WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita State graduate assistant Presley Bell stepped up in a major way when the team’s former pitching coach, Morgan Lashley, abruptly resigned before the start of the season.
“Right when we heard that Morgan was leaving, we were grateful that we had Presley,” said Wichita State senior pitcher, Bailey Lange. “She was successful in our conference, and in Division-I softball, so it’s been really helpful to get her perspective on pitching in the conference and attacking batters.”
“The first thing that I thought of was Presley, and just being able to, between the two of us, make the most of it,” said head coach Kristi Bredbenner. “I felt like we could tackle it together and give the girls the confidence that they needed to get past the loss, and create some ownership.”
Bell played softball at Houston from 2016-19. In her senior year, she put together the best season of her career, recording one of the top ERAs in the country, ranked 25th in the nation and second in the conference with her career-low mark of 1.52.
“I’m only two years out, so it wasn’t long ago that I was in their position,” said Bell.
She draws inspiration from her college coach, Megan Gibson: “I think I take a lot from what I did in my bullpens with her – how she talked to me, the mindset she gave me — if we attack a zone, we go at hitters, we’re going to set ourselves up for success,” Gibson said. “We don’t want to try to do too much, but understand that we have to do the little things right.”
Bell said that she’s always known that she wanted to be a coach, so when the opportunity presented itself to lead the pitching staff this season, she was eager.
“It’s been a great experience,” said Bell. “It was hard in the beginning for the team to overcome and really adapt to that, but it really worked out in my best interest because now I’m getting the experience, I’m getting to work first-hand and I’m getting to know that this is what I really want to do.”
Her hard work has paid off as Wichita State won its first American Athletic Conference regular-season championship in program history, and an AAC Coaching Staff of the Year award.
“Obviously offense has helped us out a lot this season, but we’ve also won some close games in the circle,” said Bell. “That makes me happy because if you look at last year, that probably wouldn’t have happened.”
While Bell started as a rival, there is no question where her loyalty lies.
“Houston is having a down year, but I still wanted to tack on four more losses,” said Bell. “I do still have some friends playing, so I didn’t want to be completely, you know, too much towards them, but it was great — I enjoyed getting the sweep.”