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January 25, 2013Cowley softball team hopes to make another run at national title
After matching the highest finish in the history of the program by placing fourth at last year's national tournament, the Cowley College softball team is hungry for another chance at a national title.
Returning four starters and five sophomores from last year's team, Cowley head coach Ed Hargrove added some talented freshmen to the mix.
"On paper, this may be the best recruiting class we have ever had," Hargrove said.
Needing to make up for the loss of all three of last year's pitchers on the team, Cowley has added three freshmen pitchers and a sophomore transfer to battle for the starting spots.
The freshmen are, Jessica Seay from Harrah (OK) High School, Brooke Benge from Enid (OK) High School, and Kristen Hall from Southwest High School in Fort Worth, Texas.
Hall went 36-2 with an ERA of 0.23 a senior, while Benge won 20 games and posted an ERA of 1.32 in 230 inning pitched. Seay, who had arguably the most productive fall of the three freshmen, went 15-8 with 202 strikeouts and an earned run average of 0.72 as a senior.
Sophomore transfer Keelyn Bonar spent her freshman season pitching at Jayhawk East rival Allen County, where she compiled a record of 15-14 with a 2.90 ERA and 147 strikeouts.
"She will be the anchor and the power pitcher for us," Hargrove said.
Bonar also handles the bat well as she batted .442 with 17 doubles, three home runs and 38 RBI's.
"It will be a different looking staff than last year, but I think by mid-season we could be better than last year," Hargrove said.
Freshman Shelby Smith from Southmoore (OK) High School, led the team in hitting (.488) in the fall and will open the season in rightfield. While, freshman Jordan Haya from Wabaunsee High School batted .387 in the fall and will start in leftfield.
Freshman Caitlyn Cosme from Norman, OK, had a solid season in goal for the Lady Tiger soccer team and will now look to help the softball team at third base or as a backup shortstop.
Fellow freshman Stephanie Couser from Moore (OK) High School will play second base so that returning All-American Haley Strawn can move from second to the starting shortstop position. Couser batted .458 during fall ball.
Strawn concluded an outstanding freshman season by being named a NJCAA and NFCA First-Team All-American at second base. Placed in the leadoff spot because of her above average ability to get on base (.540 on base percentage) Strawn led the Lady Tigers in six hitting categories including batting average (.505), home runs (20), runs scored (82), hits (107), doubles (29) and slugging percentage (.925). She was second on the team in RBI's with 69. She broke Cowley single-season records with her hits and runs totals. She was also a unanimous pick for First-Team All-Jayhawk East Conference and unanimous First-Team All-Region VI.
Sophomore centerfielder Laura Seemann was also named a NJCAA and NFCA First-Team All-American as a freshman. She ended the season second on the team in batting average (.503), second in runs scored (64), third in hits (88), second in home runs (15), third in RBI's (67), second in slugging percentage (.846) and first in on-base percentage (.551). Seemann was also a unanimous selection for First-Team All-Jayhawk East Conference and unanimous First-Team All-Region VI.
"It's hard to better what Haley and Laura did last year, but if they get anywhere near what they did last year they will provide us with a great offensive boost," Hargrove said.
Along with Strawn and Seemann, Cowley returns Colby Dresher (.317 average, 37 RBI's) at first base and Austen Hilt (.381 average, 35 RBI's) at third base.
McKenzy Sisson, the other returning sophomore, batted .429 and had a 1.000 fielding percentage in limited playing time as a freshman. The experience she gained a year ago will aid her as she looks for more playing time behind the plate.
Hargrove feels good about the sophomores that return to the team.
"It's a great group to build around," Hargrove said.
Cowley will need to make up for the loss of last year's catcher Taylor Hatfield (.402 average, 71 runs batted in), who led the team in RBI's. They will also need someone to help fill the void of the loss of Carleigh Hall (.449 average and 10 stolen bases).
Other freshmen looking to help during the season and be in the hunt for playing time are, Melaney Anderson, Taylor Green and Rondeci Oliver who were teammates at Westmoore (OK) High School. Taylor Watham from Blanchard (OK) High School, Sierra Schumacher from Mission Valley High School, and Tiffany Snyder and Emily Davis from McPherson High School will also vie for playing time.
"A real key is learning early in the season what each person's role on the team will be," Hargrove said. "If we can develop good team chemistry I think we can be as good or better than last year."
Last season the top-four teams in the Jayhawk Conference Eastern Division were separated by only two games in the standings.
"The conference will be good once again," Hargrove said. "I think there are eight legitimate teams that could win the two districts."
Cowley will open the season by hosting Northern Oklahoma College at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5. Cowley will then be guaranteed the opportunity to play six games at the Cowtown Classic in Fort Worth, Texas on Feb. 8-9.
"I am anxious to see how we stack up early in the season," Hargrove said.