McALESTER — McAlester High School for the past several years has had one coach run both its varsity softball and baseball teams. That’s a rarity in Class 5A, and most of McAlester’s biggest rivals — including Carl Albert, Durant, Bishop Kelley, Pryor, Tulsa-Memorial and Claremore — have separate coaches for each sport.
Justin Bond ran Lady Buffs softball last fall and Buffs baseball this spring. But once the spring season ended, according to McAlester athletic director John Homer, Bond said he wanted to focus on baseball year-round.
That opened the door for Kelleya Cox to become the Lady Buffs’ new head softball coach.
“He (Bond) concentrates during the summer with the baseball kids, and Coach Cox is down there with softball, so it’s going to be a good deal,” Homer said Thursday. “We’re excited about it.”
Cox comes to McAlester with 15 years of coaching experience. She was the head coach at Dale from 1998-2003, then coached for 10 years at Checotah, leaving after the 2012 season to spend more time with her family.
“A year was all I could stand,” Cox said Wednesday. “It’s in my blood. I came from a long line of coaches.”
Dale’s transformation into a top 2A softball program began during Cox’s tenure. That culminated in a state championship in 2003 right after she’d left, but the Lady Pirates had already been to several state tournaments with Cox before they won it all.
At Checotah, Cox led the Lady Wildcats to the 2007 state tournament. That 2007 team, she said, was also the academic state champion.
“Grades are my biggest deal,” Cox said.
“We’re here to get an education.”
Cox ran her first McAlester softball practice June 13, and the Lady Buffs will practice three times a week for the rest of the month. The team plans to compete in a summer league at the Pittsburg County Softball Complex in McAlester in July, just as they did last year.