By CONOR NICHOLL
Sports In Kansas has extensive coverage of softball throughout the spring. Each state qualifying team is noted below, plus the key question/storyline for each state bracket. Two of the five defending champions, 5A Valley Center and 4A Eudora, are in the field. Class 6A Olathe Northwest and 2-1A McLouth are the lone undefeated squads. More than 10 Division commits will be at state softball. All quarterfinals Thursday with semifinals and finals Friday.
Big Question: Five Sunflower League teams are in the field. Olathe Northwest, which won the SL, has three walk-off wins and multiple close victories. Can Northwest become the second 6A undefeated team since 2010? Washburn Rural vs. Shawnee Mission Northwest possibly Kansas’ best two pitchers with WR’s Emmerson Cope and SMN’s Kelsey Hoekstra.
University of Kansas
1.Olathe Northwest (22-0) – Northwest will face Lawrence Free State in a rematch of the season-opening contest. Northwest and 2-1A McLouth are the lone undefeated teams in Kansas. However, Northwest lost the contest to Free State, but won by a 7-0 forfeit. Free State won the on-field result, 9-6. Since then, Northwest has put together a remarkable season with three walk-off victories, including against state qualifying teams Spring Hill and Shawnee Mission North.
Olathe Northwest went 13-9 each of the last two seasons, including a 1-3 mark in one-run games during an injury-plagued year in 2022. The Ravens, led by coach Shawn Lopez, a longtime K.C. area baseball/travel softball coach, won the Sunflower League.
The SL is considered the state’s best conference – five of the eight 6A state qualifying teams are all from the Sunflower League. Several of ONW’s top softball players are excellent track athletes, including Kendall Yarnell and Val Galligan, in the top-10 for all classes in the throws. Yarnell is a Central Florida commit and the reigning Sunflower League player of the year. Yarnell hit 13 homers in the regular season and holds ONW’s career home run record.
Claire Lopez has the school’s single season steals mark. She is going to Butler County CC. Madison Fabia, the leadoff hitter, has signed with Emporia State. Northwest is the only team to beat Olathe West. They also have wins against Shawnee Mission North and Olathe North. Sophomore catcher Lily Winright set a school mark for putouts. Entering the postseason, Winright tied the school mark for single season doubles. Northwest has won three all-time titles, in ’09, ’11 and ’17. Bre Severino (Division I Ball State commit), Anna Stesia Ballew and Lilly Fisher are the three arms.
Galligan is seeded third in the 6A shot put, Yarnell ninth. Yarnell is seeded first in the discus, Galligan is fourth. Galligan is by far seeded first in the javelin with a throw of 153-1, easily a school record. They will look to win titles in multiple spring sports this weekend.
8. Lawrence Free State (10-12) – Free State won state titles in ’18 and ’19 and took fourth in 2021. Free State has its rematch against Olathe Northwest from the season opener. Outside of the forfeit loss to Olathe Northwest, Free State was a collective 0-5 against Shawnee Mission North, Olathe West, and Olathe North and Washburn Rural. Free State made the long trip out west and won, 5-2 in extra innings, at Garden City to advance to state. Entering the regional final, Garden City was 17-1 since the season opener. Cydnee Price hit a three-run homer in extra innings.
4. Topeka-Washburn Rural (19-3) – This quarterfinal showing has arguably the state’s top-two pitchers (and certainly two of Kansas top-five for all classes) with WR’s Emmerson Cope and SMN’s Kelsey Hoekstra. Cope has committed to Nebraska softball. Cope and Hoekstra were both top-nine all-classes for SIK in 2022. Cope was the SIK 6A pitcher of the year. She also broke Rural’s all-time home run record. Rural went 23-2 and was the state runner-up to Topeka High last season. Coach Liz Stover has already announced her resignation for a position in the Shawnee Mission South school district, and WR has already hired a new coach for next season. Rural lost in the first round to Olathe North in the ’21 state tournament. The Junior Blues have three all-time titles, in ’95, ’08 and ’14. Joy Marie Galliart will take over the program after this season.
