King, who started in the program as a nondescript freshman has risen to the level of big-time performer and leader this fall with the Spartans. Heading into the final week of the regular season, she is hitting a gaudy .478 with a team-high 28 RBI and nine home runs.
“I wasn’t expecting to have this kind of season, but I was working hard over the summer and hoping to achieve my goals and like breaking the record,” she said.
King’s hopes became a reality in mid-September when she hit her 15th homer and set a new school record.
“[Breaking the school career home run record] actually means a lot to me because I can kind of leave my mark on this program, which is important to me because I love softball,” King said.
Howell Central coach Zack Sheets said it’s been “an interesting chase,” noting that King has set the career school record for home runs and tied the current single-season record.
“It’s been a lot of fun watching her,” Sheets said, “how it really hasn’t affected her as a person or as a player – dealing with all the attention she has been getting.”
King’s prowess with the bat has seen a steady and sure improvement over the past three seasons. Last fall, she hit just .247 before going to play summer ball with the Missouri Fury and returning to the Spartans this season.
“I think she ended up with maybe five home runs last year,” Sheets said. He said he thinks the key to King’s success this season is “just sticking with the work, believing in yourself and putting it all together.”
“For three years she was very close, and now this year, it’s really been fun to watch,” he said. “She’s been so consistent.”
King credits her success at the plate and her consistency in hitting the long ball to better use of her body in each at-bat.
“Some people don’t use their legs and use more of their arms,” King said. “I try to use all of my muscles and especially use the leg muscles to push the ball out there.”
College is on the horizon for King. She has offers from Central Methodist University, Culver-Stockton College and East Central Junior College.
“She’s going to have some opportunities and it’s going to be up to Claudia to decide which path she wants to take,” Sheets said. “She can definitely go make an impact somewhere.”
But for now, King’s impact is most keenly felt at home with the Spartans. With a strong work ethic and an outgoing, fun-loving personality, she has been a leader who has helped the Spartans be successful without adding any stress.
“… because of her work ethic and showing up and being positive, smiley, bubbly, that presence alone helps lighten the load for our younger girls,” Sheets said. “It totally helps the freshmen we have on the varsity level.”