Cayla Kessinger returning to Mizzou softball for extra year of eligibility

Eric Blum
Columbia Daily Tribune
Missouri's Cayla Kessinger (33) looks at her bat before stepping in the batter's box during a super regional game against James Madison.

One of Missouri softball's integral players has made the decision to use the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Redshirt senior Cayla Kessinger plans to return to Columbia for the 2022 season, a source confirmed to the Tribune.

Kessinger missed only one game this season for the Tigers and started the other 58. She batted .327, hitting 14 home runs with 34 RBIs. 

She posted a .429 batting average, six homers, 32 RBIs and a .532 on-base percentage in 2020.

More:Mizzou softball's Cayla Kessinger leads Tigers after returning from health scare

Last April, Kessinger was selected as a second-team All-American by Softball America. She ended the abbreviated 2020 season on a 15-game hitting streak.

Just over a month ago, Kessinger hadn't made up her mind whether to return to MU.

"What are my plans? I don't know. I couldn't tell you where I'm going to be in the next couple of months because I have a sixth year, if I want to take it," Kessinger told the Tribune in April of her NCAA eligibility. "I have another year to play if I want to. And I'm not saying that I am or whatever, but that opportunity is there."

During the postseason, Tigers head coach Larissa Anderson stated Kessinger, alongside MU catcher Hatti Moore, didn't plan to return to the team after exhausting the regular four years of NCAA eligibility.

Now, it appears Kessinger has had a change of heart and will be back in Columbia, joining fellow seniors Brooke Wilmes and Kim Wert, who also plan to exercise their extra eligibility to play for Missouri again

The Tigers finished 2021 with a 42-17 record and earned the No. 8 national seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Missouri hosted an NCAA Super Regional for the first time since 2013, falling in three games to James Madison. The Dukes played four games in the Women's College World Series before being eliminated Monday by No. 1 Oklahoma.

Contact Eric Blum at eblum@columbiatribune.com. Follow @ByEricBlum on Twitter.

Follow Mizzou athletics with the Tribune’s Tiger Extra newsletter. Sign up at columbiatribune.com/tigerextra for stories, galleries and podcasts in your inbox every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.