5. Shawnee Mission North (18-4) – Wichita Northwest defeated Shawnee Mission North, 1-0, in the state quarterfinals last season. The Bison have junior Kelsey Hoekstra, a high-level Division I recruit. Hoekstra has cleared 600 career strikeouts in her career and 250 Ks this season. She has three perfect games and an ERA under 1.00 this spring. Hoekstra carried a .600 average with 17 extra-base hits into the postseason. North won titles in ’91 and ’92.
2. Olathe West (21-1) – West enters state on an 18-game winning streak after a 16-12 defeat to Olathe Northwest on April 4. West beat Olathe North, 2-1. The two will face again at state. West finished 17-5 last spring and lost to Blue Valley in the regional. West has six seniors. Madison Walker is heading to Mizzou softball, and Madison Grant is going to South Florida softball. Ally Miller has signed with Emporia State softball. Rori Hornung is going to Park University softball. Emma Veach is a Central Arkansas softball commit. Plus, Brevyn Kellepouris, a sophomore, has delivered a big year, including a one-hit shutout against Gardner-Edgerton in the regional title game.
7. Olathe North (17-5) – This marks the sixth straight year North has qualified for state softball. North has won two all-time titles, in 1984 and ’89. North lost to eventual champion Topeka in the first round of state last season. ON was the state runner-up to Topeka in ’21. North was a final four team in ’19 and ’18. North lost in the first round in ’17. North is third in 6A East with 9.45 runs per game, second to Olathe Northwest’s 11.24 and Olathe West’s 10.68. In the 13-3 regional final win against Blue Valley, lone senior Rilee Irby finished with five hits, including four singles.
3. Derby (21-1) – Derby held off two-time defending state champion, Topeka, 8-6, in the regional final. Derby’s lone loss came in a split against Maize South. The Panthers won the AVCTL Division I title. Catcher Trinity Kuntz drove in four runs in the regional final. Kuntz has committed to West Texas A&M softball. She has caught all the strikeouts from Addy Canfield, who cleared 100 this spring and 200 in her career. Canfield has committed to junior college powerhouse McLennan. Derby finished third last season under longtime coach Christy Weve.
6. Manhattan (17-5) – Manhattan went 15-7 and lost to Derby in the regional final last season. The Indians hosted regional for the first time in 19 years and advanced to state for the first time since 2003, per the Manhattan Mercury. Manhattan has six seniors: Carley Pearsall, Callie Carson, Kierra Goos, Alice Burges, Takara Kolterman, and Avery Hafliger. Manhattan delivered a milestone win April 28 against rival Washburn Rural. Hafliger hit a home run, and Goos delivered a three-run walk-off homer against WR. Manhattan had not defeated Rural since 2011. Goos has committed to South Dakota State softball. In the regional, Manhattan defeated Liberal (6-0) and Wichita Northwest (9-7).
Big Question: Valley Center edged Basehor-Linwood in the title last season and have been 1 and 1A all year in 5A. This year, they have a possible matchup in the semifinals. Can Eisenhower, with its great battery, reach a first-ever title game?
At Wichita State University
1.Bishop Carroll (21-1) – Carroll has won 14 all-time state titles and is generally considered Kansas’ all-time greatest softball program. BC went 23-0 and won state in 2021. Before then, the Golden Eagles won every state title from ’11 to ’15. BC has won 11 in a row after its 137-game City League winning streak ended with a 13-5 loss to Wichita Northwest on April 20. Kory Schoenfeld has a .674 average, while Kiersten Jones has a .614 average. Schoenfeld leads with 12 steals. Isabella Pfannenstiel has posted a 0.98 earned-run average. BC has outscored teams, 266-34. Carroll led all 5A with 12.1 runs per game and 1.6 runs allowed a contest.
