Thanks to their sisters, Brittany Gustin and Mekayla Foskett are the recipients of the two top softball awards at Kansas City Kansas Community College for 2016.
A pitcher, Gustin was named the Most Valuable Player award while Foskett, an infielder, was voted the Justin Cothran "Life's Tough, Get a Helmet" award, which is presented annually in memory of the former Blue Devil coach who passed away from cancer July 5, 2012.
"Makayla could not be more deserving," said KCKCC Coach Kacy Tillery. "She's the epitome of the kind of athlete Coach Cothran liked to coach. Hard worker, at practice every day, great teammate. A Pinnacle Academic All-American with a 4.0 grade point average. Started as a freshman but not start until towards the end of this season but never complained."
Criteria for the Cothran award included a player should be "Hard-working, academically successful, tough player and person, outstanding work habits, incredible spirit for the game." said Tillery: "Justin loved coaching the blue-collar, hard-workers, kids who may not have had all the talent in the world but worked harder than anyone on the field and in the classroom."
Ironically, it was Foskett's older sister, Jayme, who played for Cothran and Tillery, who recommended that Mekayla play at KCKCC after graduating from Leavenworth High School. "I was very grateful at being nominated," said Foskett, who has applied to KCKCC's nursing program for next year. In 18 games this spring, she batted .356.
Gustin also ended up at KCKCC because of a younger sister. A 2012 graduate of Raytown High School, she played one year at Butler Community College but then took a job and was out of softball for two years. "I wanted to play again but I didn't know where to start. My sister, Mikayla Gustin, had signed here first and said I should come too."
The ace of the pitching staff, Gustin had a 17-12 record with a 4.40 ERA which was made even more impressive by the fact that because of injuries, she was pitching both ends of doubleheaders. "It didn't bother me, I just pushed through it," said Gustin.
Even better, she got to hit. Normally pitchers do not hit but about a third of the way into the season Tillery kept her in the lineup fulltime and was well-rewarded. In 73 trips to the plate, Gustin hit a lusty .466 with four home runs and 23 RBI. "It was fun," said Gustin. "I was surprised being off for two years to have done well. It was a fun season. I loved it here. A lot better than my first year." Gustin, who is undecided about her softball and educational future, will complete work on her AA degree this summer.
A Leavenworth grad, Mekayla Foskett (left) is the recipient of the Justin Cothran "Life's Tough, Get a Helmet" award while Raytown grad Brittany Gustin was voted the Most Valuable Player on the 2016 softball team at Kansas City Kansas Community College. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)