COLORADO SPRINGS, COL.—In a vote of Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference and Region II coaches, sports information directors, Connors State Cowboys have been tabbed the favorite to win the OCAC...
WARNER –Connors State begins its quest to reach the National Junior Athletic Association Softball College World Series in St. George, Utah on Friday with the opening round of the Region II Tournament at Coweta High School.
Connors (36-15) enters the double elimination tournament as the No. 3 seed and will battle Western Oklahoma State (23-22) at 4 p.m. A win over the Lady Pioneers will advance the Cowgirls to the winners’ bracket game at 10 am. Saturday against the winner of the Northeastern A&M and Rose State game.
The winner of the Region II Tournament will host the Southwest District Tournament next week against the Region 23 champion with that winner heading to the national tournament.
Two reasons the Cowgirls have reached the Region Tournament are freshman pitcher Kristen Reasnor, the No.1 hitter in the NJCAA and sophomore Chelsie Drew, who has tied the Connors State mark for home runs in a season with 15. The Connors outfielder is expected to break the mark in the tournament.
Cowgirls head coach Rick Carbone has nothing but praise for Reasnor and Drew for their play this season.
“Kristen brings a lot to the table,” said Carbone. “She is an unselfish player, with a good attitude and teammate. Chelsie has really developed into a great hitter and is an outstanding defensive player.”
Drew, who hit only hit six home runs her freshman year, attributes her new found power to the instruction to assistant coach Mike Deese. “Coach Deese helped me a ton,” said Drew, who is also hitting .396 on the year. “I am 100 percent better player than last year. I am a hard player to coach because I learned certain things. He fixed things and gave me the confidence that I needed to be a good hitter.
“I have adjusted my swing and have not been swinging at rise ball like I did last year.” Concerning the tournament Drew said, “I feel good about our chances. Just as long we play like we are capable we should have no problem,” said Drew.
“With our lineup, the opposition can’t just focus on Chelsie and they have to pitch to her,” said Carbone. “I am surprised about all the power that we have in our lineup. I told this group going into the season that you are not power hitters. But that hasn’t played out,” said Carbone.
Reasnor sits atop the NJCAA hitting chart with a national leading .568 batting average, while also knocking out 12 home runs and recording a 14-8 record inside the circle.
The freshman is the first Connors batter, under Carbone tutelage to lead the nation in hitting.
“I am pretty excited about it (batting average) and it’s going to be pretty tough to beat it next year,” said Reasnor. “I just work on my batting all the time and always practicing. I never quit.”
“At the plate Kristen has a general knowledge on how they are going to pitch her, said Carbone.” Being unselfish at the plate, she reminds me of Tony Quinn (Hall of Famer Tony Quinn). She sprays the ball everywhere and has a lot of pop in her bat.”
The Quinton freshman admitted that her pitching has helped her at the plate. “I would say that having a pitcher’s concept at the plate does help. I don’t go after any particular pitch. If it’s near the plate I go for it.”
And go for it she has. Besides her 10 home runs, she has knocked out 18 doubles and drove home 60 teammates across the plate.
Reasnor is confident entering the tournament and says Seminole is on her radar. “I have some revenge in my eye.”
Carbone knows his club is looking at No. 1 seed Seminole and No. 2 NEO, but he has warned his club “don’t overlook Western; they are a good hitting club.”