8. Shawnee Heights (15-7) – Shawnee Heights has won three state titles, all from ’17-19. The T-Birds finished 13-9 and lost to KC Piper in the regional championship last year. Heights is second in 5A East with 9.27 runs per game. Heights has won four in a row, including a 4-3 win against St. James Academy in the regional final. Heights has won four straight, including a pair of one-run victories. Gracie Proctor is the team’s top pitcher.
4. Goddard-Eisenhower (17-5) – Karlee Ford is in the top of the conversation for the state’s top catcher with a .471 average, .525 on-base percentage, seven homers, 12 stolen bases, 33 runs scored and 33 hits. A junior, Ford has committed to national junior college powerhouse McLennan. Pitcher Audry Rumsey has a .435 average, a team-high eight homers, and an Eisenhower-best 1.87 earned-run average. Rumsey is 7-2 in 75 innings. Sophomore Karli George has been a quality second arm. Eisenhower took third in 5A last season. Rumsey head committed to Delta State softball. Rumsey tied the EHS single season home run record. Eisenhower has qualified for state five times with a pair of third-place finishes, in ’21 and ’22. Eisenhower also won league in ’21 and ’23.
5. Spring Hill (17-5) – Spring Hill lost to eventual champion Valley Center, 5-2, in the state quarterfinal last season. Delaney Hill has a .444 average, while Halle McFarland has a .607 on-base percentage. Mya January has five homers. Brielle Dee has a 2.98 earned-run average. January has committed to Central Arkansas. Spring Hill has averaged 9.1 runs per game and allowed four runs a contest. Brilee Dee, Kaylyn Gilliland and Jayden Kistner combined for two shutouts at regionals. Spring Hill beat Highland Park, 17-0, and Topeka Seaman, 2-0.
2. Basehor-Linwood (20-2) – Basehor-Linwood is the back-to-back 5A state runner-up. The Bobcats won the United Kansas Conference. B-L lost an early season doubleheader to Silver Lake, which ranked No. 1 in 3A most of the year. B-L finished three wins ahead of the pack in 5A East. The Bobcats finished second in 5A with 1.91 runs per game. Taylor Cruse, considered the greatest female athlete in B-L history, is the reigning 5A pitcher of the year. She is headed to Ohio State softball. Mila Seaton is going to Wichita State softball. B-L has one all-time title, the 4A crown in 2010. Coach Susan Mayberry is a legendary coach in the Kansas City area. She has coached at B-L since 1998 and coached in the Kansas City area for 35 years. B-L defeated K.C. Turner (5-1) and St. Thomas Aquinas (3-1) in the regional.
7. Salina South (15-7) – Araceli Rivas cleared 200 strikeouts this season and threw a no-hitter against Kapaun Mt. Carmel. South has eight seniors. South was around .500 last season and lost to Bishop Carroll in the regional. South has scored 5.6 runs a game and allowed 3.7 a game. On May 5, Rivas struck out 17, while Emily Anderson had a diving catch to save the no-hitter in a 7-0 win against Junction City.
3. Valley Center (20-2) – Valley Center is the defending state champion. VC split doubleheaders to Maize South and Goddard-Eisenhower. Valley Center came back with a 9-1 regional championship against Maize South. VC had a 30-game winning streak end with an April 18 loss to Maize South, which was the longest current winning streak in Kansas. VC has eight college signings for longtime coach Corey Jones. Infielder Lucy Hooper is the reigning 5A player of the year and has committed to Minnesota. Sykora Smith has signed with Northern Iowa. Infielder Maci George is going to North Texas. VC has won league nine times, most recently in ’17, ’22 and ’23. Kennedy Johnson is headed to Hutchinson CC softball, and Korah Nash to University of Findlay.
6. Pittsburg (16-6) – Pittsburg is at state for the first time since 2002. SIK has a big feature on Pittsburg’s turnaround here. Coach AJ Terry has led a substantial turnaround, including three straight SEK championships.
Big Question: No doubt, loaded Wamego is the heavy favorite, especially after edging Miege in the regional title. Four of the eight qualifying teams were non-regional hosts. Eudora is the defending state champion and is definitely a darkhorse with ace Samantha Claire.
