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2019 KSHSAA State Softball Preview - Team Capsules

St. Mary's Colgan looking for 2-1A state title.
By: Conor Nicholl for Sports in Kansas w/ Chet Kuplen
May 22, 2019

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Conor Nicholl takes a look at state softball team by team as he looks into all 40 state qualifiers across five classes of Kansas.

Be on the lookout for our all-state and pitcher/player/coach of the year honorees from Sports in Kansas a week after state softball concludes. 

Special thanks to Nex-Tech Wireless, Friends University, American Implement and Kansas Turf for presenting our state coverage. 

Class 6A

No. 1 Washburn Rural (21-0) – Washburn Rural went 19-6 and took third in Class 6A in 2018. The Junior Blues defeated Olathe South, 3-2, and lost 2-0 to Free State before a 1-0 win against Olathe North in the third-place contest. A perennial power, Rural is one of six teams that returns from the 2018 6A state softball tournament. Rural has won three state titles all-time, in ’94 and ’13-14.  Washburn Rural has allowed just 1.11 runs per game, the best mark in 6A.

No. 8 Blue Valley (16-6) – Blue Valley is back in the state tournament, though was the No. 1 seed last spring when it took a 2-1 loss to No. 8 Free State in the first round. BV went 21-2 in ‘18.

No. 4 Derby (18-2) – Derby returns to the state tournament for a ninth consecutive time after a 20-3 year last spring. The Panthers are 250-104 under longtime coach Christy Weve. Derby lost in the first round of state every year from ’14-18 after a first-round state win in ’13. Derby had five new starters this year. Derby paced 6A West with 10.44 runs per contest.

No. 5 Topeka (16-3) – Topeka is one of two newcomers in this year’s field. However, Topeka is the only team that did not play in a state tournament last year as Mill Valley qualified in 5A in ’18 and 6A this spring. Topeka has averaged 10.22 runs per contest and allowed just 2.22. The Trojans are one of just five 6A teams to average at least 10 runs a contest.

No. 2 Lawrence Free State (20-2) – Free State is the defending Class 6A champions and gets a quarterfinal rematch of last spring’s title contest against Olathe Northwest. Last year, the Firebirds won a surprising state crown as the No. 8 seed, a rare No. 8 to capture a state title. It marked the Firebirds’ first state softball title in school history. Free State went 18-7 and defeated Blue Valley (2-1), Washburn Rural (2-0) and then Olathe Northwest (8-3) in the title. The Firebirds have lost to Washburn Rural and Blue Valley Northwest this year. Standout sophomore pitcher Tatum Clopton threw a perfect game in the 1-0 regional title against Haysville Campus. Clopton was Class 6A co-Most Outstanding Player at the state tournament. This year, Free State is second in 6A with just 1.59 runs allowed per game.

No. 7 Olathe Northwest (17-5) – ONW went 18-7 last spring en route to the state runner-up showing. Olathe Northwest beat Derby, 6-4, in the first round and then bested Olathe North, 2-1, in the semifinals before the championship game loss. Olathe Northwest captured the 6A state title in ’17, as well as ’08 and ’10.

No. 3 Mill Valley (20-2) – Last spring, Mill Valley was the No. 4 seed in the Class 5A state tournament and finished fourth with a 19-6 record. The Jaguars beat Goddard, 7-5, in the first round at the ’18 state tournament. Mill Valley led 6A East with 10.95 runs per game.

No. 6 Olathe North (17-5) – Olathe North finished fourth last year with an 11-1 win against Dodge City in the first round, and then lost 2-1 to Olathe Northwest in the semifinals. In the third-place contest, ON lost 1-0 to Washburn Rural. ON has lost just nine times in the last two years after 19 defeats in the two seasons prior. The Hawks have captured two state titles, in ’84 and ’89.

Class 5A

No. 1 Shawnee Heights (19-1) – Shawnee Heights has posted back-to-back Class 5A perfect seasons and split against Bishop Carroll this spring for the T-Birds’ only loss. At ’18 state, SH defeated Maize South (13-3), Mill Valley (6-3) and Bishop Carroll (11-0). In a field with multiple teams that did not qualify for state last year, SH and Carroll are the likely favorites to again meet up in the finals. Shawnee Heights has scored 12.89 runs per game and allowed just 0.89, which rank third and first, respectively, in Class 5A.

No. 8 Lansing (14-7) – Lansing took seven losses, but has played a highly challenging schedule, including games against Olathe North, Blue Valley and Free State, all 6A returning state qualifiers. The Lions defeated Olathe North, 3-0, in April. Lansing has tallied 7.05 runs a contest and permitted 3.62.

