Submitted Photos by Hollenbach Photography
MURFREESBORO — Two Murfreesboro High School Lady Rattlers have been tabbed for softball play in post-season games.
Hannah Cox, the normal starting pitcher for the Lady Rattlers in 2017, will participate in the 2017 Arkansas Activities Association’s All-Star Game on June 20 at Farris Field on the the University of Central Arkansas campus in Conway.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity,” she said, noting she was unsure at the moment if she will make an appearance as a third baseman or a pitcher in the game. “I’ll just do whatever they tell me to do,” she said with a laugh.
She adds that it is an additional honor, as from her understanding she is the first player from Murfreesboro selected to participate in the game.
As a senior for MHS, Cox collected 38 hits in 83 plate appearances for a .458 average. She amassed 19 singles, 12 doubles, 5 triples and a pair of home runs, while scoring 14 runs and driving in 38. She dominated in the clutch as a batter last season, hitting .606 with runners in scoring position.
“I just knew we had to get runs in, so I guess I had to get better [at the plate], said Cox. “I don’t really know why,” she said of here ability to get a hit in almost two out of three at-bats with runners on base.
She drew seven walks and stuck out only twice on the season, was hit by a pitch twice and stole three bases in four attempts, leaving her with a .505 on base percentage.
As a pitcher, Cox tossed 114.3 innings over 22 games with a 6.77 ERA. She had 90 strikeouts versus 66 walks, allowing 142 hits on the season.
“Our season was good, it was fun to play with my sister [Jarah Cox] — it was an enjoyable experience.”
She admits participating in the All-Star game was never a direct goal.
“I had never really thought about it during the year, but Coach [Steve] Martin kept telling me there was something that might happen, but he would never tell me what! He would just say it had something to do with softball, so I was just excited because it came as a surprise.”
Cox will look to attend the University of Central Arkansas in the fall to major in psychology, doesn’t completely rule out the possibility of playing some ball on the next level in some form or fashion.
“I loved playing for Murfreesboro surrounded by my friends and family,” she said, adding that the community “was so supportive.”
Finally, Cox said it was memorable playing for Lady Rattler Head Coach Martin.
“I have enjoyed playing for Coach Martin all these years, and I know they will do good things next year and in the future.”
Cox was highly decorated during her MHS career, including being named to the following honors: MHS newcomer of the year in ninth grade; All-District 7AA West in her sophomore, junior and senior years; the MHS golden glove award, All-State tournament team and All-State honorable mention in her sophomore year; MHS MVP and most outstanding pitcher in her junior and senior seasons; MHS co-offensive player of the year in 2017; member of the 2016 Junior Classic team at Hendrix University and the 2017 Debra McMasters Memorial Softball Scholarship recipient in 2017.
In other MHS sports she also excelled, including named to the 7-AA all-district team in cross County in her sophomore year, MHS most improved basketball player as a senior; All-American cheerleader and named to the MHS role model cheerleader award, which is chose by her peers and coaches, both as a freshman and senior; named the Camp Attitude is Everything award winner as a freshman, junior and senior.
Hannah Kuykendall appeared in the 2017 Sophomore/Junior Classic Showcase held June 12-13 at Hendrix University in Conway. The event was sponsored by the Arkansas High School Fast Pitch Association. She was expected to participate as a catcher in three games over the two days.
“It will be a good time for me — I am really excited and it is an honor,” said Kuykendall prior to the games. “I expect to get better, meet a lot of new people and have fun.”
She said an additional bonus to the game was getting in front of some college scouts.
“I will get to play in front of some college people, and earn a scholarship if I’m lucky,” said Kuykendall, who admitted to hopes of playing college softball in the future.
As a sophomore catcher for the Lady Rattlers in 2017, Kuykendall notched 34 hits in 81 at bats for a .420 average. She collected 20 singles, 12 doubles, 2 triples while driving in 20 runs on the season. She walked 10 times versus 7 strikeouts, was hit by a pitch twice and swiped 7 bases in 10 attempts, compiling a .489 on base percentage.
Steady defensively from the rigorous catching position, Kykendall collected only a single error in 2017 while collecting 125 put outs and mowing down three stolen base attempts. She allowed only 8 passed balls on the season, giving her a .993 fielding percentage overall.
Calling Kuykendall “her favorite catcher,” Cox said she loves her and will miss playing with her.
“The season was great and it was an honor to play every time,” Kuykendall said.
Kuykendall added next year will be a slight adjustment without the senior leadership of Cox.
“I will miss Hannah [Cox] a lot, it will be different next year without her.”
Cox said she would come back next year to “watch a bunch of their games — they are going to be good and I am excited for them.”
Kuykendall gave two quotes that help motivate her toward success in life and on the softball field.
“Your attitude determines your direction,” she said. “Every morning you have two choices — continue to sleep with your dreams or wake up and chase them.”
For the other quote, she expounded of life’s learning experiences, stating “failure is a bruise, not a tattoo.”
Kuykendall was sponsored on her trip by First State Bank and Stephen Turner from Farm Bureau.