1.Wamego (17-1) – Wamego and Rock Creek have another rematch in the state quarterfinals. The teams are located seven miles apart. Wamego won 16-0 and 15-7 on March 31. Wamego also earned an 8-3 win at state last season. Overall, Wamego has won 12 straight in the series.
Wamego won state softball in 2021 and third last season after a semifinal loss to Bishop Miege. Wamego won a wild regional final against Miege, its all-sports postseason rival the last several years. Wamego trailed 1-0 entering the bottom of the fifth. The game was tied 1-1 when second baseman Emma Erickson hit a drive to the left-center gap on an 0-2 count. The Miege outfielder couldn’t make the catch and ran into the short, orange fence. The ball popped up and went over the fence for a 3-run homer. It marked Erickson’s first homer of her career.
Wamego has its three Division I talents/standouts with shortstop Ashten Pierson (Creighton) and pitchers/third baseman Peyton Hardenburger and Maya Gallagher (Holy Cross). Hardenburger, a sophomore, is the reigning 4A pitcher of the year and on the short list for Kansas’ best player. Hardenburger has a .630 average, while Pierson stands at .560 and Gallagher with a .429 mark. Gallagher has four homers, Pierson seven steals. Pierson has not made a single error in the field. Hardenburger worked seven innings, allowing seven hits and two runs with 12 strikeouts and a walk in the regional title game. Those are the only two earned runs she has allowed this season. Wamego has used two catchers. Center fielder Trista Hoobler has signed with Division II Fort Lewis basketball.
8. Rock Creek (11-11) – Rock Creek has lost in the first round of state in the last two seasons. RC, which plays in the challenging Mid-East League, was the No. 12 seed in 4A East. The Mustangs beat No. 5 Holton (12-6) and at No. 4 seed Ottawa (16-9).
4. Eudora (15-5) – Eudora won 4A softball last season behind Kira Baker, the 4A Pitcher of the Year. Baker has enjoyed a huge freshman season for 47-10 Baker University and helped the Wildcats advance to the NAIA World Series. She is 24-1 with a 0.59 earned-run average. Eudora has done a great job with retooling after three of its four first team all-league players graduated. Jaiden Burris drove in the winning run in a 1-0 nine-inning win against Topeka Hayden in the regional semifinal. Sophomore Samantha Claire pitched a no-hitter in the 1-0 victory.
In the regional championship, Eudora beat Labette County, 10-8. Eudora and Garden Plain is a rematch from the 2021 state tournament that Andale won 7-2. Claire, the 5-foot-11 sophomore right-hander is ranked No. 50 nationally by Extra Innings, a recruiting leader. She consistently hits 60-63 miles per hour. In the two regional games, Claire worked 16 innings, threw 245 pitches, struck out 23 and allowed four earned runs. Earlier this season, she struck out 18 in another no-hitter. Rylee Griffin is another key hurler, too. Sophomore Reese Pattison is a returning first team all-state catcher.
5.Andale/Garden Plain (15-7) – Andale/Garden Plain lost a pair to league foe Rose Hill during the regular season, though won 3-1 in the regional championship. A/GP is ranked third in 4A West with 9.5 runs per game. A/GP lost 7-2 and 9-7 to Rose Hill on April 13. The Indians have won five of its last six, including a sweep against Mulvane on May 4 and a split with McPherson on May 8. In the regional title, Andale and Rose Hill were tied entering the seventh inning when right fielder Hayden Grimes, the No. 9 hitter, singled in two runs on a 1-0 count. Camryn Hiner worked seven innings with five strikeouts.
