Diamond 9: Caitlin Chapin led Ozark’s softball rise

Caitlin Chapin led the rise of Ozark High School softball before graduating in 2009. She is among our next Diamond 9 honorees.

Caitlin Chapin led the rise of Ozark High School softball before graduating in 2009. She is among our next Diamond 9 honorees on May 27.

All Caitlin Chapin wanted to do in fast-pitch softball was help raise the profile of the Ozark High School program. She and her teammates made it happen, as in the fall of 2007 the Lady Tigers reached the program’s first final four.

“When we first started, we were playing in shorts and playing in little tournaments,” Chapin said. “But we were better than that.”

The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame will honor Chapin for her contributions, as the 2009 Ozark High School graduate will be recognized as part of the second annual Diamond 9 on May 27 at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Springfield.

Click here for ticket details about the Diamond 9, which consists of former high school and college standouts. The group is part of the Hall’s Baseball Sports Enthusiasts Luncheon, which this year features the naming of former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa as a Missouri Sports Legend.

Before graduating from Ozark High School in 2009 and going on to play at Missouri State, Chapin set the bar high in fast-pitch softball.

In her junior season of 2007 alone, she led Ozark to a fourth-place finish in Class 4. Chapin hit 11 home runs, which tied for the fourth-highest single-season total in Missouri high school softball history.

Chapin also batted .450 with 27 home runs in her career, leading Ozark to three district titles.

Chapin was a four-time All-Ozarks Conference selection and finished her career among the state’s all-time leaders in hits (2nd), doubles (2nd), total bases (2nd), home runs (3rd), runs scored (4th), RBI (6th) and slugging percentage (7th).

Chapin credits teammates such as Caitlin Blose, Stephanie Walden, Shelby Romine and Haley Vigneux as keys to her success, as well as that of Ozarks’ success.

The program remained competitive and placed second in Class 4 in the fall of 2012.

After high school, Chapin was a four-year starter for Missouri State, where she was part of the 2011 team that won the Missouri Valley Conference.

Before graduating in 2013, she was a designated player as a freshman and catcher her sophomore season before moving to the outfield. She finished with a 1.000 fielding percentage in right field in her final season.

“I wanted Springfield, Missouri to be a place known for softball,” Chapin said. “People tend to think of (a softball mecca) being in Oklahoma. There is no reason why that can’t be here.”

Softball has been much more competitive in the Ozarks area since. Just look at her high school alma mater, which now has dedicated softball facilities such as locker rooms. Teams also wear pants, not shorts.

“If you have facilities,” Chapin said, “opportunities open up.”