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Tahlequah Multisport Athlete Paisley Qualls Battles Back from Injury – Presented by The Rustic Brush

By Byron Beers

It’s been a bounce-back year for Tahlequah’s Paisley Qualls.

Qualls, a junior multisport athlete, suffered a knee injury that forced her to sit out nearly all of fastpitch softball season and the entire basketball season in 2021.

Getting back to full strength during the summer months, Qualls became a key part of the Lady Tigers’ run to the Class 5A State Tournament in softball during October and is now providing a role off the bench for the basketball team.

She’s had to regain full confidence in her knee, following an ACL injury she suffered just two games into her sophomore softball season. “The biggest challenge coming off my knee injury is the fear of being reinjured and being on the sidelines again,” Qualls said.

Tahlequah basketball head coach David Qualls is expecting solid production from his guard. “We will be counting on her to give us some huge minutes this season,” he said. “She’s a competitor. That’s the first thing I think of when it comes to Paisley. She always plays hard and she’s going to give everything she has.”

Paisley has scored seven points through the Lady Tigers’ first two games. She is coming off a five-point performance in Tahlequah’s 67-44 win over Coweta on Dec. 2.

“I’m most excited to be playing with the group of girls I grew up with,” Paisley said. “We’ve been playing league ball together since we were old enough to walk. 

“I have huge expectations for our team this season. Overcoming adversity is a strong point for us. With the strength and talent we have I know we’re places this season.”

Paisley just wanted to be able to compete again as softball season approached in August. “The biggest moment during softball season was finally being able to play again,” she said.

The Lady Tigers went on to post a 30-10 overall record under head coach Chris Ray. They went unbeaten and captured the District 5A-4 championship before advancing to the program’s fifth straight state tournament.

“Paisley, in her return from injury, assumed several important roles for us,” Ray said. “She saw time in the outfield and at third base, depending on who was pitching that game, and also held down the DP position on a routine basis.”

Paisley hit .242, posted six sacrifice bunts and drove in eight runs. She had an on-base percentage of .335 and a fielding percentage of .909.

Former Tahlequah Sequoyah multisport standout Lexy Keys is Paisley’s biggest influence as an athlete. Keys, also a basketball player and softball player at the high school level, is now playing basketball at Oklahoma State where she’s averaging 10.4 points and 3.4 rebounds.

“As an athlete Lexy Keys has inspired me the most,” Paisley said. “The things she has accomplished academically and athletically is inspiring. She’s truly my idol.” 

Paisley is also greatly influenced by her parents. “I look up to my parents more than anyone because of their selflessness and work ethic,” she said.

Other than softball and basketball, Paisley is also a member of the National Honor Society.

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