13 Bryce Darnell
13 Bryce Darnell
Title: Head Coach
Phone: 417-625-9312
Email: darnell-b@mssu.edu
Previous College: Missouri Southern '97
Twitter Handle: @brycedarnell

Bryce Darnell begins his eighth season as head coach at Missouri Southern. He was named the third head baseball coach in Southern baseball history on May 22, 2007. Darnell succeeded coach Warren Turner who retired after 31 years at Southern, including 852 wins and two NCAA Division II College World Series appearances. In seven years, Darnell has a career record of 196-171.

The 2014 season saw the highest-ever draft pick to come out of Missouri Southern when Logan Moon was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the sixth round of the Major League Baseball draft in June. Moon was assigned to the Burlington (NC) Royals rookie league team and proceeded to set the Appalachian League on fire upon his arrival. He went on to set a team record for hits and won the league batting title. He finished the season by being named the Royals Rookie League Player of the Year. 

Moon was one of four Lions to earn All-MIAA honors in 2014. A third-team pick, Moon joined a trio of seniors (Moon, David Reese and Stephen Vaughn), as well as sophomore Payton Walker who earned league honors. Four other Lions were named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll, as well. 

The 2013 season proved to be the best yet for Darnell as the Lionswent 34-22 and won the MIAA Tournament Title with a dramatic walk-off home run from Sam Ryan, giving the Lions a 6-3 win over fifth-ranked Missouri Western. The Lions defeated Western twice during that tournament and had three complete game wins from the pitching staff on the way to the win.

Southern had four wins over top five opponents in 2013 and who could forget the 11-shutout innings thrown by Bret Abel against eventual national runner-up Minnesota State in the opening round of the NCAA Regional. The Lions had seven players named All-MIAA, while two were named to the Central Region All-Tournament team. Shaun Hoover was named to the Central Region Gold Glove team and Thomas Wilson was an Academic All-American. 

Southern finished the 2012 season 32-19 and the Lions were 23-17 in the MIAA, good enough for a third place finish in the league. Although the season ended with a defeat in the first round of the MIAA Tournament, the year was full of plenty of highs. The Lions started the year 11-0 and jumped into the National Poll at No. 24. After moving their record to 15-1, the Lions moved all the way up to No. 11 in Division II. The Lions finished the year batting .310 as a team and had a 3.74 team ERA. Southern also broke a school record for fielding percentage finishing the year with a .962 average.

Senior pitcher Cody Griebling was named a first-team All-MIAA selection and a second team All-Region pick after going 9-4 with 74 strikeouts and a 3.19 ERA. Luke Acosta was a second-team All-MIAA pick, while Jesse Kinzey, Cullen Baxter, Michael McCoy, Sam Ryan and David Reese were all named honorable mention All-MIAA. Griebling kept his high going as he signed a professional contract to play baseball with the Schaumburg Boomers of the independent Frontier League.

The Lions had six players named All-MIAA in 2011 as Dallas Burke was a first-team selection at utility after splitting time at catcher, outfield and designated hitter. Both Jesse Kinzey and Dane Kolkmeyer were second-team selections, while newcomers Brett Abell and Cody Griebling picked up honorable mention status after anchoring the Lions' pitching staff. Senior Patrick Deao was also named an honorable mention pick after he led the Lions with eight outfield assists this year and was tied for the team lead with five home runs and 60 hits. Southern finished just a half game out of the hunt for an MIAA Tournament bid at 24-26 overall. 

The 2010 Missouri Southern baseball team continued its resurgence under coach Bryce Darnell and made the MIAA post season tournament for the second-straight year. The Lions had their second-straight winning record with a 28-26 mark and finished third in the MIAA Tournament, losing out to eventual Division II World Series participant Central Missouri. Southern also set a school record for home runs in a season (64) beating the previous mark of 51. 

The Lions had, at one time, the toughest schedule in Division II, but fought through a rough 3-14 start to go 14-5 over its next 19 games and finished the regular season as the fifth seed in the MIAA Tournament. Southern had four players named All-MIAA and two were named All-Region with senior shortstop Jacob Taylor picking up All-American honors. Junior catcher Joe Lincoln was drafted in the 34th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers and both Taylor and fellow senior CJ Maffei signed professional contracts, as well. 

Darnell's second season saw a dramatic turnaround that led to the Lions finishing 35-20 overall, third place in the MIAA and the program's first trip to the MIAA Tournament since 2002. The Lions, throughout the course of the year, saw such highs including taking three out of four games from eventual national runner up Emporia State and shutting out Central Missouri twice in the same season, a feat that has rarely, if ever, been accomplished. 

The Lions had eight players named All-MIAA and both CJ Maffei and Skyler Rawlins were named All-Region. The team won its first game at the MIAA Tournament and was in contention for an NCAA Regional berth all season. Coming into this year, both Maffei and Rawlins have been tabbed pre-season All-Americans.

