Buffalo Valley’s Laney Sparks – Athlete Spotlight Presented by Pine Cellular

By Nick Hampton

Big stats and glory are probably not in the cards for senior Laney Sparks and the softball team at Buffalo Valley this spring. But Laney is one of those athletes that plays the game, not for the glory, but for the love of the game and comradery that it offers.

Laney didn’t start playing softball until the seventh grade so she has a lot less experience than a lot of her contemporaries. But once she got started everyone was behind her.

“I got a lot of encouragement from my family and coaches along the way,” said Sparks. “I had an older cousin, McKenzie Davis who is also a softball coach that really inspired me as well. I play basketball too but I like softball a little better because it’s such a team sport and even if you mess up, your teammates have your back and that encourages me to do my best.”

Roster numbers have been somewhat of a problem at Buffalo Valley such as last year when there weren’t enough players to field a team and those that wanted to play had to play in a co-op situation with Clayton which was tough for Laney.

“Last year when I had to co-op it was definitely different and it was tough because I wasn’t playing with all my friends from school but I was still getting to play the game.”

Another passion of Laney’s is her work in FFA where she has been showing goats and lambs since she was six and it still occupies a lot of her time when she’s not on the court or the diamond.

So far this year Laney is hitting around .500 through the first handful of games and new coach Clay Conley hopes that she will emerge as a team leader for the Lady Buffalos.

“We’re still looking for someone to step up and take on the team leadership role,” said Conley. “Laney is pretty quiet but I think she could be that leader.”

Though he has a fairly young team, Conley is hopeful that they’ll be competitive by playoff time.

“We’re fairly inexperienced but I think we’ll compete better than we did in fast pitch. I’ve tried to load up our schedule with some good teams so we’re challenged throughout the season and hopefully be ready for the playoffs.”

Laney, who describes herself as a contact hitter, has a simple goal for her last hurrah on the diamond.

“I’d really like to hit just one home run before I leave,” she laughed.

Laney Sparks plans to attend Carl Albert State College and become an elementary teach after her graduation from Buffalo Valley.