The Buffaloes enter the 2022 campaign with the experience of five returning starters and the eagerness of multiple new faces ready for their chance in the spotlight as head coach Kelleya Cox begins her ninth year in the dugout at McAlester.
Brooklyn Weiher (1B, Jr.) leads the list of veteran performers along with Madison Ayers (3B, Jr.), Kynli Jones (P, Sr.), Jada Ponce (LF, Jr.) and Madigan Griffith (RF, Sr.).
“It’s a good nucleus of talent and desire among those five girls,” said Cox. “Brooklyn is a 3-year starter that gives us power at the plate while Kynli’s confidence in the circle is growing day by day. Madison, who made All-District as a sophomore is our quiet leader whose glove at third base is like a vacuum cleaner.”
Cox, who begins her 24th year coaching softball, was all smiles when talking about the “all-in” efforts of the two returning outfielders.
“Jada has no fear whenever she’s at the plate or going after balls hit to the outfield. Madigan runs like a deer that let’s her cutoff anything in the gap for outs or limiting opponents chances for the extra base.”
Jones, Ponce and Griffith were also part of McAlester’s Class 5A state championship basketball team that included four starters who played softball last year.
Competition is intense to see who will earn the coach’s nod for a starter’s role to fill the four vacancies left by graduation.
“We’re filling in our middle positions that are key for every team’s success in softball,” said Cox.
Behind the plate, Emily Shelton (C, So.) appears to be the front-runner while last year’s designated hitter Casey Woods (So.) fills the opening at shortstop. Aleisha Nixon (Fr.) and Shylie Mason (So.) are battling at second base while Kamryn Wilkett (Jr.) or Alyssa Nixon (Fr.) compete to play in centerfield. Mason is also ticketed for innings in the pitcher’s circle.
Cox likes the mix of talent and willingness to compete of the entire roster. Also expected to solidify the total team approach will be Holly Shreffler (1B, Sr.), Ravin Hamlin (3B, Sr.), Averie Alberson (OF, So.), Bailey Marshall (IF, So.), Chloe Wall (1B, So.) and Trinitie Williams (OF, Fr.).
Cox has added two more new faces to the Buffs softball program as Holly Jernigan and Ashton Slawson will be on the field as assistant coaches this fall.