Four local athletes were among those named to the 2018 Oklahoma High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association All-State teams released recently by the organization.
Stonewall battery mates Kai Watkins, the pitcher, and Clio Heath, the catcher, were named to the Small East Team along with infielder Sunzie Harrison of Allen.
Brian Davis of Stonewall will coach the Small East All-State team.
Byng High School senior Sydnee Fortner was named a utility player for the Middle East All-State squad.
The games are scheduled for June 8 at Oklahoma Christian University.
Alternates for the Small East All-State team included Stonewall outfielder Alexis Chamberlain and Roff middle infielder Makenzi Darnell.
Watkins and Heath have been a big part of Stonewall’s success since they earned playing time as talented freshmen.
“They are very deserving of this award,” said Davis. “As freshmen, they came into a program that was already really good and pushed their way into the lineup and never looked back.”
The duo’s outstanding resumé includes a win-loss record of 103-32, four state tournament appearances, a state runner-up and and a state semifinal appearance.
Watkins, who battled through an arm injury during her season year as Stonewall’s ace, finished her career with a 60-15 record, a 2.06 ERA with 385 strikeouts. She recorded 21 shutouts and three no-hitters.
“As the old saying goes, ‘It all starts in the circle.’ Kai Watkins has given us a chance to win from the moment she stepped into that circle,” Davis said.
Davis said many coaches have incorrectly judged Watkins before their players faced her.
“I hear the same thing all the time. ‘She doesn’t look like she’s dominating you like she does, but at the end of the game you’re scratching your head,’” he explained. “I just laugh and say ‘That’s Kai-Kai.’ The heart she showed, and the performance she gave us in the playoffs (despite the arm injury) showed a lot of heart and leadership.”
Heath has long been considered one of the most feared hitters in the state with the power she possesses at the plate. But that’s far from her only talent. In fact, Davis said she may be in a rare league of her own.
“I have been fortunate enough to coach many great players, but Clio’s name has to be in the conversation when I talk about the best I’ve ever coached,” he said. “You could tell she was going to be a special one as an eighth-grader.”
Davis said she’s one of the top backstops in the state, too.
“As a catcher, it is somewhat more difficult to control a game than to a pitcher, but Clio was able to do just that. With her behind the plate, the running game of opposing teams came to a stop. She threw out 46 of 86 runners that attempted to steal on her. That stat is somewhat misleading too because it does not take into account the ones we just didn’t care if they stole or the ones that stole on a first-and-third situation. Consider those two factors, and you can see the impact she had for us behind the plate.”
Heath was sidelined during her junior year with a torn ACL. But she bounced back nicely. During a strong senior campaign, she hit .466 with seven home runs, and 32 RBIs while showing some speed with 15 stolen bases.
Chamberlain hit .460 with three home runs, 30 RBIs and 19 stolen bases.
“Alexis had two outstanding years here at Stonewall. This year, because of her athleticism, I was able to move a first baseman to center field. That doesn’t happen very often.”
Harrison’s outstanding senior season included a blistering .531 average with one home run, six triples, a double, 31 RBIs and 30 runs scored.
She struck out just twice in 81 at-bats.
Harrison is the first fastpitch All-Stater in school history at Allen.
“Sunzie is very deserving and a prime example of hard work pays off,” said first-year Allen head coach Jeff Parnell. “She is a coachable athlete and hard worker.”
Like Harrison at Allen, Fortner became the first fastpitch All-State player from Byng.
Fortner hit .455 with one home run, four triples, eight doubles and 24 RBIs. She stole 18 bases, scored 38 runs and had a .932 fielding percentage while rotating from shortstop to the outfield.
“As her coach and father, I couldn’t be more proud for her and our softball program,” said Byng head coach Scott Fortner. “She epitomizes what an All-State athlete should be, both academically and athletically. She is very deserving of this honor.”
Scott Fortner said his All-Stater has always been more about meeting team goals rather than winning individual awards.
“Her first priority has always been the team and not herself. It’s tough to find players with that philosophy any more, and it makes this award even sweeter,” he said. “It’s a good thing Sydnee took after her mom.”