Posted: Wednesday, 17 October 2012 5:28PM

Athlete of the Week: Ozark softball player Abbie Clanton

When Ozark senior pitcher Abbie Clanton was in elementary school watching her older sister pitch for Ozark, she had one message for her future head coach Yancey Little.

“Coach Little, I will take you to state” is what Clanton remembers telling Little as a young girl.

Clanton has finally made good on that promise as the Tigers prepare to open play in the state semifinals Friday against Francis Howell, but the trip to get to this point has not been an easy one for Clanton.

Clanton pitched for Ozark as a freshman on varsity, and then in her sophomore year her role expanded even more.

Then disaster struck in the district title game her sophomore year.

"He (Coach Little) put me in the second inning (of the district championship). I got to my third batter and on the very last pitch of that third batter it was a curve ball,” Clanton said. “At that instant I just knew I tore something."

Her initial reaction was confirmed as Clanton had torn her labrum on that final pitch, which was an injury that would require a sixth-month rehab.

Clanton was able to pitch her junior year, but was still not quite the same.

"Last year as a junior she pitched probably at 75 or 80 percent," Little said. "She had been the ace before, but last year Brittany Nimmo, a freshman, came in and took over that ace role. I know that was hard for her (Clanton) to take."

The reduction in role was difficult for Clanton, but it is also where she found her motivation.

"My junior year it was kind of a struggle. I was probably only 80 or 90-percent back in the pitching shape I was before. It was tough. It was mentally tough, but she (Nimmo) is a good pitcher. She helped us win districts last year," Clanton said. "I thought she (Nimmo) worked hard (and) she worked over you and I thought you have to get better before next year if you want your spot back."

Clanton continued to work all summer long with a travel team along with her most consistent training partner, her grandfather.

"My grandpa, I believe he is 70 or 71, he still catches me to this day,” Clanton said. “He has taught me everything I know about pitching.”

The work has paid off as Clanton is finishing her high school career with her strongest season yet.

"She didn't throw with confidence (last year). She was scared to throw some pitches last year as a junior. This year she is confident and she is 100-percent," Little said. "She has really come into her own this year, especially here late in the season.”

Clanton will take the ball against Francis Howell at 2 p.m. on Friday in the state semifinals.

Filed Under :  
Topics : OzarkSoftball
People : Abbie ClantonBrittany NimmoYancey Little
Photo Galleries

Pictures: Best of 2013-14 Springfield Central Bulldogs

Catch the best photos from the 2013-14 Central Bulldogs.

Pictures: Lasers vs Kastles

The Springfield Lasers hosted the Washington Kastles for the World Team Tennis title match.

Pictures: Best of 2013-14 Springfield Catholic Irish

Catch the best photos from the 2013-14 Irish athletic year.
O-Zone Opinion
Mohawk Chronicles: Oklahoma the right choice for Dorial Green-Beckham
Dorial Green-Beckham is now an Oklahoma Sooner. If you're scratching your head right now, you're not alone. Yes, DGB will have to sit out the entire 2014 season, something that he wouldn't have had to do had he transferred to a FCS or D-2, but is...
Read More
Mohawk Chronicles: Ozark Conference 7v7 Football recap
For the third summer in a row Kickapoo hosted the Ozark Conference 7v7 Tournament. Here is a recap from the 3rd annual event. The Champs are here For the first time in the 3-year history of the Ozark Conference 7-on-7 Tournament someone...
Read More
The future is now for local soccer
We’re graduating a great crop of senior soccer players this spring. Anywhere from 15-25 will not only contend for all-state honors once the season is over, but also keep playing in college next school year. So, who replaces some of those top...
Read More
Most Viewed