Lady Tiger Softball Team Eager To Build Off Last Season’s Success

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By RAMA PEROO/Cowley College

Coming off its best season in four years, the Cowley College softball team is poised to do even bigger things in the upcoming season. The Lady Tigers, who went 38-14 and finished second in the conference last season, have been picked to finish first in the Jayhawk Conference (Division II).

Highlighting the list of returning players is sophomore Maci Cole, who was named an NJCAA Division II All-American and Freshman of the Year in the conference after batting .486 with 14 home runs, 20 doubles, and 62 runs batted in during the 2022 season. Cole added six triples and 27 stolen bases. Along with playing in the infield, Cole will also see time behind the plate.

“Maci had a great freshman year and will continue to be a leader for us,” Cowley head coach Jenny Hoyt said.

Sydney Price and Tye North also garnered First Team All-Conference honors as freshmen. Price excelled on the mound and at the plate as the all-conference utility selection batted .341 with eight home runs and 39 runs batted in while going 13-4 with a 2.22 earned run average on the mound.

Kyla Bonnarens is a transfer from Frank Phillips College that will play for first base for the Lady Tigers. She batted. 369 while leading Frank Phillips in home runs (8) and runs batted in (37).

“She will be a huge asset to our lineup,” Hoyt said.

Laramie Neff batted .247 with two home runs and 15 runs batted in as a freshman. The coaches are looking forward to having her leadership in the infield. Mya Chapman also returns and utilized her speed to steal 16 bases while recording a .327 on-base percentage during the 2022 season.

“Laramie and Mya have matured since their freshman seasons and know what to expect in the program,” Hoyt said.

Another valuable returning player is catcher Aaliyah Ahmed, who batted .293 with 32 runs batted in.

“Having that core group back will help us,” Hoyt said.

Cowley also returns three pitchers that look to make up for the loss of Ashlynn Mercer, who anchored the pitching staff for the past three seasons. The returning pitchers are Sydney Price, Kennedy Toothman, and Mercer’s sister Taylor. Neosho County transfer Ellie Kuntz also brings experience to the pitching staff.

Along with the returning players, Hoyt and assistant coach Tori Reibenspies have recruited some talented incoming players.

“We have a good freshman class that is athletic and versatile,” Hoyt said.

Freshman pitchers Saige Smith and Jaala Nowlin are solid additions to the pitching staff. Smith is an all-state pitcher that was high school teammates with Tye North and Maci Cole at Broken Arrow (OK), while Nowlin is a homeschooled athlete that trained through the PSA Organization in the Kansas City Area.

“Saige and Jaala had good fall seasons and will help us have a strong year in the pitching circle,” Hoyt said. “We expect those two to throw a lot of innings. We have more options on the mound this year and have a good mixture of power and speed.”

Other freshmen on the roster are Kaitlynn Anderson, Shayne Roberts, Grace Cook, Cherokee Hibbs, Andrea Kaffure, Emily Louderback, McKinzi Sowles, and Karleigh Bell.

Cowley will open the season by playing some tough teams before getting into conference play.

“We will be tested early and see some good competition in Texas,” Hoyt said. “Our early season schedule will prepare us to play in one of the toughest conferences in the nation.”

Hoyt is optimistic about the 2023 season and believes her team has a chance to do big things.

“We need to play together, work together, and share in each other’s successes,” Hoyt said. “I just want us to maintain good energy and effort throughout the entire season. If we do that, we should be successful.”

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