By CONOR NICHOLL
Frontenac senior Heather Arnett has delivered plenty of superlatives. Arnett is consensus top-15 for all classes among multi-sport girl athletes. In volleyball, Arnett started for three years and finished with 825 kills and 765 digs. Frontenac finished 99-24 in the past three falls with a state appearance. She led Frontenac in kills in 2021.
In basketball, Arnett was a SIK 3A player of the year finalist. Arnett collected unanimous first team all-league volleyball and basketball as a junior. She was second team all-league in volleyball as a senior. Arnett helped Frontenac basketball to forever four, final four and state qualifier the last three seasons. That’s the best run for Frontenac basketball since ’81-83.
However, volleyball and basketball are not Arnett’s best sports. Sandwiched around the COVID-19 cancelled 2020 season, Frontenac won state softball in ’19 and qualified last season. Arnett has earned first team all-state every season in softball.
Personality-wise, Arnett is a standout leader. Longtime Frontenac coach Cassie Rhuems noted Arnett, who came to Frontenac in seventh grade, is “the biggest cheerleader” on the softball team. Arnett frequently works with the younger players at practice.
“She is the loudest person in our dugout, plays with the most passion and heart and wants the best for every single person on our team,” Rhuems said.
Softball regionals start Monday. Arnett could add one more lofty achievement to her career: statistically the best base stealer in Kansas high school softball history.
Currently, Arnett carries a .572 average and .763 slugging percentage in her career. In just three seasons, Arnett has 143 hits, 54 RBI, 139 runs scored and 128 stolen bases. A Pittsburg State softball signing, Arnett holds a solid .910 fielding percentage in the shortstop position.
Arnett holds the Frontenac record for career steals. She is the lone starter who remains from the ’19 state title squad.
This season, Arnett carries a .454 average and .679 on-base percentage. She has 51 hits, including 40 singles, three homers and 17 RBI. She has scored 48 runs and struck out just three times. Arnett has stolen 53 bases without a caught stealing. She leads Frontenac in multiple categories, including hits, runs and steals.
“The thing that people don’t see in Heather is how much she wants her teammates to succeed,” Rhuems said. “She works with them at practice, she tries to help them become better softball players and learn how to lead.”
The Raiders are part of a deep Baxter Springs regional with Columbus (17-2), Frontenac (17-3), Girard (16-4) and Baxter Springs (12-6). Frontenac split with Columbus and Girard in CNC play. It marked the first time Columbus had defeated Frontenac in at least eight years. Freshman Avery Johnson has emerged in the circle for the Raiders.
Abi Beaman carries a .492 average, while Hattie Pyle is hitting .478. Pyle paces Frontenac with four homers and 29 RBI. Mia Brown is hitting .377 with nine extra-base hits.
Mady Loguidici is batting .423, while Annie Lee is hitting .393. Kaitlyn Hayslip has a .353 average, while Kelby Burke is at .352. Rheums has won 215 games and a pair of state titles at her alma mater.
“We will need everyone to do their part in the postseason,” Rhuems said. “Each player on our team plays an important role. We need our pitchers to throw strikes and give our defense a chance to work. Offensively, we need our big hitters to continue to be big hitters, but we need everyone to contribute. That’s what makes a team successful this late in the season.”
Arnett is one of four Raider girls who play all three sports. Notably Pyle has enjoyed across-the-board success. Arnett loves being around her teammates and friends. She is a 4.0 GPA student and a member of National Honor Society.
Arnett wants to major in early childhood education. She made her visit to Pitt State early last fall and saw a new side of PSU. Arnett had attended many Gorilla football, basketball and softball games.
“Going on that visit just opened my eyes to a whole different thing than what I was used to,” Arnett said.
As a freshman, Arnett batted .538 with 50 runs scored, 38 steals and 16 RBI. Last spring, Arnett helped Frontenac to a 19-5 record. She delivered a .530 average with 41 runs scored, 21 RBI and 52 steals, per a PSU release on April 4, 2022.
“There’s no bad chemistry on our teams,” Arnett told SIK last fall. “And I think that playing basketball in between the two seasons just really makes it enjoyable being around them, keeps you in good shape.”
If the 2020 softball season occurred, Arnett would likely be the state’s all-time leader in runs scored and steals. Both records are held by Samantha Stallbaumer, who played at Smoky Valley and Haven from 2012-15. Stallbaumer, known for her elite speed and success at Haven, delivered 170 career runs.
Emmily Hendrixson, who starred for Sterling College basketball, holds the state mark with 60 runs scored for Haven in 2018. Stallbaumer has the career state record with 144 steals. Her 66 steals in ’14 is also a state record.
Stallbaumer went onto a highly decorated college career. The 5-foot-3 Stallbaumer was a NAIA All-American and was part of two NAIA national championship teams at Oklahoma City. Then, she transferred to Washburn and earned back-to-back first team all-MIAA honors. She graduated with a .405 average, the best mark in school history, and 68 career steals.
Arnett is 13 steals away from Stallbaumer’s individual high school mark and 16 back of the career record.