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Gracie Oswald leads the way for East softball

May 15—CHEYENNE — Gracie Oswald has been so consistent at the plate during her Cheyenne East career that gaudy statistics have become commonplace.

The two-time all-state selection entered this season with a .538 career batting average, 45 extra-base hits and 105 RBI across three seasons in a Thunderbirds uniform.

It would have been unreasonable to expect Oswald to top those numbers during her senior season, yet that's exactly what she's done. Oswald is currently batting .548 (46-for-84) with 16 doubles, three triples, six home runs and 39 RBI. That includes going 5-of-6 with a double, a triple, a homer and five RBI during the T-Birds regular season-ending doubleheader sweep of Laramie.

The latter stat line earned Oswald Prep Athlete of the Week honors from WyoSports' Cheyenne staff.

"This season has been special," Oswald said. "It's finally my turn to be a senior and be the No. 1 leader on our team. It's been a different year because we have a lot of underclassmen, and I've tried to take them under my wing.

"That's been a new experience, but it's been really special."

Oswald has tried to model a positive attitude and "next pitch" mentality that stresses the importance of leaving mistakes in the past and focus on capitalizing on the next opportunity.

"I've tried to show my younger teammates that there can be positive leaders and positive motivation that pushes you to get better more than someone getting on your butt or yelling at you," Oswald said. "I'm trying to be more of a positive leader. That's been my goal."

Oswald has done just that for East, assistant coach Michael Galicia said.

"She's grown a lot as a leader the past two years both in competitive (softball) and here," the coach said. "She's producing runs and commanding the outfield as our centerfielder. That's been huge because we have freshmen and sophomores in left and right.

"Her being able to be a leader out there takes a lot of weight off the coaches' shoulders. She's been tremendous for us on and off the field."

Oswald has led both vocally and by example, showing the younger T-Birds no player is above helping set up or take down practice equipment, Galicia said.

East (21-5) started the season 12-1, but split its next four doubleheaders. The biggest downside of those splits was that the T-Birds lost the conference portion, putting them at risk of missing out on the state tournament. East is riding a six-game winning streak entering Thursday's state tournament matchup with West Conference No. 2 seed Rock Springs.

"We were focusing on our mistakes and weren't turning it around the next play," said Oswald, who has struck out just twice this season. "We've talked a lot about being a 'want to be,' which is someone who wants to be in those big moments and make the big plays defensively and get the big hits."

Oswald knows what it's like to come through during a pivotal moment.

In last year's state tournament, the T-Birds trailed Campbell County 7-3 and were down to their last strike with the bases loaded. Oswald sent an 0-2 pitch over the left field fence for a game-tying grand slam. Aleah Brooks homered five pitches later to lift East to the 8-7 walk-off win.

"I try to not make the moment too big and psych myself out," Oswald said. "I do my best to stay calm and do my thing without swinging for the fence. That was definitely a time where I did swing for the fence.

"Being calm and trusting my teammates has let me enjoy being a leader."

Oswald's teammates have taken note of her demeanor.

"She doesn't let it show went she's down in the count," sophomore McKenzie Millar said. "She can have three balls and no strikes, or have three balls and two strikes but you'll never know. She doesn't give up and gets the ball in play somehow or some way."

Others recognized for their efforts include:

n Madelyn Artery, Aleah Brooks, McKenzie Millar and Lillian Vallejo, softball, East: Artery, a sophomore, went 4-for-6 with a double and three RBI to help the Lady Thunderbirds sweep a doubleheader from Laramie.

Brooks, a junior, was 3-for-7 with a double, a home run and five RBI.

Millar, a sophomore, was 4-of-8 with three doubles and nine RBI.

Vallejo, a senior, went 5-for-7 with five RBI at the plate. She also tossed a five-inning complete game in the pitcher's circle, striking out six.

n Aryana Booth, girls soccer, East: The senior goalkeeper posted 24 saves across three matches to help the Lady Thunderbirds clinch a state tournament berth by going 1-2 at the Class 4A East Conference tournament.

n Roscoe Cone-LeBeaumont and Sammy Shumway, boys soccer, Cheyenne Central: Cone-LeBeaumont, a senior, had two goals to help the Indians win the Class 4A East Conference tournament. His second goal came as time expired during a 2-1 win over Sheridan in the championship match.

Shumway, a senior, scored three goals in the tournament.

n Maya Driver, softball, Central: The sophomore went 4-for-7 with an RBI as the Indians split a doubleheader with Laramie.

n Jessica Hoffman, girls track and field, Pine Bluffs: The junior placed second in high jump (5 feet), discus (106 feet, 10 inches) and fourth in shot put (33-0 1/2 ) at the Class 2A East Regional in Sundance.

n Tegan Krause and Sam Melchior, boys track and field, Central: Krause, a sophomore, finished second in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the Class 4A East Conference meet. He finished the 100 in 11.08 seconds and the 200 in 21.83.

Melchior, a junior, won long jump with a mark of 21 feet, 9 1/4 inches. He was runner-up in pole vault at 14-6.

n Ekena Little, girls soccer, Central: The senior defender scored two goals during the Indians' 4-3 loss to Campbell County in the first round of the Class 4A East Conference tournament.

n Maggie Madsen and Taliah Morris, girls track and field, East: Madsen, a freshman, won the 1,600-meter run and placed second in the 800 at the Class 4A East Conference meet. She finished the 1,600 in 5 minutes, 14.77 seconds and the 800 in 2:16.53.

Morris, a senior, won the 100- and 200-meter dashes, long jump and 4x100 relay. Her time of 11.81 seconds in the 100 preliminaries broke a 34-year-old East record. Her time of 24.12 in the 200 finals also snapped a 34-year-old East record.

She marked 17-8 in long jump and was joined by seniors Bradie Schlabs and Kendra Upton and junior Nadia Burdett on the winning 4x100 team.

n Ethan Norris, boys track and field, Burns: The senior was second in pole vault (12 feet, 6 inches) and the 300-meter hurdles (41.44 seconds) and fourth in the 110 hurdles (16.33) at the Class 2A East Regional in Sundance.

Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at jjohnke@wyosports.net or 307-633-3137. Follow him on X at @jjohnke.