By Matt Turer — @MattTurer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
HEAD COACH: Beth Garrett
2017 RECORD: 22-5
2017 POSTSEASON: Lost 5-1 to Purdy in the state quarterfinals
The best bat in spring softball and one of its best arms call Pierce City home, and that makes this a very dangerous team.
The Eagles won 22 games last season and pushed state-runner-up Purdy to what really was a close 5-1 loss in the state quarterfinals.
That best bat belongs to all-state senior catcher Ali Raley. And the arm is all-state senior pitcher Ragan Blinzer.
Raley is a threat at the plate regardless of who’s pitching (she singled and doubled off Purdy ace Hallie Henderson in that quarterfinal loss). She finished 2017 with 39 extra-base hits in 27 games. Those power numbers and her .617 average helped bolster an area-high 2.083 OPS. She led all batters in the region in doubles (23), homers (10) and RBIs (57). If she hits the .600 clip again this year it will be Raley’s third straight season above that mark.
First year head coach Beth Garrett said Raley has been working even harder since last summer as she prepares for her softball career at Evangel University.
Garrett replaces Kacy Whitley, who was 91-33 (.734) over five seasons at Pierce City.
Tossing to Raley is Blinzer. Her size isn’t imposing, but Blinzer is one of the scrappiest and well-rounded athletes in the sport. Her 2.01 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 185 strikeouts in 146 1/3 innings against one of the tougher spring softball schedules was worth an all-state selection alone. But she can do it at the plate too, where she knocked 18 extra-base hits and stole 27 bases with a .464 average. She’s expected to leadoff this year.
“They are incredibly motivated to push themselves this season,” Garrett said of Raley and Blinzer. “Ragan and Ali bring a wealth of knowledge about the game of softball to the team that allows them to be natural leaders. Individually, these girls are genuinely hard-working [on and off the field].”
Pierce City graduated all-state infielder Hannah Argyris in addition to Kristen Jones, and Jessica Prescott.
A good group returns behind Blinzer and Raley as well in Libbey Strickler (2B/SS), Lexi Eck (OF/2B), Peighton Haddock (DH), Miya Washburn (OF) and Jerika Brown (2B/OF).
“Expectations for the 2018 season are to continue to work hard and be better each day,” Garrett said. “The senior players chose the quote, ‘It never gets easier, you just get better,” as their motivation for this season. We will work each day to reach goals that the players have set individually and as a team.”