2. McPherson (19-3) – McPherson rolled in its two regional games by a combined score of 16-0. Haely Hagemann, Addison Chapman, and Karter Alvord are among the key players. Chapman and Addie Herrera are the key pitchers. McPherson won AVCTL Division III. All three of McPherson’s losses came against state qualifying teams: 6A Manhattan, 6A Derby and 4A Andale-Garden Plain. Chloe Clevenger, who is headed to Johnson County CC basketball, enjoyed a remarkable senior year with state qualification in four sports: cross country, basketball, softball and track. She is a multi-time all-state pick in cross country, basketball and track. Clevenger went to Doniphan West her first two years and also played baseball for DW. Last year, McPherson went 18-4, though lost in the final to Rock Creek. Reanna Eilrich hit a grand slam in the regional for coach Danica Fitzmorris.
7. Fort Scott (13-8) – Fort Scott pulled a pair of mild upsets in the East Regional. FS beat Independence (5-0) and Iola (6-4). Iola had knocked off No. 2 seed Atchison/Maur Hill.
3. Mulvane (17-5) – Mulvane and Clearwater rematch from April 17. Mulvane won those two games, 9-0 and 8-1. Mulvane captured its two regional games by a combined score of 12-0. The Wildcats have enjoyed its massive turnaround. Mulvane ended a 27-game losing streak to start the 2021 season. The Wildcats bumped to 12 wins last season and have a highly experienced team with coach Jesse Kollmeyer. Mulvane is at state for the first time in eight years. Jalin Lavers, a Johnson County CC product, has a .440 average, along with an 11-2 mark and 2.43 ERA in the circle. Madison Phipps, a highly athletic catcher, is at .413 with 169 putouts, the most by a Mulvane player in at least 13 seasons. Regan Witt (.389 average), India Downs (.375) and Addison Mackey (.338) have all performed at a high level. Mulvane has a split against Augusta and two losses apiece to McPherson and Andale.
6. Clearwater (14-8) – Clearwater defeated Pratt, ranked No. 2 in 4A West, by a 14-3 margin in the regional championship. Kaylee Hampton and Elizabeth Tjaden both homered in the regional. Clearwater has five seniors. Both Hampton and Tjaden hit multiple homers this season. Tjaden is a superb basketball player.
Big Question: As normal in 3A, this is a very balanced field, but doesn’t have No. 1 Frontenac, No. 2 Silver Lake or ’21 champion Cheney. Haven, Rossville, Santa Fe Trail, Southeast of Saline and Columbus are traditional stalwarts. None have won a title since at least 2000, and the quintet has combined for three all-time crowns. A strong case for Columbus/Rossville as the best first round game for all classes.
1.Haven (22-1) – Haven is at state for the seventh time in the last nine played seasons. Longtime coach Darin Ashworth has led Haven to a pair of state runner-ups in ’16 and ’17 in Class 4A, Division II and third on three occasions, in ’07, ’08 and ’21. Haven won the CKL for the fourth time in five seasons. Haven has outscored teams, 320-47. Freshman Avery Brawner has 104 strikeouts with 89.1 innings with a 1.49 ERA. Sadie Estill returns after a first team all-state season with a .634 average with 41 RBI and 53 runs scored.
Senior shortstop BrieAnn Brawner is a returning all-state honorable mention pick with a .514 average and 16 extra-base hits. Freshman second baseman Morgan O’Neal leads with 43 RBI. Senior catcher Brookelyn Barnett is 10 of 14 in her last five games. Senior leadoff hitter Kelsi Kincaid has a .462 average with 40 runs scored. Sophie Faidley has a .452 average and been strong defensively at third base. Haven has 10 state appearances. Haven went 7-0 against teams that played in regional title games. Ashworth is 261-71 in 15 years at Haven. He won a 2002 baseball championship at Elkhart.
8. Scott City (16-7) – Scott City has two all-time state appearances, in the last two springs. SC lost to rival Holcomb twice in the regular season won the regional final. Last season, Scott City also defeated Holcomb in the regional final. Ace Cheyenne Cramer has a .333 average with a .439 on-base percentage. Cramer has an 8-3 mark with a 1.58 ERA with 131 strikeouts in 84.1 innings. Crissa Irvin has a .407 average and .475 on-base percentage.
