NORMAN — Ed Hargrove is getting to know his way around Oklahoma. The Cowley College softball coach seemingly went to every corner of Cleveland County looking for players.
Hargrove’s mission culminated on National Signing Day when he signed five players from the three area high schools to national letters of intent to one of the top junior colleges in the nation.
“This whole metro-Oklahoma City area has really good softball and some of the best players I’ve ever had,” Hargrove said. “This is my 28th year and some of my best players have been from this area. Now I’m signing 10, basically from this area. Five today and five previously.”
Hargrove went back to Arkansas City, Kan. Wednesday with the signatures of Shelby Smith (Southmoore), Stephanie Couser (Moore) and Melaney Anderson, Rondeci Olive and Taylor Green, (Westmoore).
Norman North’s Caitlyn Cosme signed to Cowley the week before.
“I think it says a lot,” Smith said. “Here in Moore, we are very dominant in softball. We all do a very good job and played together growing up. I think that helped a lot.”
Of the 16 players on the Lady Tigers’ roster this year, 15 hail from Kansas. Former Southmoore standout Haley Strawn is the only player from outside the state’s border.
But Strawn’s impact has been so strong that Hargrove wanted to find more just like her.
“First off, these schools in this area play really good softball,” Hargrove said, “but last year we signed Haley Strawn from Southmoore. And Haley kind of got our foot in the door on all these other people because everyone knows Haley. And she is going to be one of our best players. I credit a lot of this to Haley.”
But the players also liked what they saw at Cowley and wanted to be part of it. That includes five trips to the NJCAA National Tournament.
“I saw that they had a really good structured school for the program that I want to be in,” Olive said. “Their softball team has a lot of accomplishments and I want to be a part of it. We have a strong softball program around here. I know we will help out with the team in Cowley.”
Cowley will look completely different next year. It will have a distinct Oklahoma flavor. Along with the six girls from Norman, Moore and the entire Oklahoma City metro area have athletes heading to Cowley.
“We lose 11 sophomores after this season,” Hargrove said. “But I feel with this group of Moore, Southmoore, Westmoore and the other metro kids we have coming in, we won’t skip a beat. We will continue to win.”
Michael Kinney 366-3537 firstname.lastname@example.org