By Chris Cox
After finishing 23-14 and making it to the state semifinals in 2020, expectations for the Claremore Lady Zebras softball team are high.
“When you’re returning six starters, expectations are really high,” says Claremore head coach Derek Short. “The girls have those expectations as well. This team made to the state tournament and state semifinals last year and the expectation is to be right back there this fall.”
Short, who is entering his first year as head coach after spending six as the assistant coach at Claremore, says his team goes as senior catcher Maddox Thomas goes.
“She’s going to be a four-year starter for us,” Short says. “She’s our field general. She’s the rock of this team.”
Thomas has seen a lot of success in her career, both offensively and defensively. From the plate, Thomas will bat third. In 2020 Thomas hit .469 with seven homeruns, 37 RBI, 18 walks, and just three strikeouts. Those numbers were good enough for Thomas to earn the district 5A-3 Offensive Player of the Year award last year.
As important as she is on offense, she might be even more crucial to Claremore’s success from her catcher position. Claremore will be using two pitchers this year in sophomores Jaz Cookson and Vivian Scuggins that have not pitched a lot at the varsity level.
“I wouldn’t call our pitching a weakness because they can both go in there and win games for us,” Short says. “But the experience from our pitchers will be where the growing pains are this year.”
Claremore has a good mix of upper and lower classmen on their roster. The Lady Zebras have five senior starters in Maddox at catcher, first baseman Julia Hoffman, second baseman Paiten Reavis, shortstop Jadyn Muns, and left fielder Abbey Hagen. They also return junior third baseman Emily Rogers. Joining the six returning starters in the field will be freshmen outfielders Halle Bucktrot and Grace Weaver.
Claremore is set to get their season underway on August 10th when they take on Ft. Gibson.