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Tahlequah’s Charlea Cochran – Softball Spotlight – Presented by Coldwell Banker Select/Beverly Jeanes

Charlea Cochran will be the heart and soul for the Tahlequah Lady Tigers in 2023.

Going into her fourth year as a starter and second year as the starting shortstop, Cochran has a number of tools in her arsenal.

She’s the spark in the lineup as the leadoff hitter. She’s the anchor of the infield at shortstop, and she’s able to cause havoc when she’s on base.

Cochran offers a lot for the Tigers, who went 30-10 and advanced to the Class 5A state fastpitch tournament under head coach Chris Ray.

Entering her final season, she wants to do more than just get to the state tournament. Last year, Tahlequah was eliminated in the first round of what was a rollercoaster extra-inning 8-6 setback to Guthrie.

“Of course, no doubt my goal for us as a team is to make it back to the state tournament and make it past the first round,” Cochran said. “I’m looking forward to starting where we left off last season. We ended on a good note as a team. We may not have won state, but the team chemistry was there. 

“I’m excited for our dugout and the hype we can bring. We only lost two players, so I have no doubt that we will all have fun and get back to work for when October comes around.”

On a personal note, Cochran wants to be part of the cream of the crop and earn All-State honors and become the District 5A-4 Player of the Year.

Cochran, who has already committed to Northeastern State University, hit .449 and had a .479 on-base percentage as a junior. She struck out just four times in 40 games, finished with 54 runs scored, 11 doubles, a pair of triples and hit one home run. Named the 5A-4 Offensive Player of the Year, she also stole 19 bases and posted a .929 fielding percentage.

“I’ve improved so much as a hitter, and not only hitting, but being able to understand what I can do. I didn’t steal a lot of bases or hit for power early in my high school career. Now I am most comfortable at the leadoff spot and being able to run on a defense and score. I’m not the fastest baserunner, but my ability to read a ball and a catcher has grown so much in a short amount of time,” she said.

Former NSU head coach Clay Davis and former RiverHawk Ryan Martin-Blankenship have had a profound impact on Cochran, who committed to the RiverHawks last January.

“For the longest time I never knew who I thought was my biggest influencer, until this past year,” Cochran said. “Coach Clay Davis deserves so much appreciation, and I’ve looked up to him for as long as I can remember. When I knew I wanted to take softball seriously he was the one that put a ball in my hand and gave me the love for the game. 

“On the other hand, I have to thank him for introducing me to another influencer of mine, Ryan Martin-Blankenship. She was a player at NSU and my hitting coach for nearly five years. Coach Davis showed me the love for the game, but Ryan helped me grow that love. Since February when I joined a new travel ball team I couldn’t be No. 5 anymore, so I decided to keep a piece of Ryan with me and become No. 18.”

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