By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The Frontier Lady Mustangs continued one of their softball traditions this fall as they advanced to the state tournament for the third straight season. In 2013, Frontier hopes to return with a younger squad.
“We had high expectations going in with four returning senior starters to lead us,” coach Erron Kauk said. “Even though we lost our star pitcher (Jalissa Gum) when we did, we still got there. I’m very proud of their effort.”
Gum fractured her ulna in her pitching arm in a Aug. 27 game against Perry and didn’t return until regionals at the end of September. Frontier didn’t take a step back during that time as freshman Michael Ann Nelson took over pitching duties and posted a 14-4 record. In districts and regionals she was unhitable as she pitched six shutouts.
Gum, will continue her career in college as she got a full scholarship to pitch and play shortstop at Arkansas Tech. Kauk said you can’t replace that kind of athlete but is confident in the girls he has coming up.
“She broke all of our school records in offense and pitching,” Kauk said. “She worked hard and helped build to the future.”
Frontier is unsure if it will compete in slowpitch this spring.
The Perry Lady Maroons hope this season started a new tradition for their softball program as they advanced to state for the first time since 1988.
“It was a huge deal for our program,” coach Bryan Hayes said. “We loved the opportunity. One of my sophomores told me ‘We are going back next year and not coming home without a trophy.’ I told her let’s go for it.”
The Lady Maroons will have the difficult task of replacing starting pitcher Jayde Hansen, who was key to their run to state. Hayes is confident is younger girls will step.
“My sophomore (Mariah Ewy) who was our No. 2 went 15-0 last season,” Hayes said. “We got girls who are ready to step in.”
The Perkins-Tryon Lady Demons will look to build on their success from 2012 as it advanced to regionals.
Coach Carla Hart said she was happy with how her team finished especially since they were a young team.
“We struggled here and there,” Hart said. “We won districts with two victories over Chandler. I’m really looking forward to next year. I should have four seniors and the future looks bright.”
The Glencoe Lady Panthers recorded accomplishments that they haven’t made in almost 15 years. They won their first regular season tournament in 14 years. Hosting districts on its own field, Glencoe won the two-day tournament and advanced to regionals.
“Overall it was a successful season,” coach Tabathia Wright said. “We finished with seven more wins and built some momentum to the spring and hopefully we will carry over to next year.”
Next year, the Lady Panthers will have a new hurler as Summer Jefferies graduates. Wright said it’s tough to replace players but their impact carries on.
“Summer has passed a lot stuff to the younger girls,” Wright said. “They see how important leadership is. “We will miss Jefferies next year but she has passed her traits on to the younger girls to carry her torch.”
The Glencoe Panthers will look to build on a season that finished a couple runs short of the state tournament.
“We are looking at that like it’s our unfinished business,” coach Tony Cazzelle said. “We should be one of the top ranked teams in Class A in the spring. If we take care of business and get our pitching we should make it to state in the spring.”
Most of Glencoe’s players are now playing basketball but Cazzelle doesn’t think it will take long to get back to baseball.
“We’ll have a late start,” Cazzelle said. “We have a good schedule. We are playing every day during spring break.”
The Ripley Warriors were a victory short of advancing to regionals and hope for a stronger spring season.
“I felt that we got better each week,” coach Donnie Hoffman said. “I’m pleased with our kids, I think we played our best baseball in the last two weeks of the season. In district we went against (Nathan) Melton. He’s a good pitcher but we were able to get a couple runs off of him.”
Like Glencoe, most of Hoffman’s players are playing basketball during the winter but has a couple players going through off season.
“We are trying to get stronger,” Hoffman said. “We are doing some running and conditioning. We will start throwing and hitting programs after January.”