Alcorn State’s Simone McKinney not returning for 2021 season

Alcorn State’s Simone McKinney not returning for 2021 season
Harrison Central alum Simone McKinney is choosing not to return to Alcorn State softball in 2021 despite receiving eligibility relief. (Source: Alcorn State Athletics)

LORMAN, Miss. (PRESS RELEASE) - After leading the Alcorn State University softball program in batting average in back-to-back years, recent graduate Simone McKinney announced she’ll be unable to return for her season of relief in 2021. McKinney, who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology in May 2020, will be furthering her education by pursuing a Master’s degree in social work at Southern Miss.

“Simone has been everything you can ever want from a player. She has done an outstanding job representing Alcorn State University. I have known Simone since she was in middle school at Harrison Central with Coach Parker. She has an awesome family. I will definitely miss her,” said Alcorn head coach Josef Rankin. “She’s just in a position where she could have come back, heck we wanted her back, but she decided it’s better for her career to go get her Master’s at another institution because we do not offer it here and I am 100 percent behind that. She has definitely made an impact within our program and I appreciate her contribution to making us better! That is some serious production at the top of the order that we will have to replace. We’re going to really miss that young lady.”

McKinney, a native of Gulfport, Mississippi, had been a staple to the top lineup in her two years at Alcorn. She started in 60 of 64 games in centerfield, with the majority coming at either the first or second spot in the batting order. As a junior in 2019, McKinney was named to the All-Conference Second-Team. She led the squad with nine-multi hit games, including a pair of four-hit performances. McKinney batted for a team-high .322 average with 16 runs scored, eight RBIs and a pair of doubles. In conference, she tallied a .365 average and .403 on-base percentage.

McKinney was poised for another big year in 2020. In the shortened senior season, she again led the team with a .333 average and ranked fourth in the SWAC in hits with 26 and fifth in runs scored with 15. McKinney was distinguished on the Preseason All-Conference First-Team, but no postseason awards were given due to the COVID-19 pandemic ending the season before conference play.

McKinney also excelled academically. She submitted a 4.0 GPA in each of her last three semesters on campus and was a two-time SWAC Commissioner’s Honor Roll selection. Prior to Alcorn, she played two seasons at Jones CC where she led the team to the 2018 National Championship with a .403 batting average.

“Two years ago, I chose Alcorn State to be my home and it was one of the best decisions I made. I chose Alcorn because they treat you like family and really care about you. I enjoyed my time here. Coach Rankin taught me these past two years not only to be a better ball player but as a person. My teammates push me to be a better teammate and to do my best every time I step on the field. I have made so many memories as No. 11 on this team and will cherish them forever,” McKinney said. “Although my last year didn’t go as planned, I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the team. I know if I ever need anything Alcorn softball will be there. I wish Alcorn softball the best and can’t wait for the next chapter of my life.”

McKinney helped lead Harrison Central to three state championships in her four years in high school, still holds the school record for most stolen bases and was an All-American her senior year.