Tahlequah Daily Press

March 1, 2013

Leach, SHS going for area gold

By BEN JOHNSON
Sports Editor

— Talk about a roller coaster ride. That has been Kelsey Leach’s life since late September.

“This is one year I will never forget,” she said.

It all started in last May when Sequoyah won the slowpitch softball championship in Oklahoma City. Then, eligibility issues surfaced up for Leach, and the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association ruled that Leach was ineligible all along and stripped the Lady Indians of their state title.

“I was devastated,” Leach said, “for not only me but my team.”

However, the gold would be returned to Sequoyah in early November when it was ruled the Leach did actually within the proper boundaries to be eligible at Sequoyah.

That was a huge relief for Leach.

“I felt really happy when we got our softball title back,” she said.

While Leach was overcome with joy that was able to play again, there was a feeling of disappointment after having to sit out during the fastpitch season.

“It was really hard on me knowing that I couldn’t get out on the field with the seniors, Kara (Linch), Jessica (Bluebird) and Susie (Davis),” Leach said. “I just came back from nationals, so it was pretty hard to watch and know I would have to sit out my junior year.”

During her time away, Sequoyah lost in the 3A fastpitch championship game. But not soon after, she was free to return to high school athletics.

“I remember the day she came and told me she was eligible,” Sequoyah girls basketball coach Larry Shade said. “I could have cried right along with her. I just remember her saying, ‘I can play,’ and I just said, ‘that’s great.’ I could tell there were a lot of emotions welled up within her.”

Since then, Leach has been a veteran leader on the Lady Indians’ basketball team.

Unfortunately for Leach, the beginning of the basketball season wasn’t the end of the craziness she’s endured during the academic year. During Sequoyah’s game at Riverside on Feb. 2, Leach tried to take a charge but ended up with a mild concussion instead, when she was run over and then hit her head on the hardwood floor.

“All I remember is setting myself up for a charge and going to an ambulance,” Leach said. “When I got home, I had to be woken up every hour and asked if I knew my name and where I was.

“I don’t remember much, but I was pretty scared after hearing the stories in the hospital. I was very lucky that it was just a mild concussion and nothing more.”

Shade remembers the incident vividly, and he said Leach was fortunate with how everything played out.

“It could have been worse than was it was,” Shade said. “She ended up sitting for a week, and then the next game she was the spark that we needed.”

Leach, again, is back in action, and Friday night her and the Class 3A No. 11 Lady Indians will go for the Area I crown against No. 2 Perkins-Tryon in Sand Springs.

Sequoyah’s game against the Demons was made possible after the Lady Indians blew out Henryetta for a regional-tournament title on Monday. Just so happens it occurred the same week that Leach celebrated her birthday.

“It is an early birthday present for me,” Leach said of the regional crown, “and I love it.”