Sequoyah junior Madi Joice recalls learning from her parents how to throw as soon as she could walk, so the mastery of softball began to develop early.
She didn’t play slowpitch, though, until her sophomore year.
But the Most Valuable Player in fastpitch on the Muskogee Phoenix/Tahlequah Daily Press All-Area team didn’t take long to adjust, as she garnered slowpitch MVP honors for her efforts this spring.
Much of that had to do with her work with the bat.
“It was really hard to find my groove last year,” she said. “I’ve been playing fastpitch for as long as I can remember and developed a place of comfort with knowing exactly what I was doing.”
Consider it developed for slowpitch.
She hit .649 with 36 home runs and 95 RBIs in a 25-15 season that saw Sequoyah reach the Class 5A championship game. Those were all team highs.
Making it more impressive was that those numbers came as the leadoff hitter, a spot she took hold of three games into the season.
“Her average shows her ability to get on base,” Lady Indians coach Jeff Turtle said. “What made her more productive was how the bottom of our order did a good job producing baserunners and that in turn helped her RBI numbers.”
A year ago, her .505 batting average was respectable enough in spite of her inexperience – but check these numbers out. She had just four home runs, and her RBIs totaled 42 in 33 games.
“We had five with 20 home runs, so those numbers were all up,” Turtle said.
Last year they had 49 yard shots in contrast to 186, topping Fort Gibson’s 175 in winning state last year.
Joice also found her home at first base, with a fielding average of .923. She played third last year with an average of .875.
Turtle was the pick for Coach of the Year, just as he was in fastpitch when the Lady Indians got that elusive state title in their 12th consecutive state trip.
“Our record wasn’t outstanding but the end result was pretty good,” he said. “We don’t get started until after basketball and try and get all our games in in a month and a half and end up playing a really tough schedule with a bunch of teams that were in the state tournament at some level. It took us a little while to get going, but we knew that would happen. It got better as the year went on.”
Sequoyah also had junior Ryleigh Clinton, who played both pitcher and catcher during the season, as the choice behind the plate, as well as outfielders Amiah Galcatcher, a sophomore, and senior Kaylee Smith, the latter named as one of three reserves.
Fort Gibson, which Sequoyah defeated in the quarterfinals, got senior pitcher Maddi Jo Williams and outfielders Makenzie Austin, a senior, and Hannah Thouvenel, a junior, the latter named as a reserve. The quality of outfielders, especially with the bat, left the infield without a reserve.
Outfielder Emily Sampson, a senior, was voted a starter and there as was fellow Tahlequah Tiger, first baseman Lanie Sanders. Rounding out the infield – Muskogee senior second baseman Brookelyn Gilmore, Oktaha junior shortstop Karli Ashing and Hulbert senior third baseman Katy Medlin. The other starting outfielder was Muskogee senior Phynix Coleman.
Oktaha’s Cayton Sloan, a junior, was selected as the extra hitter.
Staff of both the Phoenix and Daily Press voted on the team from nominations by coaches.