Ardmore softball focused on improvement in 2021 season and beyond
A program is always looking to take strides in the right direction. It doesn’t happen overnight though, especially when a coach is still in the process of cultivating a winning culture.
Lee Mays knows that, as the second-year skipper is focused on steady improvement in order to help the Ardmore High School softball become a dominant force in Class 5A.
“We say we don’t focus on the numbers — on the wins and losses — but we do,” Mays said. “If we won 14 games last year, we want to improve on that mark. We want to continually get better and better. If we’re going to develop and if we’re going to grow, then we have to be intentional about starting with the elementary kids.
“We’re going to have to have more camps and we’re going to have to get more people excited about learning fundamentals when the kids are younger, so that gives us a chance to be an elite team and compete with teams like Carl Albert,” Mays continued. “We are definitely looking to the future, but we’re looking to right now to be better every year at every position and play with attitude and effort.”
The Lady Tigers have the pieces to do that in 2021, with talented athletes at a number of positions, highlighted by seniors Shaunti Clayton, Brooklyn Coronado, Savannah Marris, Bo Molina and Honey Jefferson.
Clayton is a new face this season and will take over at first base. Mays expects a lot from her and the senior's hitting is starting to catch fire.
Coronado will start at second base and Mays spoke of her leadership, solid defense and an ability to get on base as a leadoff hitter.
There’s no doubt that those two will be important, but Marris will be looked to a lot as the ace in the circle.
“Savannah Marris is doing a great job of leading and developing her pitches,” Mays said. “And she’s hitting home runs. You can’t ask for anything better than that.”
Meanwhile, Molina will be quite familiar with Marris as she’ll be behind the plate at catcher.
“Bo Molina is stronger, she’s starting to really contribute offensively as well,” Mays said. “Our defense is solid, so we expect her to be the field general. We expect her to be a great leader, really help us defensively and get us in the right direction.”
Jefferson rounds out the group at third base. Mays spoke of her stepping up and being more aggressive. He also mentioned that Jefferson has a very high IQ and works hard on the field and in the classroom.
However, the seniors won’t be the only Lady Tigers who make noise.
“Overall, we’re expecting great things and I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people,” Mays said. “We start the season off on Aug. 9 at Ada. It’s kind of neat. We’re playing Ada and the football team is playing Ada. We’re excited and we know Ada is going to be a challenge.”
That game will help Ardmore know where it is at, but the important part of the schedule starts Aug. 16 with a District 5A-1 matchup with Santa Fe South. The district also features Altus, Carl Albert, Duncan, Lawton Eisenhower, Lawton MacArthur and Southeast.
The Lady Tigers won six of their 14 district contests a year ago, but they have their sights set higher in 2021.
“We’d like to be more consistent and play at a higher level and compete with teams like El Reno, Carl Albert and Lawton MacArthur,” Mays said. “We have to be consistent and be excellent if we’re going to compete in our district because a lot of those teams are tough. And you have to get those district wins early in the year instead of splitting, if you want to have a chance to finish first to third and get a good seed in the regional tournament.”