By CONOR NICHOLL
Pittsburg softball is one of Kansas’ surprises this spring. Pittsburg completed the regular season at 14-6, including 11-1 in the SEK. The Purple Dragons captured the softball league title for the second occasion in school history.
Pittsburg averaged 8.80 runs per game and permitted 4.65 a contest. The Purple Dragons finished as the sixth best record in Class 5A East. Pittsburg is in Region No. 3 with third-seeded Shawnee Heights (16-4), No. 11 De Soto (9-11) and No. 14 Lansing (8-12). Pittsburg will face De Soto at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at the Lake Shawnee Complex. The regional title game is set for 5 p.m.
Before this year, Pittsburg had posted 4-16, 9-12 and 6-11 records. Bobby Stackhouse took over Pittsburg in 2018 and coached for three years before he left for Pierce City. Pittsburg has no seniors on the roster with first-year coach Karen Curran.
She is an experienced coach, notably with a stint as Fort Scott’s head coach. Curran has also held assistant coaching positions with Pittsburg in girls’ golf, softball and archery. Karen and her husband, Steve, have been highly influential in girls’ golf over the years in the SEK area.
Pittsburg opened the season 2-2 with wins versus Riverton (8-3) and Chanute (8-0) and losses to Baxter Springs and Galena. Then, the Purple Dragons rolled through Fort Scott and Coffeyville with wins 11-0, 19-3, 14-0 and 15-5.
Pittsburg carried a 2-15 record against Fort Scott in the last 17 meetings before this season, per MaxPreps archives.
After a pair of non-league losses to Columbus, Pittsburg delivered four straight victories in league play. Pittsburg was also 0-10 against Riverton dating back to 2013.
The Purple Dragons beat Chanute, 2-0, then swept Parsons in a pair of 11-1 victories. Pittsburg split with Independence with an 11-6 victory and 9-5 loss.
Before this season, Pittsburg was 2-14 in its last 16 games versus Independence and had lost six in a row.
On May 7, Pittsburg played an out-of-league tripleheader and lost to Bonner Springs (7-3), defeated Bishop Ward (13-2) and held off Leavenworth, 5-2 in nine innings. The three games were part of the KC Turner Golden Bear Classic tournament.
On May 11, Pittsburg clinched the SEK league in the first contest of the doubleheader versus Labette County. The Purple Dragons beat LC, 11-10, and then earned a 13-7 win. In the 11-10 victory, Haley McCabe drove in two runs in the top of the seventh. Roary Hunziker collected the win.
Pittsburg was 6-14 versus Labette County in the last 20 meetings before this year.
Other key players have included Emery Kafka, Elle Slaughter, Mya Russell, Cheyanne Hunt and Kali Terry. In the second game versus Labette County, Lexi Shriver earned the victory. Terry finished 3 of 5 with a homer. Freshman ace Georgia Boekhout has also been key for Pittsburg, including in the victory versus Independence.
In the key 2-0 win versus Chanute earlier in the year, Boekhout pitched a no-hitter. Terry homered, and scored the team’s second run, per PHS reports. Boekhout also threw a complete game in the season-opening win versus Chanute. Boekhout has played travel ball for Tulsa Elite and the Advanced Fastpitch Academy.
Overall, the SEK has had some quality softball teams this spring. Independence had won three straight SEK titles before this year. Chanute is 13-7 and Independence stands at 11-8 entering regionals.
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