Lady Miners sign with Crowder

Sitting front from left, senior Shelby Chavers and Bailey Buffington signed their National Letters of Intent at Bauxite High School to play softball for the Crowder College Roughriders Wednesday afternoon. Standing from left is Bauxite softball Coach Sara Tew, Crowder assistant Samantha Juarez and Bauxite basketball Coach Joanna Scott. The Lady Miner duo, which also play basketball, signed with Crowder in Neosho, Missouri. KATRINA CHAVERS
Tony Lenahan
Staff Writer

BAUXITE — Two Bauxite Lady Miners recently signed to play softball at the next level. Seniors Shelby Chavers and Bailey Buffington both went to Neosho, Missouri, last month and signed to play for the Crowder College Roughriders. On Wednesday, the Bauxite duo shared with their friends, family and teammates at Bauxite High School.
“I am so proud of the commitment that Bailey and Shelby have shown to the game of softball,” Bauxite Head Coach Sara Tew said. “They both have put in countless hours outside of school practicing on their own.”
Chavers said that Buffington turned her on to Crowder and that she knew that was the place for her.
“I had a friend introduce me to Crowder and I went for a camp one day,” Chavers said. “I loved it. I loved the coaching staff, the players there.”
Chavers, who will play catcher at Crowder and plans to go into nursing, said her freshman season was the most memorable at Bauxite.
“It would definitely have to be freshman year,” she said. “We made it to the state finals for the first time in school history. It was pretty great.”
Last season in a 33-2 campaign, Chavers batted .337 with five doubles, two triples and a homerun, adding 38 runs and 25 RBIs, and led the team with 16 stolen bases.
Buffington, who went 31-2 in the circle, had a 1.06 ERA in 171.1 innings pitched, striking out 203 batters while walking just 15. She gave up just 99 hits for a 0.66 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched). At the plate, Buffington batted .394 with nine doubles, a triple, a homer and 29 RBIs.
Buffington said she’ll be pitching for the Roughriders.
“He (Crowder Coach John Sisemore) just pretty much said they’re needing some pitching and that he’s really looking forward to me being there because he thinks I will get some playing time my freshman year,” she said.
Buffington knows all about pitching her freshman season as she started as a freshman for the Lady Miners.
“I came in with a senior pitcher … she ended up quitting right before we started our first tournament of the year,” she said. “There was no one else that could pitch. We ended up going to the state finals that year, but lost in the finals.
“My sophomore year, we had an alright year but ended up losing out the first round. I think we were too focused on getting to the finals again and weren’t paying attention to the one game at a time.
“Last year we had a really good season. We ended up winning through until we played Bryant. We fell short to Bryant and got to the second round of state because we got a bye and ended up falling to Pottsville.”
Buffington said there is no doubt what she will miss the most when she exits Bauxite for Neosho.
“Just all my teammates,” she said. “I’m definitely going to miss that the most whenever I leave. I’ve been playing with most of the girls since I was little bitty, starting out in basketball. I played will Shelby. Me and Destiny McClain have been playing softball together since we were little bitty.
“My teammates have definitely made it the best part of all of it. Winning and losing the games, they’re just more than I could ever ask for.”
Both Chavers and Buffington will be going to a winning program as the Roughriders went 55-10 last season. That’s nothing new for the Lady Miner duo as Bauxite has gone 82-16 the last three years. Buffington, who plans to major in biology and go into the medical field, expects nothing less.
“I think we’re definitely capable of going all the way,” Buffington said. “It’s just taking it one game at a time – not getting ahead of ourselves like we’ve been doing the past few times. We’re definitely capable of it.”
“They have both been huge assets to the softball program at Bauxite,” Tew said, “and this commitment to further their careers will only increase the ability for future Lady Miners to do the same. I am honored to be the coach of two outstanding athletes, but also two outstanding people.”