BELLS — Entering the final seasons of competition in their respective sports, Cheyenne Floyd and Zoe Sprayberry are seeking another appearance at state.
Floyd will be trying to win her third softball title while Sprayberry seeks a second spot among the top eight tennis players.
The preparation for those finishes has already begun but the beginning of their college careers took place as Floyd signed to play softball with Tarleton State and Sprayberry is headed to Howard Payne for tennis.
Floyd chose the Texans over the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“I just really liked the campus and the coaches’ energy. I’m so excited to get out there,” Floyd said. “Winning makes the game fun but I also picked the place I thought I could succeed academically and athletically.”
Floyd jumped right into the circle for the Lady Panthers and has helped preside over one of the greatest stretches in Texoma softball history entering her senior season later this month.
This past spring, the Lady Panthers moved up to Class 3A and still went 35-3 before being eliminated by eventual champion Emory Rains, which ended with a 34-1 record, in the 3A Region II final series. Floyd finished 21-2 with a 1.73 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 133 innings. She also hit .412 with five home runs, 15 doubles, 46 RBI, 46 runs scored as a second-team all-state selection by the Texas Sports Writers Association and the District 10-3A Most Valuable Player.
“I just know we’re really competing. I’m a firm believer you learn from your failures,” Floyd said. “We’re taking it one step a time.”
When Bells repeated as the 2A state champion during her sophomore season, Floyd was Texas Girls Coaches Association all-state, second-team all-state by the TSWA and first-team all-district by going 26-6 with a 2.44 ERA and 175 strikeouts in 180.2 innings. She carried a .404 batting average with six doubles, three triples, 26 RBI and 34 runs.
She was also named to the all-state tournament team as the Lady Panthers rallied in the seventh inning for a 9-5 victory against Normangee to defend their crown and finish 28-8.
As a freshman, Floyd was at the center of Bells capturing its first state title by knocking off two-time defending champ Shiner, 7-6, with a five-run seventh inning in the Class 2A championship game and going 32-3. She was named the MVP of the state tourney and was 22-3 with a 2.41 ERA and 160 strikeouts in 136.1 innings while hitting .521 with 19 doubles, five triples, five home runs, 57 RBI and 38 runs. Floyd was a TGCA all-state pick, a first-team all-state choice by the TSWA and selected as the District Newcomer of the Year.
“I didn’t realize freshman year how crazy that was,” Floyd said. “Going into that year we didn’t expect it. And then we did it again? That’s insane.”
She has also been the setter for the volleyball team, earning District Setter of the Year honors as a sophomore and senior, and in basketball was the District Sixth Man of the Year as a sophomore.
Tarleton State went 40-15 last season, finished at No. 22 in the country and advanced to the NCAA Division II Regional Tournament for the third straight season.
The Texans, who were No. 21 in this year’s preseason poll, have the most wins among Lone Star Conference schools over the last two seasons (90). Tarleton is making the transition to Division I next spring and will compete in the Western Athletic Conference.
Even though there will be four other pitchers on the roster, including former district opponent Jessica Withrow of Trenton, Floyd is confident she will have a role in the circle.
“I love to compete,” she said.
Sprayberry decided on Howard Payne once she got to campus.
“I knew I wanted to play college tennis. I wanted to stay in Texas,” she said. “When I went there and had a tryout, played against the girls and they offered me. I really liked it. I knew that was the right option.”
For her junior year, Bells’ move up to Class 3A made a second straight state appearance extremely hard. Sprayberry was put into one of the toughest districts in Region II — she did not advance past the District 10-3A tournament because the two region qualifiers were eventual region champ and state quarterfinalist Kenna Kelley of Leonard and the third-place region finisher, Whitewright’s Juliann Kelley. She lost to Juliann Kelley in three sets in the 10-3A semifinals.
“I knew we were going up to 3A and I had to prepare for that. It’s just made me work harder,” Sprayberry said. “I hope I can make it to state. I want to play my best and enjoy it. However far I make it, I want to know I did my best.”
Sprayberry made it to the state tournament as a sophomore in girls singles when she was the district champion and the 2A Region II runner-up to Archer City’s Breanna Howard after a 6-3, 6-3 loss.
She beat Aubrey Wiley of Hico in the quarterfinals, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-6 (4), and then won in the semifinals, 6-3, 6-1, over Seymour’s Kamryn Hrncirik to ultimately clinch the berth at state.
She lost in the state quarterfinals, 6-4, 7-6, against Olton’s Kea Sandoval.
As a freshman, Sprayberry made the quarterfinals of the Class 2A Region II tournament before losing to Howard.
Howard Payne went 2-12 last season and was 1-5 in the American Southwest Conference’s West Division. In the spring of 2018 the program went 6-14 and lost in the opening round of the ASC Tournament. It was the second straight conference tournament appearance for the program.