By Chris Parker
There are many talented softball players across our coverage area that features more than 60 teams. Below are some of the top softball players to watch this season
This watchlist can be found in print in the Fall O-Zone Preview Magazine available this week at all southwest Missouri Casey’s general stores.
Haidyn Berry, Webb City Senior
Berry returns as one of the area’s best pitchers after earning second-team all-state, first-team all-region and COC Player of the Year honors as a junior. She started 24 games in the circle for the Cardinals in 2020, striking out 174 batters in 139.1 innings with a 2.46 ERA (1.17 WHIP) and an 18-5 mark. Berry swung the bat at a high rate as well, slashing .418/.432/.648 with 16 extra-base hits and 29 RBIs.
Katie Brooks, Bolivar Senior
Brooks was named second-team all-state as a junior. The University of Kansas commit is a versatile weapon for Bolivar. Bolivar returns ace and shortstop Katie Brooks. The senior and University of Kansas commit earned second-team all-state honors in Class 3 last season. As a pitcher, Brooks went 15-5 overall with a 1.28 ERA, 252 strikeouts and only 20 walks in 131 innings pitched (.672 WHIP).
Ellie Facklam, Kickapoo Senior
Facklam returns to the circle at pitcher for her senior year. She earned second-team all-state honors last year while leading the Lady Chiefs in hits at the plate. Facklam also was named the Ozark Conference Pitcher of the Year.
Faith Gilkey, Walnut Grove Senior
Gilkey, who is one of the area’s top basketball players, is also one of the area’s top softball players. She earned second-team all-state honors last year. She hit .408 with 20 RBIs, 20 runs scored and 24 stolen bases last season. She will shift back to shortstop this year after pitching last season.
Emme Hall, Bolivar Senior
Hall, a second-team all-state honoree, brings speed to Bolivar in center field. She hit .402 (.458 on-base percentage), with 13 extra-base hits, 24 RBIs, 35 runs and eight steals. She is a key asset to Bolivar both at the plate and with her strong defense.
Chloe Merced, Kickapoo Senior
Merced is one of the top infielders in the area at shortstop. She earned second-team all-region and first-team all-conference honors in 2019. The Kickapoo senior led the team in stolen bases, while striking out just one time all last season.
Halle Miles, Rogersville Sophomore
Miles was a force at pitcher in her freshman season on her way to first-team all-region and first-team all-conference honors. In the circle, she went 11-1 overall with a 2.27 ERA in 74 innings. At the plate, Miles hit .455 with nine home runs, 12 doubles, 36 RBIs and 25 runs scored.
Kaitlyn Ragsdale, Republic Senior
There are few, if any, players in the area who are faster than Ragsdale. She again will hit leadoff for the Lady Tigers after batting .439, while stealing 30 bases last year. She earned second-team all-state honors along with first-team all-region and all-conference honors.
Others to Watch
Jenna Daggett, Weaubleau Senior
Rainy Jarrett, Norwood Senior
Kaitlyn Killion, Neosho Junior
Jaden LaBarge, Kickapoo Senior
Jenna Lane, Rogersville Junior
Kenna Mayfield, Ozark Junior
Madeline McCall, McDonald County Junior
Avery McClure, Bolivar Junior
Maggie McKee, Kickapoo Senior
MaKayla McVay, Walnut Grove Senior
Emma Rakes, Camdenton Senior
Ryley Ritchey, Willard Junior