ADA — After failing to send a single team to the 2005 fast-pitch softball state tournament in any class, south central Oklahoma had four representatives in 2006, and seniors from three of the four have been named to the All-State team chosen by the Oklahoma Coaches’ Association.

Tupelo’s Kendra Pearce, Latta’s Tosha MacCollister and Roff’s Kayla Balthrop — who all led their teams to historic trips to the state tournament — were all named to the Small East squad, along with Stonewall’s Kristie Byrd, who pitched the Lady Longhorns to within a game of their school’s first-ever state tournament bid.


The leadoff hitter on the Lady Tiger squad that finished the season 39-4 and was ranked No. 3 in Class B heading to the state tournament, Pearce was 25-2 on the mound with a gaudy 0.61 ERA, 141 strikeouts in 126 innings, 14 shutouts, six one-hitters, six no-hitters and a perfect game, and she also was a part-time shortstop.

One of the most celebrated athletes in school history, Pearce — an all-state candidate in basketball as well — hit .381, she had an on-base percentage of .565, and she drove in 35 runs in 43 games despite batting at the top of the order. She also had 29 stolen bases, 15 doubles, five triples and one home run.

“Kendra is a great kid to coach,” Tupelo coach Brian Davis said of Pearce. “She works hard, and she loves to win and loves to compete.

“She is just one of the best overall players in the area in anything she does,” he added. “She’s one of those kids you can’t replace, and Tupelo athletics is really going to miss her after she graduates.”


MacCollister, one of the state’s best defensive catchers, also hit over .300 as Latta’s clean-up hitter. She got big hits all season for the Lady Panthers, who reached the 2A state tournament for the first time ever, and she discouraged opposing baserunners with one of the state’s strongest and most accurate arms.

“I think they made a good choice,” Latta coach Jim Foster said. “I watched a lot of catchers this fall and she was as good as or better than anybody we faced.

“She stepped up and was a team leader for us all year long,” he added. “She was a big reason why we went to the state tournament. It was a good season for us. We enjoyed the success and we hope we can carry it on.”


Like Pearce and MacCollister, Balthrop solidified her position as one of the area’s best all-around athletes with an outstanding fast-pitch season as a senior. A four-year starter for the Lady Tigers, Balthrop — Roff’s shortstop and leadoff hitter — struck out just three times all season, batting .422 and posting a .541 one-base percentage.

“Kayla’s athletic ability pretty much speaks for itself, and there isn’t much on a softball field she can’t do,” Roff coach Kathy Gregson said. “The thing I’ve been most proud of her for the last year is developing into a leader.

“She’s one of those kids that all the younger kids look up to,” Gregson added. “She’s made a name for herself, and you don’t ever know if you can replace a kid like that.”


Like Pearce, Byrd had an outstanding season on the mound but was an All-State selection as a untility player. The hard-throwing right-hander compiled a 28-7 record to lead Stonewall to a school record 29 wins (in 38 games).

Byrd had *** strikeouts, 14 shutouts and seven non-hitters, and she struck out just eight times while hitting .427.

“It was awesome,” Stonewall coach Christie Jennings said of Byrd. “I’m pretty sure she’s the only fast-pitch all-stater ever from Stonewall.

“It’s a neat deal for her, and she deserves it,” Jennings added. “She’s a tremendous athlete and a hard worker. Sometimes we put everything on her shoulders, and she came through for us.”