William Chrisman High School graduate Kyana Mason was primarily used as a substitute off the bench in her first two years on the Missouri State University softball team.
As a junior she hit in the No. 9 spot in the lineup and started in 19 out of the Bears’ 40 games. This spring, she finally got her shot to be an everyday player, and made the most of it.
She started in all 51 games, and had a team-high .388 batting average, 64 hits, 34 run scored and 13 stolen bases. She also tied for the team lead in home runs with four and added 16 RBIs.
Her breakout senior campaign led to her being named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Midwest All-Region first team, which makes her eligible for All-America honors.
“I was really thankful that I was able to do that this season,” Mason said. “I was really happy overall. It was a great way to finish my collegiate career.”
Mason pointed out that improving mentally was a big reason for her successful 2019 season.
“I was preparing by taking deep breaths (before at-bats),” she said.
Another reason was changing the mechanics of her slap hitting, a form of hitting mostly for speedy left-handed hitters to run in the batter’s box before taking a swing, giving them a head start toward first base. She had to change how she did it because of a new rule that no part of a players foot could be outside the box when they make contact with the ball. If any of part of the batter’s foot was outside the box, they were called out.
“I had to change it up a little bit,” Mason said. “At first it was difficult to adjust because I had been slapping the way that I had since I was 8 or 9. Then just last year I had to change it. I had to get the steps down, and once I did, it helped me a lot.”
She hit leadoff for the entire season and thrived in her new role.
“I was super ready for that role, I was excited to do that,” she said. “I was used to the role before college. I just took it on.”
On defense, Mason played at third base all season and she had a solid .953 fielding percentage and eight errors.
“I thought I did pretty good,” Mason said. “I love third because you don’t have to think as much, you just react.”
Overall, she was happy with her four years with the Bears.
“It was a fun experience that I would never take back,” Mason said. “I would do it all over again.”
And one of those moments she’d like to relive is hitting her first collegiate home run – a solo shot to leadoff a game in a 7-4 win over Florida A&M early in the season.
“I didn’t even know it went over,” she said. “I hit it. It was solid. I thought it was a double and I look up and it went over the fence. That was pretty cool. I played with (Blue Springs graduate Darrian Frost) before I came to Missouri State and we were both crying in the dugout. We’ve been close since I was 12. That was a very special moment.”
Another special moment for her was convincing her brother and recent Chrisman grad Kelvyn Mason to commit to play football at Missouri State. Football head coach Dave Steckel joked with Mason, saying that she couldn’t come back until she convinced Kelvyn to come to Missouri State, She delivered.
“I told him it was close to home and it was a great school,” Kyana said. “Coach Steck (jokingly) said if I couldn’t get him to come here, I would have to leave.”
But she didn’t have to. And now that she has graduated from Missouri State, she will stick around Springfield for another year to help Kelvyn get acclimated to the area.
“I want to make sure he is all settled in here, and I have a job here in Springfield,” she said.