Dynamic Duo: McKinney and Barnard push each other in record breaking seasons


Left: After a home run from sophomore Addison Barnard, junior Sydney McKinney runs from first base to home plate during the game against KU on April 20. Right: Sophomore Addison Barnard runs to home plate after scoring a home run for the Shockers.

During last season’s record breaking softball season, two players — Sydney McKinney and Addison Barnard — were integral to the team’s success. Even with increased expectations for both of the standout players, McKinney and Barnard aren’t scared of the spotlight. 

McKinney currently ranks 2nd in the NCAA in hits and 5th in batting average, total bases and runs per game and has been a constant presence as WSU’s leadoff hitter. She’s also recently cracked the top-10 hits list at WSU, with her 243 hits and sits in third place all-time. McKinney set the single season record a season ago with 87.

Junior Sydney McKinney successfully bats the ball pitched by KU on April 20. (Mia Hennen/ The Sunflower)

On top of that, McKinney has also added some power to her offense this season, launching a career-best 11 homers. McKinney also leads the Shockers in batting average at .485, fifth best in the country.

“What’s been working for me is trying not to put too much pressure on myself,” McKinney said. “It’s easy when you see the numbers, the end of the year accolades last year, they’re obviously big so just coming into this season knowing that I have to do my best and not comparing myself to last year has been big for me.”

Barnard has provided similar production to the Shocker lineup, while following up her record breaking freshmen season a year ago. Barnard is the only player in the country with 20-plus home runs and 20-plus stolen bases and her 24 stolen bases are also a career-high.

The Beatrice, Nebraska native leads the nation in home runs per game, ranks second in total home runs, third in RBI per game and fourth in RBI’s. Barnard’s 22 homers this season give 44 for her career, the second most in WSU history.

“I take a moment to look at the numbers and be like ‘Wow that’s awesome’ but moving forward, I have to keep moving forward and do what’s best for the team,” Barnard said. “Get base hits and continue to be a team player.”

Barnard has noticed a greater target on her back this season, with teams now pitching her more carefully due to last season’s success. She said it’s been important for her to be more patient at the plate with Barnard getting less pitches to hit.

Her pitch selection has helped Barnard during this sophomore season, as she leads WSU hitters in home runs (22), slugging percentage (.967), RBI’s (57), and on-base plus slugging percentage (1.443).

“I have to realize that I’m not going to get a lot of good pitches so it’s hard because sometimes I get anxious and I want to hit the ball,” Barnard said. “But I have to realize that this year is going to be more of a year that I have to be more selective because people know what I can hit and they’ve scouted me because I’m not a freshman anymore.”

After scoring a home run, sophomore Addison Barnard, meets the softball team at home plate during the against KU on April 20. (Mia Hennen/ The Sunflower)

Both players have responded to the increased pressure from last year’s success and are on pace for record breaking seasons once again. A key to being able to sustain their performances has been McKinney and Barnard pushing each other to always strive for more.

“The two of us understand the same pressure and understand what we both have to do,” McKinney said. “We’re always trying to get to the next level so I think having her on the team and knowing that she is at the same level as me and just being able to push each other in the most positive way has been a big help for both of us.”