Natalie Morgan figures to be the next member of Ozark’s 100-hit club and if she continues her pace of the past two years the junior catcher should reach that milestone late this season.
Morgan is 32 hits from 100, after banging out 38 hits as a sophomore last season and having 30 as a freshman two years ago.
As she nears triple digits, whether it’s this year or next, she’ll be mindful not to go through any sort of countdown to 100.
“I don't pay attention to any of that,” Morgan said of her individual statistics. “It adds unnecessary pressure on yourself.”
Likewise, Audrey Carlton doesn’t have her heart set on becoming a 100-hit member herself this season. The junior center fielder has 54 career hits, after collecting 37 hits her sophomore season last year and 17 her freshman season two years ago.
“I never know any of my stats,” Carlton said. “I don't know my batting average from last year.”
Apparently, coaches around the COC didn’t know Morgan’s or Carlton’s stats last year, either. They seemingly established themselves among the conference’s elite players, but had to settle for All-COC Second-Team selections, even while helping Ozark to an undefeated run through the conference.
Morgan batted .330 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs while hitting lead-off. She hit a solo home in Ozark's 2-0 Class 5 District 5 title tilt victory against Nixa.
Carlton batted .327 with six homers and 37 RBIs. Her 22 extra-base hits included a grand slam in the Lady Tigers’ 7-4 regular-season win versus defending COC champ Nixa.
Carlton and Morgan weren’t too disappointed by their First-Team snubs, given Ozark’s COC and District championships.
“I just want to perform for my team. I want to have timely hits,” Carlton said.
"I just want to show up and win,” Morgan added.
Morgan said as she and Carlton near triple digits in hits, whether it’s this year or next, they’ll be mindful not to go through any sort of countdown to 100.
“Someone is going to tell us when we get it and we're going to be like, 'Oh, OK,’” Morgan said.
Coach Jimmy Nimmo is as proud of his players’ team-first mentality as anything. That trait has been a staple of the COC's premier program over the past 15 years, as evidenced by middle-of-the-lineup hitters annually being willing to lay down a sacrifice bunt.
“That's the type of girls we have,” Nimmo said. “They're not focused on (individual stats). We have very unselfish girls who put their teammates first.”