Central Arkansas coaches originally told Jessie Hoover that she might not make the cut to play softball for the Sugar Bears. Platte County’s senior shortstop just continued to play and eventually won the staff over.
“They came and they continued to watch me, and I continued to work,” Hoover said. “And they said, ‘I can see that you’ve really improved,’ and they said they saw a potential spot for me.
“It was a really cool opportunity.”
Hoover celebrated her signing with Division I Central Arkansas during a joint ceremony with five other Platte County senior athletes Nov. 19. Pirates left fielder Courtney Seymour joined her in front of the assembled crowd, making her commitment to North Central Missouri College — a junior college in Trenton, Mo.
The duo helped Platte County to a 25-7 record this past season and a berth in the Class 3 state championship game, which ended in a 3-0 loss to DeSoto. The Pirates made their fourth trip to the Missouri State Softball Championships in program history after dropping back down from Class 4 and for the first time since making three straight trips to the final four from 2007 to 2009.
“It’s all starting to reflect,” Hoover said. “I’ve played softball since I was, you know, four. I started off with T-ball and it’s been something that’s been a part of my life for so long. It’s really great to see the accomplishments, how far I’ve grown and how far this program has grown.”
A four-year starter, Hoover joins a Central Arkansas program that recently completed the transition from Division II to Division I and plays in the Southland Conference. The Sugar Bears went 25-34 last season, 13-13 in league play.
Hoover played shortstop each of the past two seasons for the Pirates and recorded team-highs with a .423 batting average, .446 on-base percentage, .567 slugging percentage, 44 hits, 35 runs, 14 stolen bases and nine doubles. She earned first team all-Suburban League Blue Division, all-District 16 and all-Region 4 honors in addition to a second team Missouri High School Fastpitch Coaches Association all-state selection.
A two-year starter in left field, Seymour hit .283 this season and didn’t make an error in 30 chances.
In addition to a pair of softball signees, four Platte County volleyball players were honored for their commitments — a total brought up when Maren Mair committed to Johnson County (Kan.) Community College on the eve of the ceremony.
Teryn Scott, Mickey Trimble and Melissa Ditter also showed off their signings from a record-breaking group of seniors.
The quartet helped Platte County finish 33-3-2 — a single-season program record for win — after reaching the Class 4 quarterfinals in the Pirates’ second straight playoff appearance. Platte County previously made two other appearances in the quarterfinals but not since moving up to Missouri’s largest classification.
“I was really excited to sign with them,” Mair said, adding that she chose JCCC for a chance to play a lot for a winning program with hopes of moving up to a four-year school to continue her volleyball career.
Mair led Platte County in kills for a second straight season, recording 203 to go with a team-high 107 blocks on the way to second team Missouri High School Volleyball Coaches Association all-state accolades.
Scott goes on to Cowley County Community College in Arkansas City, Kan. after recording a team-high 223 digs this past season as a libero. She also accrued a team-high 22 aces and ranked second in service points at 168.
Trimble topped her with 171 service points, and she advances on to play at Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College. She also ranked second for Platte County in assists with 239.
Unlike her three teammates, Ditter did not choose a Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference school. She will play for Briar Cliff University — an NAIA program in Sioux City, Iowa. She ranked third for Platte County in service points at 149 and added 136 kills — second to Mair.