No. 4 Blue Valley Southwest (18-4) – Blue Valley Southwest was the Class 5A runner-up in 2017 and has reached state in ’14, ’16, ’17 and ’19. Seniors Maddie Redman, Peyton Renzi and Katie Reeg were selected to the Kansas All Star team. The team has five seniors and also includes Hannah Maurer and Kori Stonestreet. Redman and freshman Sophie Brickman have led the way in the circle. Renzi, Maurer and Stonestreet have been dynamic fielders this season. In 5A East, BVSW was second in runs per game (10.30).

No. 5 Maize South (18-4) – Maize South went 13-10 last spring, was the No. 8 seed and then fell, 13-3, to top-seeded and eventual state champion Shawnee Heights in the first round. Maize South will get to stay virtually at home and play in the same school district with the state tournament held at rival Maize High. Maize South owns a win against Carroll.

No. 2 Bishop Carroll (20-2) – In terms of state titles, no softball team has dominated like the Golden Eagles and Silver Lake. Both have won 13 state titles. BC has captured championships from 2011-15. Carroll rolled over rival Maize, 17-1, in four innings in the regional championship game. Kaylin Watkins hit a walk-off three-run homer to win the game by run rule. Carroll has made the state tournament all six seasons under coach Steve Harshberger. Shawnee Heights and Maize South are the only two teams to beat Carroll. Watkins carries a .515 average with a team-high nine homers. Six players hit at least .500, led by .645 from Gabby Eck and .641 from Isabel Marcotte. Carroll leads 5A by a healthy margin in offense per game (14.40) and is second in runs allowed (1.70 runs/game).

No. 7 Emporia (16-6) – Emporia has reached the state tournament for the first time in 14 years. The Spartans held off Basehor-Linwood, 6-2, in nine innings in the regional championship game. Emporia led 2-0 entering the seventh when B-L tied the game. EHS won the game in extras on a key hit from Payten Redeker. Emporia has tallied 8.43 runs per game and allowed just 5.62.

No. 3 Goddard (15-3) – Goddard has consistently qualified for the state tournament, including in 2018 when the Lions went 16-7. The Lions tallied 9.83 runs a game and permitted 2.78.

No. 6 Wichita Northwest (17-5) – Northwest again took second place to Bishop Carroll in the City League. Northwest finished second in 5A scoring offense at 13.18 runs per game. The Grizzlies lost to Derby and twice to Carroll, though all of the losses came by at least six runs.

Class 4A

No. 1 Andale-Garden Plain (21-1) – A-GP, led by outfielder Macie Eck, a Notre Dame signee, has enjoyed another dominant season. Garden Plain captured Class 2A volleyball and 2A basketball. Several GP players, most notably standout Abby Gordon, are on the softball team. Gordon was a volleyball starter and first team all-state basketball player. A-GP and Augusta are the two favorites to meet in the state title. A-GP is first in 4A West in runs per game at 10.68 and first overall in 4A with just 1.82 runs per game. Kayla Eck, Madison Grimes and Kylie Horsch are all key players. A-GP defeated Circle, 12-0, for the regional title.

No. 8 Louisburg (8-14) – Louisburg pulled an upset against No. 2 seed and rival Ottawa in a 9-7 victory in the regional, one of the several top seeds that lost.  Among the top-four seeds in the 4A East Regional, only No. 4 Eudora claimed a state berth. Louisburg was 5-12 in the regular season and needed to beat Parsons in a play-in game to reach the regional bracket. Against Ottawa, Louisburg led 3-0 before Ottawa came back and tied the game. Then, Karson Griggs hit a homer for Louisburg before Ottawa took a 7-4 advantage. However, Louisburg score five unanswered seventh-inning runs, helped by a controversial error on a ground ball on a two outs, bases loaded play. Lauren Cutshaw delivered a two-run hit. Then, the Wildcats defeated Chanute, 6-5, in the regional title and qualified for state as the No. 15 seed.

No. 4 Eudora (15-5) – Eudora averages 8.65 runs per game and permits 2.75 runs a game, which leads 4A East. Eudora opened 3-0 before a loss and then won nine straight contests. Eudora then dropped four in a row, including a pair of 2-1 losses to Lansing, and then won three straight to finish the season. Eudora beat Iola, 1-0, and 15-0 against Tonganoxie in the regionals.

No. 5 Rose Hill (16-6) – Rose Hill delivers 9.14 runs per contest and 4.73 runs a game. The Rockets had an up-and-down start with two wins to open the year and then four straight losses. However, RH has won 11 straight contests entering state, including two one-run victories. RH beat Wamego, 5-4, for the regional.

