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Jackson’s Zoe Flath to continue softball career at Missouri Baptist

Jackson softball’s senior Zoe Flath officially signed a national letter of intent with Missouri Baptist last month. Pictured in the front row from left: Ted Leigraf (Missouri Baptist head coach), Zoe Flath, Michelle Flath (mother) and Randy Flath (father). Back row: Shawn Wilding (Jackson head coach), Zach Flath (brother), Jeremy McCain (Midwest Grit head coach) and Todd Conklin (Midwest Grit assistant coach). Submitted photo

After helping the Jackson softball team record a program-record 33 wins and win its first district championship in 24 years this past fall, Indians senior Zoe Flath signed to continue her playing career at the next level.

Flath will be doing so up in St. Louis at Missouri Baptist as she is the fourth player from Jackson’s senior class that will be playing college softball next school year. The three other players who signed in her class all inked with Mineral Area College: Kaiden Weisbrod, Kam Tucker and Ella Mangels.

“It’s crazy to even think when I was five-years-old that I’m going to play college [softball] now,” Flath said. “I would’ve never thought that 10 years ago. Without my family, my friends, coaches and everyone who helped me get to where I am. I thank all of them for that. As seniors, we’ve known each other since we were little. We started playing softball together when we were young. We all understand each other.

“At first, I was looking at the schooling and what Missouri Baptist offered because I want to be a physical therapist. They have a really good program, and Miranda Ladson and Brandy Smythe are both up there right now. That kind of affected my choice a little bit, too, knowing I can go up there with people I already know.”

Last season, the Missouri Baptist Spartans finished with an overall record of 35-18-1 and finished 17-3 in American Midwest Conference regular-season play. The Spartans are currently 13-7 this spring.

“[Missouri Baptist] is a lot like high school in that they have a varsity and junior varsity,” Zoe said. “I like the fact they had that because I thought I would maybe get a chance to play more, so I don’t have to go up there and sit my first two years. I feel like I’ll get more playing time out of it versus if I had gone to a four-year with only one softball team having 30 girls and not knowing if I’ll play or not.”

Offensively in her final season with the Indians, Flath finished with a .406 batting average, while recording 41 hits, 13 doubles, 24 runs batted in and 19 runs scored. Zoe recorded at least one hit in Jackson’s final 11 games of the season and either drove in or scored one run herself in all but two of those contests.

On the rubber as one of Jackson’s starting pitchers, Zoe went undefeated with a perfect record of 7-0, striking out 36 batters and finishing with an earned run average of 2.42. When Zoe wasn’t pitching, she was playing third base for the Indians defense and finished with a 90.5 fielding percentage.

Jackson claimed the Class 5 District 1 Championship in a convincing 10-4 victory over Lindbergh in October, and had its season come to an end by only two runs to eventual state champions Francis Howell in the quarterfinals.

“It being my senior year, I wanted it to be the best season,” Flath said. “The fact that we made it that far, and it hadn’t been done in so long absolutely meant the world to me. I ended on a good note — we were district champs and our record [33-5] is crazy. Some of those [Jackson] teams in past years haven’t even been close to over 30 wins. We were one of three schools in Missouri that had more than 30 wins, and that’s just mind-blowing.”

Following the season, Zoe rightfully earned several postseason accolades, which included being named to the All-SEMO Conference, all-district and all-region teams. She also served as one of Jackson’s team captains, was named academic all-state and lastly was the recipient of the Chelsea Dye Memorial Scholarship.

Along with playing high school ball, Flath has been a member of the Midwest Grit travel softball team. During the summer, Zoe helped Grit take second place in the United States Fastpitch Association (USFA) World Series.

“I started playing tee ball just for fun and both of my parents did slow pitch softball,” Flath said. “As I grew up and tried out other sports, they didn’t make me as happy as softball does. You make these friendships that are a lifelong thing, and I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t ever start playing softball.”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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