By Chris Parker
Sarcoxie softball has been one of the area’s most consistent programs since spring softball started five years ago. The Bears have won at least 12 games in each of the five seasons and have yet to finish below .500.
“We have been fortunate to have had competitive pitching along with a consistent offense with power,” Sarcoxie head coach Dale Rice said. “We also had multiple players with a high softball IQ that played in leagues outside of high school. The seniors of 2019 were a solid core of players for us since their freshman year.”
Sarcoxie will look to keep that consistency going this year behind a young squad.
Sophomore Hailey Garrison returns to the middle of the infield at shortstop and second base after earning all-region honors last year. Garrison brings prodigious power to the plate after hitting 19 home runs last year with a.487 average.
“Hailey has a good knowledge of the game with the athletic ability to play multiple potions. She runs well, has a very good arm and is a strong competitor at the plate,” Rice said.
Outfielder Shayna Watson is the only senior projected to be on the roster. Juniors Kyann Ogle (pitcher/infield), Jessica Hinkle (outfield) and Ashley Calvin (outfield) will comprise the junior class. Ogle hit .343 last year and went 5-3 in the circle. Hinkle hit .382 as a sophomore.
In addition to Garrison, the deep sophomore class includes: Brooklyn Carr (catcher/shortstop), Reese Clifton (pitcher/third base), Jessica Fieker (pitcher) and Shellyn Buckley (outfield). Carr led that group with a .416 batting average, 22 runs scored and 28 stolen bases last year. Clifton hit .514 while also going 2-0 in the circle.
The freshman class includes: Maci Garrison (catcher/utility), Kaydence Flynn (first base), Emma Plybon (utility), Kaylee Burris (utility), Jocelyn Benito (utility), Kaylan Anderson (outfield).
This year’s version of Sarcoxie softball should be an offensive force, but the Bears will have to work to remain consistent.
“The offense should be dynamic this year with good average, power and speed. We have pitchers returning that have experience and some good games in their past. They should be able to keep us competitive throughout the season,” Rice said. “Being a young team, consistency is going to be the key for this team. This team has a tremendous amount of potential. If we can keep our focus on improving each day we should be able to have a good year.”
Rice will continue to challenge his team with a daunting schedule.
“Our schedule last year may have been the toughest schedule that we have played in the 15 years that I’ve been coaching here. This year’s schedule is just as challenging. If we have 12 to 15 wins this year and continue to improve as the year goes along, it will be a good year for this young team,” Rice said.
Sarcoxie opens the season Mar. 20-21 with its home tournament.