Grace Jeffries

Northwest Missouri State softball recruit Grace Jeffries makes a catch for Kearney High School.

Over the summer, The Forum will be catching up with a different Bearcat team each week for our ‘State of the Program’ series where we will check in on where the program is now and what new faces they are bringing in for next season. This week is all about Bearcat softball.


MARYVILLE, Mo. — Early-season rain-outs and snow-outs prevented Northwest Missouri State from finding any rhythm last season as they struggled to an 11-28 record — their first losing season in five years. 

“It was tough recovery from that,” Northwest coach Ryan Anderson said. “We kept fighting, saw some good things, then had some injuries and tried to do with those all year.”

Anderson hopes that some better luck with injuries and the weather will lead to increased success this season. He is counting on contributions from the four newcomers to the program that he signed as part of the 2019 recruiting class. 

Lexi Kump is a Liberty native who began her collegiate softball career at the University of Missouri-Kansas City last year. The corner infielder started 24 games for the Roos as a freshman and hit .271 with 10 RBI. 

“She can be a big swinger and that is what we want,” Anderson said. “We want her to go after the ball.”

Abby Nolte was one of three finalists for the Des Moines Register’s All-Iowa softball player of the year as a junior. The other two were seniors and Nolte made the list after hitting nearly .600 and smashing 12 homers, including one in the state title game to help Des Moines Hoover upset ADM of Adel. 

“She is somebody that we hope can step in and help us right away,” Anderson said. 

As a senior, Nolte isn’t slowing down. The utility player is batting .500 with seven homers as the season has just passed the midway point in Iowa. She also is the ace pitcher for Hoover as they aim to repeat as state champions.

“She is a kid that wants to swing the bat and every game I’ve seen her play, that is what she did — she swung and hit the ball,” Anderson said. “We need more of those.”

Grace Jeffries gives the Bearcats another player with infield and outfield versatility. She was an all-region selection as a senior for Kearney. 

“She is a lefty slapper, a speed kid who covers a lot of ground,” Anderson said. “She is some speed to add to the lineup.”

Anderson also added to the team’s pitching depth with Breck Dickey from Blue Valley. Dickey was a Second Team All-State selection in Kansas this past season in Class 6A. 

“She had a great high school season again this year and led her team to state,” Anderson said. “She is a lefty thrower. A lot of movement on the ball — balls move down, balls spin away — that is what we what to see when see gets here.”

The Bearcats have a six-game fall season as they prepare for their bounce-back spring season. 

“I hope that they want more out of this,” Anderson said. “The expectations have to be there. What do they want out of the season?”