Darnell's first season as the head coach at his alma mater saw the team improve in wins, both overall and in conference play, and saw the young Lions squad play one of the most difficult schedules in NCAA Division II. The team won 16 games in MIAA play, including an exciting 3-2 win over MIAA Champ and Division II World Series Participant Central Missouri.

A 1997 graduate of Missouri Southern, Darnell had been the head baseball coach at Webb City High School for eight years, while also teaching social studies at the school. His baseball teams at Webb City won two Missouri Class 3 State Championships. Darnell amassed a 160-43 career record at Webb City and was the Joplin Globe Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2005, while being named the Missouri Class 3 Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2006.

A three-year player for the Lions from 1994-1996, Darnell transferred to Southern after a year at the University of Minnesota. A Brooklyn Center, Minn. native, Darnell was a three-sport athlete at BCHS being named all-state in baseball and football, as well as all-conference in basketball. Darnell played for his father, Doug, at BCHS. Doug Darnell was also the Athletic Director at BCHS.

Darnell hit .436 in 30 games as a sophomore for the Lions in 1994, which is the sixth highest batting average in a season at Southern. He was named honorable mention All-MIAA that year. He had his best season in 1995, helping the Lions to a 43-13 record, including a 17-3 mark in MIAA play. He hit .364 that year with 13 doubles, three homers and 47 RBIs en route to being named first-team all-region and all-MIAA. The Lions were second in the MIAA Postseason Tournament and made an appearance in the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament.

Darnell's senior season saw the catcher hit .339 with 20 doubles, four homers and 48 RBIs in 55 games. The 20 doubles is fifth all-time in a season at Southern. He was named honorable mention all-MIAA that year. Darnell was drafted after his junior season in the 40th round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He was later drafted after his senior season in the 58th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He played in 1996 for the Visalia Oaks, a single A affiliate of the Diamondbacks.

Darnell's .577 on base percentage as a sophomore ranks third in a season, while his .996 fielding percentage (1 error) in 1995 is second all-time. He ranks seventh in career doubles with 40, while ranking sixth in batting average (.366) and seventh in fielding percentage

He holds a degree in Secondary Education from Missouri Southern (1997), as well as a Masters in Educational Administration from Missouri State University (2000).

Darnell has a wife, Pamela and two children, Darcy (13), and Cy (10).

17 Nick Tuck
17 Nick Tuck
Title: Assistant Coach
Phone: 417-625-3560
Email: tuck-n@mssu.edu
Previous College: Missouri Southern '08

This will be Coach Tuck's seventh season serving as an assistant coach for the Missouri Southern baseball program under Bryce Darnell. His primary responsibilities at Missouri Southern are coaching the outfielders and serving as the programs recruiting coordinator. Nick is originally from Lamar, Missouri, where he played baseball for former Lion Tim Casper. Prior to his coaching days at Southern, he served the Lions as a relief pitcher from 2004-2008 and was a four year letterman. While playing at Missouri Southern he also served as the baseball teams SAAC representative. Coach Tuck has a bachelors degree in K-12 physical education and a masters degree in Educational Administration from William Woods University.

Aside from his coaching duties at Missouri Southern Nick also served as the Head Coach for the Joplin Legion program during the summers of 2010 and 2011. Coach Tuck is married to former Missouri Southern Volleyball player Teyoni Wilson and the couple resides in Joplin, Missouri

34 Jason Immekus
34 Jason Immekus
Title: Assistant Coach
Phone: 417-625-9312
Email: immekus-j@mssu.edu
Previous College: Washburn

Jason Immekus enters his sixth season as the pitching coach for the Lions after spending four seasons as an assistant coach at Jefferson College, a junior college in St. Louis. 

Immekus helped coach three All-MIAA pitchers in 2014 as David Reese earned second-team honors and both Payton Walker and Stephen Vaughn were named honorable mention selections. Reese ranked 14th nationally in strikeout to walk ratio (74 k's - 12 bb's) and he finished second in the MIAA in strikeouts with 74 while led the league in strikeouts looking with 25. He was second in the league with a 2.55 ERA and finished his career ranked second in single-season and career appearances in MSSU history, while ranking fifth in career strikeouts. Vaughn had a record-setting two-year career for the Lions as the team's closer. In 2014, he appeared in 30 games, setting a new single-season record at MSSU. The righty was sixth in the MIAA in saves with six, while posting a 2.88 ERA and a 3-3 record in 40.2 innings pitched. He struck out 37 and walked just 15, limiting opposing hitters to a .188 average. Walker ranked sixth in the MIAA in both strikeouts and ERA. The staff, as a whole, finished the season with an MIAA league-leading 3.86 ERA.

The Lions finished 2013 with a 3.74 team ERA and senior pitcher Cody Griebling was named a first-team All-MIAA selection and a second team All-Region pick after going 9-4 with 74 strikeouts and a 3.19 ERA. David Reese was named honorable mention All-MIAA. Griebling kept his high going as he signed a professional contract to play baseball with the Schaumburg Boomers of the independent Frontier League. 

