Riding the wave of four consecutive state tournament appearances, two more Durant Lady Lions will further their softball careers at the next level after signing scholarship offers this week.
Shortstop Shayla Harper inked with Seminole State College while second baseman Taylor Russell signed with Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
“We are losing two great kids that have been a huge part of our program for the past four years,” Durant head coach Cody Little commented. “Both of them came in as freshmen and provided leadership since day one. They have shown everyone how things should be done the right way since they have been here and I think they are both going to be very successful at the next level.
“They are a great example of showing what it takes to be excellent at their sport. Time commitment, energy commitment and even educational commitment. They both maintain high GPAs and have set the bar high to show people what it takes to be successful and be rewarded with a college scholarship.”
Harper, who recently picked up All-State honors from the Oklahoma Fast Pitch Coaches Association, was a four-year starter at shortstop and finished her senior campaign with a .437 batting average, which included nine doubles, eight triples and four home runs along with 33 runs batted in and 24 runs scored.
She posted a salty .510 on-base percentage in addition to an .862 slugging percentage for the season.
“I’m very blessed to have the chance to further my career playing softball,” Harper said. “I’ve had great coaches pushing me and my mom pushing me since I was a child to be the best I could be so I am grateful to them. It’s mean a lot to be able to get a college scholarship.
“I am looking forward to the opportunity and the experience I will get at Seminole State.”
Russell meanwhile has been a mainstay at the second base position for the last couple of years for the Lady Lions and the backbone of the defense with her solid .979 fielding percentage as a senior.
This season she batted .421 with eight doubles and a triple as well as driving in 13 runs and scoring 23 more. She notched a .494 on-base percentage and was outstanding putting the ball in play with only three strikeouts in 92 total plate appearances.
“I’m really ecstatic and truly feeling blessed by all the support I have gotten,” Russell stated. “I’ve dreamed about playing softball in college all my life so it’s just an amazing feeling to get that opportunity. Once you play at a high level you get to play in a lot of games that are tense and that should help me a lot going into college. It’s nice to have that experience under my belt.
“Northwestern really felt at home to me. It felt like family with the close-knit community they have, plus they have a really good nursing program which is what I want to go into.”