No. 2 Augusta (21-1) – Augusta has captured four state titles with crowns in 2000, ’06, and ’14-15, the latter two coming in Class 4A, Division I. The Orioles went 20-2 and returns pitcher Gracie Johnston, a Missouri State pitcher, the first Division I signing in program annals. Sophie Johnston has batted over .500 throughout the season. Augusta’s only loss was a 2-0 defeat at Andale on April 29.

No. 7 Anderson County (12-7) – Anderson County opened 0-4 with losses by scores of 6-4, 13-3, 9-1 and 13-9. However, AC then captured 10 straight victories and permitted just 27 runs in the winning streak. AC defeated Independence, 3-1, in the regional final. Independence was the No. 3 seed with just three losses entering postseason.

No. 3 Clay Center/Wakefield (19-1) – Clay Center has captured one title, a 4A crown in 1997. Sophomore pitcher Clara Edwards has led in the circle with a 16-1 record and 0.43 ERA, along with a team-best 20 RBI. Second baseman Erin Hammel and outfielder Janae Shivers are both key seniors. Clay Center has qualified for the state tournament the last three years and only has a 4-3 loss to Rock Creek. CC beat Clearwater, 4-3, in the regional title.

No. 6 Paola (16-6) – Paola is one of four teams in 4A East that scored more than 10 runs a game. Paola delivered 10.23 runs a game and 4.95 runs allowed a contest. Paola defeated KC Piper, 10-6, in the regional final.

Class 3A

No. 1 Cheney (22-1) – Cheney’s only loss came against Kingman/Norwich, 12-3, in the second half of a home doubleheader on May 6. The Cardinals have scored double-digit runs in 15 contests. Cheney defeated Chaparral, 4-2, in the regional final. Cheney has enjoyed quite the year also finishing second in state basketball 

No. 8 Frontenac (17-6) – Frontenac achieved a quality split against rival Colgan, a squad that has lost just twice this season. Junior pitcher Karma Fields has led in the circle and at the plate. She has driven in more than 50 runs and is right around the 500 mark in average, she had three homers in three regional games. Freshman shortstop Heather Arnett and senior Madison Davis have been among the key players. Davis has signed with Fort Scott Community College. Raven Warren, a sophomore, has also had a breakout year for FHS. The Raiders, led by Frontenac alum Cassie Rhuems, captured the Class 4A, Division II state title in ’16.

No. 4 Kingman/Norwich (20-3) – Kingman is the only team to beat Cheney and also split with Class 5A Great Bend. Kingman went 3-1 in one-run contests during the regular season. Kingman tallied at least 10 runs in 11 contests. Kingman defeated powerhouse Haven, 4-3, in the regional final.

No. 5 St. Marys (19-3) – St. Marys has a long tradition of softball excellence with eight state titles, though the last ones in ’08-09. SM went 13-9 last year and returned first team all-state player Josie Harrison. St. Marys won its three regional games by a combined score of 18-4, including 8-3 against Rock Creek in the final. Harrison has helped the Bears to its first regional title since ’09. She carries a .455 average and is 12-1 in the circle. Jordan Harrison is 7-1.

No. 2 Holton (19-2) – Holton was 19-6 last year and brought back a high number of returners for coach John William Deitrich, in his 12th season with the Wildcats and 29th year of coaching. The Wildcats have strong juniors, including pitcher Jewel Lutz. Holton captured its three regional games by a combined score of 33-3. Holton was fourth in Class 4A, Division II last season. Lutz is 6-0 and standout freshman Gracie Gallagher is 11-2. Sophomore catcher Grace Utz has a team-high .573 average.

No. 7 Colby (17-4) – Colby’s only four losses came in a season-opening split against TMP, two losses to 6A Garden City on April 18, and a split versus Russell on May 6. Colby has delivered double-digit runs in 14 contests. In the regionals, the Eagles defeated Southwestern Heights (14-4), Lakin/Deerfield (11-1) and Goodland (12-2).

No. 3 Beloit (17-2) – Beloit is into the state softball tournament for the first time. In regional tournament title, Beloit defeated Hoisington/Central Plains, 6-5, in eight innings on a game-winning single from Darby Odle. Breezy Schroeder scored the game-winning run. Earlier in rhe regional, Beloit beat Minneapolis, 16-1, in four innings and then bested Sylvan-Lucas/Lincoln, 9-1.

No. 6 Silver Lake (19-4) – Silver Lake remains the Class 3A state favorite under first-year coach Nick Hamilton. He replaced Mark Workman, who retired. The Eagles have won 13 state titles and have tied Bishop Carroll for the most state crowns all-time. Silver Lake captured championships from ’13-15 and last year. SL brought back nearly all of its key players, including Division I commits Daryn Lamprecht (five homers, 35 RBIs) and Lexi Cobb (.429 average) and pitcher Abby Pressgrove (18-2, 1.51 ERA). Those three combined to take home SIK Player of the Year (2) and Pitcher of the Year honors in 2018. Silver Lake went 9-1 in challenging Mid-East League play and split with 2-1A power Oskaloosa. Silver Lake captured the Osage City regional with a 5-2 win against Burlington.

