By Nick Hampton
It’s probably not a coincidence that ever since junior Ava Yocham became a part of the softball program at Bristow High School, the Lady Pirates have been to the state fastpitch tournament the last two years.
A VYPE Top 100 performer at shortstop, Ava hits leadoff for the softball team while also playing basketball and running track where she participates in the 4X400 relay
and the 100 and 300m hurdles where she placed eighth at the state tournament last spring.
“I put a lot of pressure on Ava in that leadoff spot, but I think she can handle it,” said new Bristow softball coach Garrett Hannah. “She’s one of those players that you don’t really have to coach because of her experience.There’s no ceiling for her abilities and I think she’s got D-I possibilities. You don’t find players like her anymore.”
Ava’s softball journey began at a young age with the help of her mom.
“She got me started in softball by always getting me out and playing catch with me and still today is my main motivator. I started playing competitive softball when I was eight and started out pitching but eventually moved to shortstop and have loved it ever since.”
Athletic role models vary from relatives to pro athletes but for Yocham a close friend has served as a mentor.
“McKenna Ingram is my best friend and I have always admired her positive attitude and when I was a freshman, she took me under her wing and taught me a lot,” said Yocham who sports a .409 career batting average.
As a junior, Ava has already seen a lot that’s she tucked away in her mental highlight reel.
“My freshman year we won regionals for the first time in over 20 years and it kind of got the Bristow name out there. Going to the state tournament twice has been very cool.”
The lessons Ava learned from Ingram as a freshman have carried over into a leadership role on the team.
“I think I’m both a vocal and an example type of leader. if I make an error, I want to show the younger girls how to shrug it off with strong body language. I just put myself in the freshmen’s shoes because I know there’s a lot of pressure in that year
especially if you’re a starter. I always try to be positive and keep them from getting down on themselves or they’ll continue making errors.”
Although she’s still got two years ahead of her as a Lady Pirate, Ava would like to eventually play college softball and go into a career in the medical field.