In 2011, Immekus helped newcomers Brett Abell and Cody Griebling to All-MIAA performances on the mound. Abell led the team with an 8-6 record on the mound and ranked second in the MIAA in strikeouts, while leading the MIAA in innings pitched and games started. Griebling was 7-5 and proved to be the Lions top starter down the stretch. He was tied for third in the MIAA in wins and had the MIAA's third-lowest opponent batting average at .240. 

In his first season with the Lions, he had three starters earn six wins or more, including CJ Matthews who went 7-5 and signed a professional contract with the Oakland County (Mich.) Cruisers in the Independent Frontier League. 

While at Jeffco, Immekus was the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the Vikings. He helped the program to four-straight conference championships, as the team was nationally ranked in each year, reaching as high as No. 4 nationally. Prior to Jeffco, Immekus served in the same capacity for three years at Crowder College. 

Immekus serves as the manager of the Joplin Outlawas and is in his second season in that capacity after serving as the team's pitching coach. 

A native of Carthage, Immekus' college baseball playing career began at Independence Community College (Kansas) before transferring to Washburn. An all-conference pitcher in each of his four seasons, Immekus went on to sign a free agent contract with the Richmond Roosters in the independent Frontier League and played there for two seasons. He then spent the following season with the Kalamazoo Kings in the same league.

42 Dennis Vilela
42 Dennis Vilela
Title: Assistant Coach
Phone: 417-625-9312
Previous College: Pittsburg State

Dennis Vilela is entering his eighth season with the Missouri Southern Baseball program. Dennis and his wife Krista live in Columbus, Kansas with their three children Tanner (21), Emma (11) and Jack (8).

Vilela coaches the hitters and catchers’ at MSSU. Over his last 7 seasons, he has coached 18 All-Conference players, including two All-Region players and one preseason All-American. He also has had six players go on and play some form of professional baseball, including last years sixth-round MLB selection by the Royals, Logan Moon. His teams have had a .310 batting average or better in six of the last seven years and have averaged .442 Slugging Percentage and .390 on-base percentage over this time span as well. The 2010 team broke the school record for home runs with 64.

Vilela played ball at Pratt Community College in Pratt, Kansas earning all-conference honors before transferring to Pittsburg State University. During his stay at PSU he was named team captain as a junior and senior.

After completion of college he went on to work various camps and showcases all over the country including the University of Notre Dame, University of Arkansas, and Mickey Owen Baseball School. He has spoken at many clinics including those at Mickey Owen Winter Clinics and the Kansas High School Baseball Coaches Association.

Vilela started out as a high school baseball coach for 10 years. He has served as head coach at Climax Springs and led Cougars to a school record in wins and a second place finish in the district tournament. He has also been a head coach at Columbus High School in Columbus Kansas. During his tenure, the Titans broke the single season totals for wins. They also upset the number #1 seed in the state regional two years in a row.

Vilela then spent three years at Labette Community College in Parsons, Kansas. His primary jobs were working with the hitters and catchers. He also was involved with recruiting. He has spent many summers coaching baseball and traveled to New Jersey to coach in the ACCBL. After his summer in New Jersey he became the assistant coach of the Joplin Slashers, a collegiate summer team out of the Jayhawk League. After two years as assistant for the Slashers he went on to be the head coach for the next two years.

Vilela has also been an associate scout with the Boston Red Sox and has had 50 former players that have been drafted or went on to play professional baseball. 

35 Brett Abell
35 Brett Abell
Title: Asst. Coach
Previous College: Missouri Southern '13

Brett Abell joins the Lions coaching staff for his first year as an assistant under Bryce Darnell.

Abell finished up his career as one of the best lefties to wear a Southern jersey. A two-time All-MIAA selection, Abell was a second-team pick his senior season after leading the Lions to the 2013 MIAA Baseball Torunament Championship and a spot in the NCAA Division II Tournament. 

He was one of three pitchers to throw complete-games in the MIAA Tournament when he shutout Pittsburg State, 9-0 in the first game of the tournament. He followed up that performance with a school-record 11 shutout innings of No. 1 seed Minnesota State in the opening game of the NCAA Regional, a game the Lions would eventually fall 1-0 in 14 innings. 

For that performace, Abell was named to the Central Region All-Tournament Team. He struck out 11 and allowed just five hits in the no-decision. He finished that season with school records for single-season strikeouts (115) and innings pitched (105.1). 

Abell finished his career with 200 strikeouts, just six from tying the career record at Missouri Southern. He ranks third in that category, while his 201.2 career innings pitched ranks sixth overall. His four career shutouts rank fourth all-time, as well. 

The Miami, Okla. native is engaged to current MSSU Track and Field Athlete Emily Paullus. The couple has planned a June 2015 wedding.