Winning a school-record 55 games and achieving its highest-ever national finish during the 2013 season, the Cowley College softball team is eager to make another run at a national championship.
Cowley suffered a pair of one-run defeats while placing third at last year's national tournament.
"I have been doing this for 29 years and that was the closest we had been to winning a national championship, so I would like to think this is the year we finally get over the hump," Cowley head coach Ed Hargrove said.
The Lady Tigers, which are ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA Division II preseason poll, will open their season at the Weatherford College Roundrobin Saturday in Weatherford, Texas. Cowley will play games at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and 3 p.m.
Cowley has the task of replacing five starters that helped the Lady Tigers go 104-16 and capture a pair of conference titles over the past two seasons. Those gone from the program are, shortstop Haley Strawn (.466 average, 13 home runs, 60 RBIs), leftfielder Laura Seemann (.437 average, eight home runs, 50 RBIs), third baseman Austen Hilt (.363 average, five home runs, 42 RBIs), first baseman Colby Dresher (.381 average, seven home runs, 39 RBIs), and pitcher/designated hitter Keelyn Bonar (26-5 record, .429 batting average).
Strawn and Seemann were both All-Americans and their offensive power will be tough to replace. Strawn finished her Lady Tiger career as the school's all-time leader in hits in a season (107), hits in a career (204), runs scored in a season (82), runs scored in a career (164), most times at bat in a season (212), and most times at bat in a career (420). While, Seemann was a two-time First-Team All-American.
"We are losing power, but adding speed and base stealing abilities," Hargrove said.
Freshman Jenna Trissel from Leedey, OK will take over in rightfield, while freshman Morgan Swisher from Arkansas City will take the reigns in leftfield. Trissel is one of the fastest players on the team as she was successful on each of her 61 stolen base attempts during her high school career. Swisher, a lefty slapper, is equally quick on the base paths as evidenced by her 20 stolen bases as a senior.
"We will be a little different type of team this year, with more slappers and speed type players," Hargrove said.
Sarah Glass from Maize High School will attempt to make up for the loss of Haley Strawn at shortstop. Glass has good range and a good arm, while batting .410 and being named All-State as a junior and senior.
Freshman Katie Holmes, who led the team in batting in the fall, will likely see playing time as the team's designated hitter.
Along with the freshmen, Cowley returns several talented players from last year's team, including First-Team All-American Caitlyn Cosme (.403 average, 13 home runs, 77 RBIs), Second-Team NFCA All-American centerfielder Jordan Haya (.403 average, eight home runs, 60 RBIs), second baseman Stephanie Couser (.410 average, 13 home runs, 51 RBIs), Rondeci Oliver (.378 average, 24 RBIs, catcher Taylor Watham (.289 average, 16 RBIs) and Jessica Seay, who went 28-1 with an earned run average of 1.66.