One of nation’s top softball players, Cierra Harrison, ready to prove potential at Mizzou
LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. (BVM) – Cierra Harrison has quickly become one of the top high school softball players in the nation. While her four seasons of playing softball at that level are done, her career is far from over.
Next fall, Harrison will go on to the next level as she joins the Missouri Tigers. It will be a tremendous achievement for the pitcher who has had to go through some ups and downs throughout her career and life thus far.
Growing up, softball became one of Harrison’s passions. She got to play alongside her friends, be coached by her dad, and wear No. 42 – which she still does today – in honor of one of her role models, Jackie Robinson.
“I liked the grind, just everything about it,” Harrison said. “Having my teammates with me, having my back and knowing I could go to them for something, I think that was the main thing that attracted me to the sport.”
By age 12, Harrison began playing travel ball. Seeking a new challenge, she soon joined Aces Fastpitch who she still competes for today.
“I just felt like I needed to be pushed more and if I wanted to get better, I’d have to go to a different team,” Harrison said. “Right now, I play for Aces Fastpitch, and joining this team is literally the best move I ever made. They work so hard, the coaches care about you so much, especially getting into the next level. I think that I strive the most when I’m here.”
The Aces had Harrison ready for high school at Lee’s Summit North, where she was the only freshman on the school’s varsity squad in 2018. For Harrison, getting to play with many upperclassmen was a great experience.
“Playing on varsity was the best thing ever,” Harrison said. “I branched out, got to meet new people. Playing with upperclassmen, letting them teach me how to do the game and how to be on the mound as a freshman, knowing they had my back on and off the field was good. It was a great year, it really got me set up for the rest of my career at Lee’s Summit North.”
Losing early in the postseason and not being named an all-state player became motivating factors for Harrison going into the 2019 season. Losing many upperclassmen, the Broncos had a different look, but their star pitcher began shining through.
“It was extremely special,” Harrison said about the 2019 season. “Sophomore season, I came out and I don’t think I started with my best stuff at the beginning of the season. But by the end, I was hyped up. We lost a lot of seniors my freshman year, so we had to basically build a whole new team. I got comfortable and just did what I could do for the team.”
After the season, Harrison this time achieved her goal of becoming an MSHSAA Class 5A first team all-state player, boasting a 1.09 ERA. But just as things were looking up, tragedy would strike.
In 2020, Harrison’s father passed away. Her coach growing up and one of her biggest idols on and off the field, it was a devastating loss for both the pitcher and her family.
“He has been there from the start,” Harrison said. “He’s one of my biggest role models, I play for him every time I’m on the field, thinking about him. He’s another big part of why I still play the game.”
After her father’s death, Harrison took some time away from softball, and wasn’t sure she would continue to play the sport. However, if her father was here today, there’s no doubt he would want to see his daughter playing. Coming to that realization while talking with her mom, Harrison decided to return to the diamond, and continues to honor her father while doing so.
“When it first happened, I took a little bit of a break from softball,” Harrison explained. “I kind of had to talk back and forth with my mom about if I really wanted to still play the sport and stuff like that. She would always tell me, ‘If your dad was here, he would want you to just do everything. Just play the sport and do what you can.’
“It was very hard for me and my family. I also have a brother who’s a freshman now, but he took that very hard. Having my dad for as much as we did was great. We just lived out the moment, especially with Covid, no one was really going to work so we got to spend a lot of time with him before he did pass away which was really good. It was really tough, but it pushes me.”
Harrison has continued to look at the positives over the last few years, and on the diamond, she has become even more dominant. As a junior, she helped lead the Broncos all the way to the state championship game as a first team all-state performer once again, recording 15 shutouts and two perfect games. However, Lee’s Summit North would suffer an absolutely heartbreaking loss at state with Harrison in the circle.
“Going into the state game, I was super nervous,” Harrison said. “It was the top of the seventh inning, a girl hits a ball in a 0-0 game in the seventh inning, and our centerfielder trips and falls and she gets a triple. The next girl pops up, and she tags and scores. We lost 1-0, it was a great game. I tip my hat to the pitcher that threw against us, we just couldn’t get our bats going. It was a great game, I wouldn’t have wanted to lose any other way.”
While it was a good game, there is no doubt the state loss stung. Still, the 2020 Broncos were one of the best teams Harrison has had a chance to be a part of.
“Losing at state was very tough,” Harrison said. “That year, we had all the talent we could have. Every spot was filled, everybody was working at practice. Our road to state was the best thing ever. Everybody got along and we had good team chemistry.”
In her senior season last fall, Harrison dazzled yet again with a 1.04 ERA, continuing to use a dominant rise ball while reaching velocities around 60 mph. Although her team didn’t get quite as far as they had the year prior, it was still a good way to go out for the star pitcher. As the program’s all-time wins and strikeouts leader, she knows she and her class left a lasting mark on the program.
“We didn’t do what we wanted to, but I think we left a mark on Lee’s Summit North softball,” Harrison said. “I know a lot of people that haven’t even wanted to play softball or haven’t gotten into softball that want to try out for the softball team. We built the foundation of Lee’s Summit North softball, we built it up.”
Personally, one of the biggest moments for Harrison was earning her 1,000th strikeout during districts. She concluded her Broncos’ career with 1,023 strikeouts total.
“All my teammates were in the huddle and a couple of people were crying,” Harrison said about the moment of her 1,000th strikeout. “I never thought I’d get to the point of 1,000 strikeouts, it’s such a big blessing.”
Harrison’s tremendous play throughout her high school career has not gone unnoticed. She is the No. 16-ranked prospect in her class nationally according to Extra Inning Softball, and the sixth-best pitcher overall.
“I was just very surprised,” Harrison said about seeing her ranking. “Just to be ranked below the top 100 is huge and such a blessing. I honestly wasn’t expecting it but here we are. It motivates me to get better.”
The top pitcher in the state of Missouri had plenty of college options. But, like five other girls in her signing class, Harrison decided to stay home for college and play for the Mizzou Tigers.
Although she initially had some smaller offers from schools such as Wichita State, Louisiana-Monroe and South Dakota State, it came down to choosing between Missouri and Minnesota – a school she was also blown away by while visiting.
“I went to Mizzou and absolutely loved it,” Harrison said. “I chose Mizzou and it’s probably the best decision I’ll ever make. I can’t wait to be at Mizzou. I’m so excited I’m staying home and will always see my family.”
A tremendous leader throughout her career thus far, Harrison seems poised to thrive at the next level. A big reason for that is her time with the Aces, and she credits that program for getting her ready for what she will face next season.
“When I moved to the Aces, I had to work for my spot,” Harrison said. “The coaches do a phenomenal job of trying to work to get you to the next level and get you a taste of what it’s going to be like.”
After college, Harrison sees herself staying involved with softball as a coach, just like her dad was. For now, she will continue honoring his legacy, and will look to represent the entire state of Missouri in a positive light once she takes the field for the Tigers.
“My biggest goal is to work hard and strive to the top,” Harrison concluded. “Another goal would be just to represent Missouri. I’m from here and I want to represent where I’m from.”