While lesser competitors would crumble under the pressure of filling the hole left by a Division I athlete, Frontier softball players Jalissa Gum did the complete opposite - and as only a sophomore.
Gum stepped in as Frontier's only pitcher this year and led them to an apperance in the state semifinals - and shattered school records along the way. The sophomore pitched all 222 innings of Frontier's season, recording a school record 432 strikeouts - an average of 1.95 strikeouts per inning - while only walking 49 batters and finishing the season with an earned run average of 0.65.
That's not to say that Gum wasn't a little unsure of herself heading into the season.
“It was a lot of pressure,” Gum said. “I was nervous at the beginning, thinking that everybody's thinking that if Jeneva (Nelson) was still here, than we would have done this or that and stuff like that. So I just started pushing myself to do better and it just made me want to work harder and get as better as I can.”
But it was Gum's dual threat that helped the Lady Mustangs return to the state tournament. Gum was also Frontier's lead off hitter with a batting average of .481 with four home runs, 15 doubles, 30 RBI and 49 runs scored. Gum also was a perfect 36-for-36 on stolen base attempts.
“Being the lead off batter, helped me to get everybody started and show them that we were there to win,” Gum said of her offensive performance.
“If I started out well, then everybody else just fell into place. But then, if I wasn't doing too great that game at the plate, then somebody else would step up and deliver while I focused in on the pitching.”
All of that made her a shoo-in for The NewsPress Fall Sports girls athlete of the year.
“It's awesome. It's not really something I expected,” Gum said of the honor.
But as Gum's coach Erron Kauk pointed out, it was the constant questioning of Gum's abilities that led to her push herself to be the type of player she needed to be for the Lady Mustangs.
“After we lost Jeneva Nelson, there were a lot of nay sayers and saying losing that pitcher was going to keep us from getting back to the state tournament and having to try to replace her was going to be tough,” Kauk said. “And that's the type of stuff that fuels Jalissa. She wanted to show everybody that she can be a dominant pitcher and she can be as good, if not better, than Jeneva was. And that's what she did.”
Fall Sports Girls Teams
Darrian Black, Frontier softball
After several years away from Frontier and from the sport of softball, Black returned to be a big part of Frontier's success. Out of the four hole, the junior first baseman hit .316 with a team-high 36 RBI and scored 28 runs. At the first base position, she had a fielding percentage of .952 for the year.
Bethanny Childs, Frontier softball
One of several Frontier players having to make a move from a different position to fill the hole left by last year's seniors, Childs moved from second to short shop and had a .720 fielding percentage — though many of her errors came early in the season while getting acclimated to the new position. At the plate, Childs hit .298 with 19 RBI, 15 walks and 17 runs scored out of the six hole.
Jamie Degeorge, Stillwater volleyball
The senior libero at Stillwater was a member of the all-conference first team and earned a spot on the all-tournament team in the Comet Tournament of Champions. She earned MaxPreps Player of the Week this season and finished the year with 343 digs.
Dani Deroin, Frontier softball
The lone returning senior on the Frontier softball squad — though her twin sister joined the team to help with numbers — Deroin was the leader of the Lady Mustangs squad. From the five hole, Deroin hit .267 with seven doubles, three triples and 18 runs batted in. Her biggest contribution came in the field, where she had a fielding percentage of .926 at third base — committing just three errors all season, despite seeing plenty of action due to teams bunting as a way to get on base against Jalissa Gum.
Rachel Harper, Stillwater softball
Harper had a nearly unblemished mark out in the outfield with a fielding percentage of .935. At the plate, she hit .316 with three triples, 15 runs scored and six runs batted in.
Kiley Josey, Stillwater volleyball
The sophomore left side hitter earned a spot on the all-conference second team. She finished with 109 kills for the year with 247 digs and 43 service aces.
Devin Kerns, Stillwater volleyball
The senior middle blocker was a four-year varsity member and made her second straight appearance on the all-conference first team. Kerns led the team in blocks with 54 solo and 44 assists.
Peyton Meacham, Stillwater volleyball
The sophomore right side hitter is a two-year varsity member and earned a nod on the all-conference second team. Meacham had 105 kills for the year and finished with 30 block assists and five solo blocks.
Kinzy Millard, Stillwater softball
The Stillwater battery mate had a field percentage of .897 from the catcher position. At the plate, Millard averaged .280 with six doubles, 15 RBI, 13 walks and 24 runs scored.
Torri Russell, Stillwater softball
Russell split time between catcher and third base and still finished with a fielding percentage of .924 for the Lady Pioneers. At the plate, Russell hit .313 with a .396 slugging percentage with six doubles, 11 runs and 18 RBI.
Jenny Scarbrough, Stillwater softball
Scarbrough led the Lady Pioneers in batting average with a .395 with 16 runs scored and nine runs batted in. From the first base position, she had a fielding percentage of .972.
Megan Short, Stillwater softball
The Stillwater short stop had a team-high 19 runs batted in and had a batting average of .310 with four doubles, one triple and 18 runs scored. Had an above-average glove in the field with a .844 fielding percentage at short.
Brooke Stokes, Stillwater softball
The Stillwater outfielder had a batting average of .348 and slugging percentage of .416 as she had four doubles, one triple and 17 RBI, while scoring 15 runs. Out in the field, Stokes had a fielding percentage of .889.
Chablee Sanders, Stillwater cross country
The sophomore runner earned all-conference and all-region honors for the second consecutive season. She finished second at both the Enid and Ponca City meets and was fourth in the conference championship.
Barbara Stone, Stillwater cross country
Stone earned all-conference honors for the Lady Pioneers. Her best finish was second at the Perry meet and finished eighth in the conference championship.
Tiffany Young, Frontier softball
The junior center fielder hit out of the three hole for the Lady Mustangs and registered a .293 batting average with 28 RBI and a slugging percentage of .402.