Class 2-1A

No. 1 St. Mary’s-Colgan (21-2) – Colgan captured the CNC league title. Kaitlin Crossland and Olivia Brynds have led in the circle while Allie Marietta, Ashley Marietta, Sophia Piccini, Delaney Cedeno and Kate Radell have been among the key players swining it. The Panthers have won one state title, a 2-1A crown in 2010. They are led by first year head coach Annie Dellasega. The Panthers only two losses came to the hands of a split against Frontenac and a split against Riverton, both CNC softball teams with state titles in recent memory. 

Colgan heads a wide-open field that doesn’t have Udall, Chase County or defending state champion Alma-Wabaunsee. Chase County has won five state titles, including ’12-15 and ’17. Udall won two crowns in ’06 and ’11. Since Colgan won the state title in ’10, the only team to win a state crown other than Udall, Chase County and Wabaunsee is Valley Falls in ’16. Colgan beat SE-Cherokee, 13-3, in the regional final.

No. 8 Sacred Heart (13-8) – Four of Sacred Heart’s losses have come against Cheney and Clay Center, squads that have a combined two defeats and both made the state tournament. Sacred Heart was on a 1-5 stretch before winning three in a row entering state. The Knights defeated Little River (7-3), Republic County (6-1), and Ellsworth (6-3). SH qualified for state in 2017.

No. 4 Jayhawk Linn (19-2) – Jayhawk Linn split doubleheaders against Chetopa and Southeast Cherokee. Jayhawk Linn delivered an 8-7 victory against Yates Center in the regional semifinals and then beat Humboldt, 10-8, in the reginal title.

No. 5 Leon-Bluestem (15-4) – Bluestem went 20-6 last year and took third. The Lions are the only one of the final four teams back from the 2-1A state tournament as Wabaunsee, Udall and Chase County all missed the state tournament. Bluestem returned to the state tournament after graduating classification pitcher of the year Ashley Jurging. Fifth-year coach Michelle Womacks is 85-24 in her career. The Lions had never made the state tournament before 2016. Shortstop Natalie Bevan and first baseman Paige Fisher are returning senior starters. Bluestem defeated Flinthills, 15-4, in the regional final.

No. 2 Oskaloosa (21-2) – Oskaloosa is arguably the favorite in the classification and gets a rematch against Burlingame in the first round. Oskaloosa defeated Burlingame, 6-0 and 5-4, in the season opener. The Bears own a victory against Silver Lake, the defending 3A state champion, and sophomore Regan Curry paces the squad with a .657 average, along with seven homers and 35 RBIs. Senior Paige Lowe is batting .509 with five homers and 11 doubles. Sophomore Sophia Rockhold has 15 steals, and senior Megan Miller has 14 steals. Sophomore Reese Curry is hitting .443. Coach Lisa Braun’s team has a collective .431 average. The team has 22 homers and 18 triples. Three sophomores have led the pitching: Ellie Stember (8-2, 3.38 ERA), Asa Kesinger (7-0, 3.57) and Faith Lowe (3-0, 4.34). Oskaloosa has made state six of the last eight seasons and defeated ’18 titlist Alma-Wabanusee, 10-7, in the regional semifinals and beat Mission Valley, 9-7, in the regional title.

No. 7 Burlingame (12-7) – Creighton Winters, the successful boys’ basketball coach, has helped Burlingame reach the state softball tournament for the first time. Burlingame beat Northern Heights, 6-5, in eight innings for the regional championship. Virtually all of the Bearcats’ key players are freshmen and sophomores. Freshman shortstop Daelyn Winters (.415 average) and Brooke Lewis qualified for state competition in basketball and track.

No. 3 Spearville (19-2) – Junior Taige Kliesen paces the Royal Lancers with a .600 average, and sophomore Alissa Heskamp carries a .579 average. Sophomore Elle Weber hit .579. Four regulars, all non-seniors, carry at least a .500 average. The Lancers carry a .480 team average. Sophomore Stephanie Miller is 10-1 with 1.94 earned-run average, and sophomore Elle Weber is 9-1 with a 4.23 ERA. They have combined for six shutouts and a 102/35 strikeout to walk ratio.

No. 6 Hutchinson Trinity (15-7) – After a 2-3 start, Trinity captured nine straight victories. Then, the Celtics lost three in a row and four of the next five. Trinity delivered back-to-back 5-4 victories against Moundridge and Marion, the first one in nine innings.