By BEN JOHNSON
Kelsey Leach blazed a path of success while putting on her Sequoyah softball uniform. As a freshman and sophomore, she posted back-to-back seasons of hitting at least .400 with positive reviews in the field, too.
Then she came back to post stellar numbers again during her senior campaign. Wait, came back?
That's right, Leach was forced to sit out her junior season at Sequoyah because she was ruled to have been participating illegally while playing softball for the Lady Indians.
The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, after stripping Sequoyah of its slowpitch state championship from 2012 because of Leach's ineligibility, later reinstated Leach and restored the Lady Indians' first-ever softball championship — in fastpitch or slowpitch.
However, Leach never got her junior year back. So she returned with a vengeance during her senior season in 2013.
While leading Class 3A No. 1 Sequoyah to a 34-7 season, which ended with a 5-3 loss to Washington in the championship game, Leach recorded a .444 batting average to go along with nine home runs, 40 runs batted in, 12 doubles, 11 stolen bases and a .507 on-base percentage.
All those numbers were to hard for the Oklahoma High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association to ignore, thus Leach as named as an All-State participant on the Middle East team, which will take on the Middle West in the summer months of 2014.
"I feel honored," Leach said of her All-State distinction. "(Sequoyah) Coach (Jeff) Turtle told me at school and I was excited."
All of Leach's statistics earned her something else this week. She was offered the chance to play college softball at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and on Tuesday she signed her letter of intent inside The Place Where They Play.
"It's exciting to know that what I've worked so hard for, for so long, is finally becoming a reality," said Leach, who posted 28 home runs, 102 runs batted in, 31 doubles and 38 stolen bases during her three seasons for the Lady Indians.
During Leach's signing ceremony, Sequoyah Athletic Director Marcus Crittenden revealed that Leach "to the best of our knowledge, is the first Sequoyah softball player to sign to go play D-I."
While playing for the Kangaroos, Leach will join former Coweta hurler Katie Kelley on the roster. But the reason, Leach wanted to go to UMKC was because of the coach Meredith Smith Neal.
"It's not a big school and it has the major I want," Leach said.
As for the position she wants in college, Leach said she's leaving that up to the UMKC coaching staff.
"(Neal) wants me to play middle infield," Leach said. "But I will play any position she needs me [at]."
Middle East team
Coach: Darren Riddle, Hilldale
P: Hunter Jeffs, Oologah
C: Callie Barnes, Oktaha
1B: Megan Towie, Sequoyah-Tahlequah
2B: Jessica Boone, Berryhill
3B: Summer Higgins, Kansas
SS: Courtney Edmonds, Meeker
OF: Makenna McGill, Sequoyah-Claremore; Taylor Conkling, Bristow; Amanda Lee, Morris
P: Jordan Detherage, Tecumseh; Morgan Palmer, Meeker
C: Tori Danielson, Berryhill
Utility: Alissa Taylor, Henryetta; Katy Remy, Sequoyah-Claremore; Cherokee Ridge, Wagoner; Kelsey Leach, Sequoyah-Tahlequah; Alex Edinger, Oologah; Elizabeth Gresham, Mannford