By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The Perry Lady Maroons softball team hasn’t taken the field yet but has already been dealt a crushing blow.
Junior Mariah Ewy, who was the number two pitcher last year that posted a 16-0 record and would have been the top pitcher this season, broke her leg in a tournament during the summer — leaving Perry scrambling to find a replacement.
“We’re hurting,” coach Bryan Hayes said. “We got a move-in from Stillwater, Ally Reese. She’s not going to be able to replace Jayde (Hansen) and Mariah.”
Hansen, who was the number one pitcher last season, graduated and his continuing her softball career with Butler Community College. Also graduated was senior Tiara Ewy, who signed with Neosho County College and outfielder Lauryn Sullins, who signed a tennis scholarship with Cowley Community College. Hayes said he had another outfielder that quit and will have only one returning outfielder.
“I’m probably going to start two freshmen out there,” Hayes said. “We are going to pretty inexperienced in the outfield.”
Despite the losses, the team still has solid depth that helped lead the Lady Maroons to a 35-5 record and a berth in the state quarterfinals.
“We have Makayla Patton, our home run leader and runs batted in record holder,” Hayes said. “She will pitch some and play third. Cheyenne Taylor played catcher and outfielder. My first baseman Tabithia Diaz is coming back. I have some good returners.”
Hayes said for Perry to make a return trip, he will need returning players to step up.
“The girls coming back need to have great seasons,” Hayes said. “We’ve won five conference championships in a row and made it to state last year. I will need all of those girls. We will grow up as a group.”
The Frontier Lady Mustangs also are looking to younger players to help them return to the state tournament. The Lady Mustangs lost pitcher Jalissa Gum and infielder Bethany Childs. Though the Lady Mustangs lost their ace, it doesn’t mean they will be inexperienced. Sophomore Michaelanne Nelson started most of the games last season as Gum missed most of the season after fracturing her ulna in a loss to Perry. Coach Erron Kauk said that should help make the transition easier.
Frontier returns a solid group of players. Kauk said if they play well, they should be able to make it pretty far.
The Cushing Lady Tigers have knocked on the door of advancing to state — falling in the regional finals the last three years. Cushing will rely on a young core to clinch a state berth.
“We will have to see how quickly our younger players get adjusted to the game,” coach Chad Short said. “We should end up fairing pretty well we just have to gel as a team.”
The Lady Tigers return All-Conference Defensive Player Trystyn Short, who plays second, four-year starting outfielder Jessica Niccum and first baseman Kira Cox. Junior Hailea Johnson and junior Mindy Compton will get time in the circle.
“They both have a little experience,” Short said.
The Perkins-Tryon Lady Demons hope to build on last season’s run to the regional tournament.
“I feel pretty good about the season,” coach Carla Hart said. “We have four seniors and one junior. We’ve been practicing hard.”
Key players returning for P-T include pitcher Mykelti Shelton and senior Jeri Adkism, who helped the Lady Demons’ basketball team reach the state finals last season. Hart said she is pleased with the leadership of her senior class.
“Jeri is a really good leader,” Hart said. “She knows how to turn it on. My other seniors are good leaders too.”
The Glencoe Lady Panthers look to build on last season’s regional run. They will have to look for others to step up as pitcher Summer Jeffries graduated. Robin Porter pitched in the spring.
The Pawnee Lady Black Bears hope to make strides under new coach Chad Tsotigh, who replaces Mike Brock. Pawnee went 12-20 last year and were eliminated in districts. Tsotigh hopes his team can play tougher defense.
“Last year they gave away too many bases with walks and passed balls,” Tsotigh said. “We want our opponents to earn their bases. When you are giving your opponents bases it makes it tough to win.”
The Mulhall-Orlando Lady Panthers hope to improve as the program enters its fourth season after being restarted
“We want to continue to improve and keep on learning vital skills,” coach Melanie Day said.
The Agra Lady Bearcats are under new leadership. They intially hired Jessica Hornberger to replace Jon Peveler, but she resigned to take a job in Drumright. Last Monday during the school board.
Agra hired Brooke Simms, who will also teach elementary P.E. and high school science. Her husband Trey was recently hired as the high school baseball coach Agra was one victory short of making it to regionals.
“It has been a whirlwind experience from learning I was going to be coach last week to getting practice started this week,” Simms said. “The girls are excited for a new season and new coach. They want to win the conference and advance far in playoffs.”
Other coaching changes are Tim Hatter, who also coaches baseball at Morrison, replaces Josh Hawkins as coach. The Coyle Lady Bluejackets will have a new coach for the second straight season as Jennifer Vasquez takes over for Cailyn Coxey.
“I’m really excited,” Vasquez said. “I got a good group of girls that are ready to play. They are open to learning new things.”
Correction: The article, which appeared in Thursday's NewsPress and online, recently stated that Glencoe's Carly Roe graduated last season. Roe will be a junior at Glencoe this season.