her hits against Georgia on Saturday, March 29, 2014. Sykes is hitting .272 with eight home runs and 51 RBIs going into Friday's regional game against Bradley.

Mackenzie Sykes gets one of her three hits against No. 13 Georgia on Saturday, March 29, 2014. Missouri begins NCAA Regional action on May 16 and Sykes is currently batting .272 with eight home runs and 51 RBIs on the season.

By Sam Hustis and Sam Richmond

Mackenzie Sykes is nearing the end of her time as a Missouri Tiger softball player.

With the Missouri’s loss to Louisiana State in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament, all that remains for Sykes is the 2014 NCAA Division I Softball Tournament beginning Friday, May 16.

After coming off the bench as a freshman in 2010, Sykes earned a starting spot and became one of Missouri’s top players over the next three seasons.

She earned First Team All-Big 12 her sophomore year, batted .319 her junior season and was named to the SEC All-Defensive team in 2014.

As the only four-year senior on Missouri’s roster, Sykes became a leader in 2014 — a duty she more than fulfilled, according to Missouri sophomore catcher Sami Fagan.

“She really stepped up,” Fagan said. “Our team wouldn’t have been here today without her. She really helped us out.”

Coach Ehren Earleywine said Sykes isn’t much of a vocal leader, but she does lead by example.

“If you come out and you’re not hustling, I think you feel a little uneasy about what you’re not doing,” Earleywine said. “You look out in the outfield and she’s sprinting to her position, hustling and trying to win every drill.”

He added that Sykes’ dedication to the sport and being a great teammate has had a lasting impact on him.

“I admire her as an adult,” he said.

Length: 2:35

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