Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

May 9, 2012

Tahlequah trio, coach pick up All-State honors

She could hardly believe it when the message appeared on her phone. That’s when Jessica Blalock unleashed her emotions.

“When I got the text message, I screamed really loud,” Blalock said, rehashing the moment when she found out she had been named as an All-State slowpitch softball player.

Blalock, Tahlequah’s soft-tossing pitcher during the spring months, was one of three Tahlequah players to receive All-State nods. Third baseman Whittney Whittmore and rover Jenna Reed were also selected to the Large East team, which will take on the Large West in the All-State game on June 16.

“It’s a tribute to the work that they put in and the hours they spent doing it,” said Tahlequah coach Matt Cloud, who was also named as an All-State coach.

“They were just recognized for their hard work and the work that they’ve done.”

Batting in the clean-up spot all year, Reed led Tahlequah in several offensive categories, including doubles (19), runs batted in (74) and slugging percentage (1.085). She also had a perfect mark (1.000) in the outfield on defense.

“At the beginning of the year, I told myself I was going to try my hardest to get All-State,” said Reed, a Connors State signee who also a fastpitch All-Stater in the fall. “So it makes me feel good to know that I accomplished something.”

Like Reed, Whittmore was another offensive catalyst for the Lady Tigers. Whittmore finished with team-highs in hits (79), batting average (.622), on-base percentage (.628) and an impressive 41-game hitting streak — which spanned the entire season.

Being selected as an All-State player, “just lets me know that somebody actually notices that I work hard,” said Whittmore, who tied Reed for the team lead in home runs with nine.

For Whittmore and Blalock, the exhibition game this summer will likely be the last time either slips on a softball uniform. And Whittmore admitted there very well could be some sadness at the conclusion of the All-State contests.

“I was devastated at the state tournament,” said Whittmore, whose second-ranked team lost 12-5 to No. 7 Union in the first round of the Class 6A state tournament last week in Oklahoma City. “So it’s probably going to be way worse at the end of (the All-State games).”

More so than missing each three during games, Cloud said seeing the seniors leave is like watching a family member depart.

“People don’t realize how much time coaches spend with the kids, year after year,” Cloud said. “We go from August until June with fastpitch and slowpitch ... and the players are a big part of the coach’s life. The hardest part of this deal is every year you have someone going out the door that has been a part of your life.”

Departing from Tahlequah with Reed, Whittmore and Blalock will be Shelby Sanders and Kaitlenn Rippetoe — a group that can boast six softball state tournaments (between both softball seasons) during their four years in high school.

“There are not a lot of people in the state that can say they’ve been to more,” Cloud said. “Hopefully, we can get some of our younger kids that opportunity.”

As for his coaching accolade, Cloud deferred all the credit to his players.

“I make the lineup and I’m at practice every day,” he said. “You don’t see many All-State coaches from teams that go 0-38, so a lot of it has to do with the kids. I’m thankful that they bought into what we were trying to do.”

1
Text Only
Sports
Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Press Sports Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Stocks