MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

May 20, 2013

2013 ALL-PHOENIX SLOWPITCH SOFTBALL TEAM: Muskogee takes the top honors

When Hannah Hamilton hit .697 her senior year, Keith Coleman thought he had seen a mark that couldn’t get topped.

Then Shaylee Rowland came along, a better player thanks to dividends from Coleman’s off-season program, and voted the All-Phoenix  slowpitch softball Most Valuable Player for 2013.

“Best offensive season of any player I’ve coached,” the Muskogee High coach said.

Rowland set six standards for Coleman’s tenure, dating back to 2006 — a .712 batting average, 89 hits, 27 doubles, 1,643 slugging percentage, .743 on-base percentage and 61 total extra base hits, all but 28 of those she had in 125 at bats.

All primarily as a leadoff hitter.

“The extra-base hits and slugging percentage, you look at them on paper and it’s uncanny,” Coleman said.

The junior outfielder who also posted a .921 fielding percentage credited a stronger her for the success at the plate.

“Every day or at least every other day from October to February was spent in the weight room and coach pushed us hard there,” she said. “I know it made a difference with me.”

Her mother, Francie Parnell Rowland, played on Muskogee’s first state champion recognized by the OSSAA in 1983 and an assistant coach on Muskogee’s second state champion in 1998. How her daughter’s marks shape up against the total history of the program is a little like apples and oranges.

“For most of those years we played on bigger fields where home runs had to be cleared over the outfielder’s heads so they played deeper,” she said. “I know we’ve had a lot of great hitters in those years. If she’s not at the top, she’s close.”

Better than she was?

“Not quite,” she said with a laugh.

“Let’s get the stats out and compare,” Shaylee says.

So who knows.

“But she’s done great,” Francie said. “My brother James (Parnell, the Fort Gibson assistant baseball coach) has worked with her a long time too and done a wonderful job with her.”

Parnell’s daughter Kirby is playing fastpitch at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., Rowland may be lured there after next season.

“I know I want to go play somewhere out of state. I want that experience,” she said.

Someone that will give chase to Rowland’s marks is this year’s Newcomer of the Year, Dee Emarthle. The freshman outfielder hit .505 with 16 doubles, seven home runs and 44 RBIs.

“She’s one of three or four freshmen in this program, both fastpitch and slowpitch, who will be special and I think, have a lot of money thrown their way,” Coleman said. “She was an exceptional three-hole hitter.

Emarthle’s confident in her abilities.

“I want to beat (Shaylee)’s marks next year,” she said with a grin. “To win newcomer was special.”

Coleman won Coach of the Year in a three-coach race with two other state quarterfinalists — Matt Cloud at Tahlequah in 6A and Sequoyah’s Larry Shade in 5A. Two voting points separated the three men.

“Matt didn’t lose hardly at all going into state and should have had a better draw. And no one in 5A had the early schedule that Larry had with all the best 6A teams,” Coleman said. “I didn’t expect it but I’m honored and humbled.

“It’s a tribute that’s shared among an administration that's always been supportive of what we've needed and a staff I'd say has no comparison.”

Coleman’s team went 30-9 and yet, might have had the closest brush with a state title in the long run. its two-run quarterfinal loss to eventual champion Union was the closest loss the Lady Redskins had at the tournament. Three early errors built an 8-1 hole. They rallied back but lost 10-8.

Muskogee edged Tahlequah with five selections — including first baseman Paige Gann and catcher Jessi Venable. Tahlequah owned the middle infield with pitcher Erin Dillard, shortstop Randee O’Donnell and second baseman Kirsten Chase, then added outfielder Brittney Johnson. Shortstop Kelsey Leach and second baseman Kara Linch were voted in as reserves, both having the most votes of anyone not selected as a starter.

Oktaha had two selections — third baseman Taylor Pevehouse and outfielder Kelly Easterling — as did Vian with outfielder Joehanna Morris and extra hitter Jaden Bolin. Porum, which finished the year in the top 10 in 2A but was eliminated in the regionals, had the other selection, outfielder Carly Anderson.

Voting was done by the sports staff of the Muskogee Phoenix, Tahlequah sports editor Ben Johnson and participating area coaches.

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