By BOB FORREST
When the members of the East infield look around the diamond Saturday morning at the small school fast-pitch All-State game, there won’t be a stranger in sight.
Stars from the Ada area — Latta’s Keeli Kessinger at first base, Roff’s J.J. Stewart at second, Konawa’s Ciara Kuestersteffen at shortstop and Stonewall’s Bradianne Daniel at third — will comprise the entire starting infield for the East when the first pitch is thrown at 10:30 a.m. at the University of Oklahoma softball complex.
And just for good measure, Latta outfielder Kaitlin Hisaw and Sasakwa pitcher Marissa Shaffer are also part of this year’s record six-player area all-state delegation.
Kessinger earned her All-State berth despite the fact that the Lady Panthers didn’t survive their district tournament and despite missing the entire regular season last fall while recuperating from her second major knee surgery in less than a year. The starting first baseman as a freshman on Latta’s state runner-up squad in the fall of 2008, Kessinger will also be a member of the Small East team for next Saturday’s slowpitch All-State game after helping Latta to the Class 4A championship game this spring.
Stewart was also a double All-State selection after a senior year in which she played in both the fast-pitch and slowpitch state championship games. A four-year starter, she hit .360 with 26 RBIs last fall for a Roff squad that was ranked No. 1 in Class A all season and lost just once before being upset, 2-1, by Binger-Oney in the championship game.
Kuestersteffen batted .488 in her final fast-pitch season at Konawa, where she was a member of two state championship squads -- in fast-pitch and slowpitch in 2010 -- and, like Kessinger, Hisaw and Daniel, she earned All-State honors despite playing for a team that failed to reach the state tournament.
Daniel also earned All-State honors in slowpitch this spring and graduated as just the second fast-pitch All-State selection in school history. Although she played second base and shortstop late in her career, she will start at third base (where she played as a junior) Saturday after hitting .424 with three home runs, eight doubles, four triples and 36 RBIs last fall.
Hisaw, this year’s area girls Athlete of the Year, hit almost .400 last fall, and, like Kessinger, Stewart and Daniel, she earned All-State honors in both fast-pitch and slowpitch after batting leadoff for the Lady Panthers throughout her senior year.
Shaffer pitched Sasakwa to Class B state titles as a freshman and again as a sophomore in the fall of 2008 and 2009. She and the Lady Vikings returned to the state tournament again last fall but lost to Frontier in the first round.