One way or another, Cowley Community College softball coach Ed Hargrove was going to get to know freshman second baseman Haley Strawn.
Hargrove’s just glad it happened with him being her coach.
“I’d have known who she was at this point because she would’ve been making plays against us,” Hargrove said. “By the time we started recruiting her she was already looking at several other Jayhawk Conference schools … we were pretty lucky to get her.
“She’s the type of player you can build an entire team around.”
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Strawn, from Oklahoma City, has taken the Jayhawk Conference by storm in her first season. Before Friday’s doubleheader sweep of Coffeyville, Strawn was fifth in the nation with 17 home runs, leads the Tigers in runs (61), hits (83), and doubles (20). Strawn’s .516 batting average and 53 RBIs were second on the team behind fellow freshman Laura Seeman (.523, 56 RBIs).
Cowley, 39-6 overall and 23-3 in league play, is ranked No. 7 in NJCAA Division II and clinched a share of the Jayhawk East title with Highland after Friday’s sweep.
“I’m such a worrywart … I’m always worried about every little thing when it comes to (softball),” Strawn said. “I just need to tell myself to calm down most of the time and then I can usually settle in and try to set the tone for my team. I’m excited for what we can do, what we could possibly accomplish this season.”
Hargrove recruited Strawn to play outfield as a freshman and then move to shortstop as a sophomore – her two natural positions. But Cowley’s second baseman left the team right before the season and Hargrove, in his 28th season, turned to Strawn.
“She’d never played (second base) before and the crazy thing is she’s probably better than any second baseman I’ve ever coached,” Hargrove said. “She plays it like she’s been playing that position since she was 6 years old. The toughest part of playing second is learning that pivot for the double play, and she does that as good as anybody I’ve seen.”
Strawn taught herself the position by simply watching others.
“Usually, whatever teams I’ve been on I pay attention to the other positions,” Strawn said. “I’ve always liked to see how everybody else does what they do and see if I could kind of relate and pick up the things they did well. I think that’s how I caught on so well, just from watching.”
Hargrove said he’s already lining up recruits for next season with Strawn in mind as the team’s centerpiece — which includes moving her to shortstop and dropping her to third in the batting order.
“A lot of the girls we are getting are signing because of Haley, because they know they’ll get to play with her,” Hargrove said. “We feel like she’s a Division I talent and we want to put some other DI-type kids around her. Sometimes you get kids that get a little full of themselves when they put up stats like she has right off the bat, but she’s the most down-to-earth person there is. For what she does for the team, for the way she plays … that’s why we expect her to be the cornerstone next year.”