By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Jamie Roberts is like an expectant mother around the Northern Oklahoma College Enid athletic offices.
She can’t wait for her “due date’’ in August when players for the Lady Jets’ first-ever softball team arrive on campus.
Roberts, hired last winter from Purcell High School, is spending her time teaching summer school, recruiting and taking bids for equipment.
“We’ll be ready when the girls get here,’’ Roberts said. “We’re about where we want to be right now.’’
Roberts hit the road recruiting from the time she was hired. She signed 22 players, 12 who were all-staters and eight who played on a state championship team at one point.
More than 100 players attended the three tryouts she held.
“I was able to use my connections and networking to find the best players who were available,’’ Roberts said. “I think that we were a new program was appealing to most of them.’’
Having an indoor facility and a strong academic reputation were two of Roberts’ strong selling points. Not having a field on campus did not hurt recruiting, she said.
“I think they’re excited about being the first softball players on campus,’’ Roberts said. “We’ll probably have a lack of leadership early because we’re still getting to know each other. They are new to me and I’ll be new to them. We’ll get to know each other in the fall and we’ll be ready by February.’’
The Lady Jets will practice at Government Springs during the fall and will play at Pacer Field at Meadowlake Park during the spring.
Her first team will have two sophomores — Enid’s Kaleena Castor and outfielder Aliyah Seebok, a transfer from Southern Nazarene.
Castor played at Neosho, Mo., in 2012. She returned home to attend NOC Enid where she was virtually recruited out of assistant baseball coach Scott Mansfield’s bowling class.
“He told her about the tryout and she looked great,’’ Roberts said. “I know she’s been working out. She won’t be too far from where she needs to be. I look for her to be the mom of the team. She brings a lot of leadership and athleticism.’’
Red Oak’s Kendra Coleman, who led her team to the Class B state championship, heads a pitching staff that includes fellow All-Staters Taylor Eaves of Panama, Summer Leitka of Norman and Selika Shives of Binger-Oney. Eaves drove four hours to pitch to Roberts at 9 p.m. on a Friday night and then drove back.
“We’ll be strong in the circle,’’ Roberts said. “Kendra is a top recruit. She was getting offers from everyone in the conference. She can swing the stick.’’
Other All-Staters who signed include Hammon catcher Kori Barrios, Roberts’ first commitment; Fort Cobb-Broxton infielder Danielle Hammons, Leedey infielder Sydney Harrel, Bristow outfielder Audri Hooks, Morris outfielder Bailey King, Tecumseh catcher Shyanna Sigman and Marlow outfielder Avery Walker.
Other new recruits are Byng outfielder Jacey Huckeby, Piedmont outfielder Savanah Leckie, Lone Grove infielder Alexis Lewis, Leedey outfielder Macy Perkins, Perkins-Tryon infielder Lacey Shipp, Kellyville outfielder Joslynn Swan, Byng infielder Breana Warner and Moore catcher Jazmine White.
Garber’s Megan Terry will be walking on.
Roberts is allowed to have up to 24 players on some kind of scholarship.
Roberts said she was happy all the recruits were in-state.
“We’re Oklahoma strong,’’ she said.
Roberts has enjoyed recruiting. She attended the signing of all of her recruits. Roberts has gone to tournaments in Chickasha and Broken Arrow this summer and hosted the Midwest Regional All-Star Challenge last week which drew 77 players across the country.
“It’s exciting,’’ she said. “I played against a lot of these girls at Purcell. I had a few of my coaching buddies helping me. I think I was able to sell them on my success (30-10 last season, losing to Tuttle in first round of state tournament). We plan to win from the beginning and try to make it to nationals.’’
She said the key to recruiting is “finding the diamonds in the rough.’’
“We have a few diamonds that nobody knows about,’’ Roberts said. “I got lucky. If I hadn’t had the relationships that I had, I wouldn’t know about them either.’’
She got advice from NOC Tonkawa’s Kari Linsenmeyer and East Central’s Destiny Anderson about recruiting.
She used the spring and summer semesters to get acquainted with the administration and other academic support groups.
Roberts feels good that NOC Enid men’s basketball coach Brad Shamburg, women’s basketball coach Scott Morris and baseball coach and athletic director Raydon Leaton have been with the school from day 1.
“I pick their brains,’’ Roberts said. “They have had a lot of success. I know I need to come in and compete. I want to be up there with the rest of them.’’
Roberts wants a strong bond with the community. She is planning to host a free camp this winter with her players as instructors.
“Teaching makes you a better player,’’ Roberts said. “It lets everyone know we have softball at NOC Enid and come watch us play.’’
Roberts has a local connection in the Rev. Alan Seibel, whose daughter Ali played for Roberts in travel ball for three years.
“We’re really close,’’ she said. “He said ‘hey did you hear NOC Enid is starting softball. You have to get up here.’ The next thing I know I’m here.’’
Harold Murphy, her old travel coach and assistant at Purcell, will assist her with the Lady Jets.
Roberts will let her team decide on the design of new uniforms. The fall schedule includes games with Oklahoma State, Oklahoma Christian, Southeastern and Oklahoma Baptist.
“It will be good for us to play the top level programs,’’ Roberts said. “It will show us where we’re at and it will be good for recruiting once these kids leave NOC Enid.’’