The KC Rangers’ softball season was benched before it got into full swing, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the U.S. in March. College and high school teams from around the state were forced to hang up their equipment. One KC alumna who is taking the loss hard is Sabine ISD’s head softball coach, Molly Mackey.
Mackey graduated from KC with an associate’s degree in Spring 2013, but her trip from softball standout with the Overton Mustangs to KC was not without stumbles.
Mackey knew early on that college softball was an end goal.
“Ever since I was old enough to put in my max effort, I knew I wanted to be a college athlete,” she said. “I was determined to play AND get my education, which is something my parents ingrained into me from the time I was little.”
As college offers started coming in, Mackey accepted a scholarship from Angelina College in Lufkin. Coaching changes at the end of her freshman year forced Mackey to reconsider her options. A new team was starting up down the road from her old high school and some of the Lady Roadrunners from Angelina decided to make the trek with her.
As part of KC’s inaugural year, Mackey called moving to Kilgore, “the best decision I have ever made.”
“I always told myself I didn’t want to go 10 minutes down the road from where I grew up, but going to Kilgore and junior colleges my first two years helped me develop and grow into the coach I am today,” she said. “The coaches were amazing, and still mentor me to this day. There are friends that I made there who have been some of the best friends I could ever imagine.”
She remembers the camaraderie and excitement of the new team and how the group of mostly sophomores were, “very determined.”
“Our conference was strong and we missed the Regional Tournament by one game,” she recalled. “But, I wouldn’t trade my JuCo experience at Kilgore for any D1 college or university.”
In the 2013 Ranger yearbook, Mackey is listed as a team leader with six home runs that season. After KC, Mackey suited up as a University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawk.
At UL-M she worked hard to be part of the team. With it came some perks she had not experienced before.
“That was the first time I had ever ridden in an airplane, the first time I had traveled (extensively), I experienced great sit-down restaurants, and overnight stays in the hotels. It was all a great experience with both, but still very different,” she said.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in psychology, Mackey returned to more familiar fields. In addition to softball, she also teaches high school special education and is the assistant varsity volleyball coach for the Lady Cardinals. She also has logged some hours toward a masters in education.
As Mackey looks at the sudden end of the season from the coach’s side of the plate she is sad for her seniors who did not get to play for a district championship or get a shot at playoffs.
“We are all in this together; as a teacher and coach it sucks,” she said. “I love my
athletes and miss them terribly, but all we can do at this point is to move on and
remember the good memories we all had together.”
And Mackey also hopes that her student-athletes learn the value of going for it the way she did.
“Don’t say no to a junior college just because they are small,” she said. “You never know how much you need the smaller school experience to help manage your life schedule as well as make the connections with professors and students.”
By Haylee Cook, Staff Writer