4. Beloit (20-3) – Two of Kansas’ – and 3A’s – best pitchers meet up with Beloit’s Chloe Odle and Santa Fe Trail’s Kaelee Washington. Odle has signed with Butler CC, Washington is a KU commit. Washington is the reigning 3A pitcher of the year. Odle has cleared 300 career strikeouts. Beloit split three doubleheaders, against Clay Center, SES Saline and Abilene. Beloit lost to Hoisington in the regional final last year. Beloit has a 1-0 win against Southeast of Saline.
5. Santa Fe Trail (19-3) – Santa Fe Trail lost its second doubleheader of the year to Rossville. It split with Burlington on April 18. Both of those teams qualified for state. In the regional, SFT beat Prairie View (2-0) and Perry-Lecompton (1-0). KU junior commit Kaelee Washington is the reigning 3A pitcher of the year. She carries a .568 batting average and a .600 on-base percentage. Addalyn Sleichter has a .464 average. Brooke Neidhardt has a .462 average. Washington leads with three homers, 10 steals, 36 runs scored and 42 hits. Washington has posted a 12-1 record and 0.86 earned-run average with 205 strikeouts in 90 innings.
2. Southeast of Saline (21-2) – Southeast of Saline has been a consistent contender under longtime coach Pesha Ptacek, though has never won a state title. SES has won 17 games by at least 10 runs and outscored teams, 294-36. Lexi Jacobson, Bryna Baird and Carly Commerford are the pitchers for a unit that has a 1.36 team earned-run average. SES is at state for the first time in four years. SES split with state qualifier Beloit. The Trojans lost in the first round of state in ’15, reached the final four in ’16 and lost in the quarterfinals in ’17.
7. Burlington (15-6) – Burlington has enjoyed a nice improvement after a 9-9 season last year. Burlington has never won a state softball crown.
3. Columbus (21-2) – Columbus won the CNC title for the second straight year. The Titans edged past defending champion Frontenac on a walk-off in the regional final. Columbus has made its fourth trip to the state tournament. The first time came in 1995 when current head coach Aimee Saporito was on the team. The last occasion came in 1999 when Columbus was runner-up. Current assistant coach Kelly Walters was on that squad.
Columbus split with Frontenac on May 5. In the regional final, the Titans won 2-1 against Frontenac on a walk-off double in the eighth inning on an 0-1 count from Grace Major. Aubree Saporito allowed two hits and one run over three innings, and Major pitched five innings. Aubree is headed to Crowder College softball, catcher Addison Saporito is going to Ottawa wrestling. Columbus was 18-3 last spring. Saporito is in her 16th season coaching, 13th with Columbus. Kaitlyn Simpson, Kaitlynn Lopp, Katy Mooney and Jailyn Rodriguez all are key returners, too.
6. Rossville (17-4) – Rossville has qualified for state for a second straight year. On April 10, Silver Lake beat Rossville, 5-1 and 5-0. In the regional finale, Rossville won 4-1 against SL. Experienced coach John Nitsch, a longtime high school/travel ball coach in the area, has a veteran roster with three seniors: Brinley Dyche, Kayleigh Johnson and Alivia Sherer. Rossville has a remarkable 14 juniors, including Nagos Hale, Emma Mitchell, Kinsey Perine and Ryan Leathers. Last year, Perine set school records for home runs (12), hits (42) and runs scored (48). Dyche set a school mark with four shutouts in 2022. Rossville was the 2017 runner-up. In the 4-1 win against Silver Lake, Perine recorded two hits, and Mitchell drove in two runs. Junior Katie Spielman and Dyche pitched for Rossville. Spielman transferred from Clay Center, junior catcher Hailey Horton from Silver Lake. Rossville is the only team to beat 4A No. 1 Wamego.
Big Question: All eyes on McLouth, which beat defending state runner-up Troy three times this season. Can McLouth and legendary coach Ballard Patterson break through and win its first-ever state crown?
1.McLouth (23-0) – McLouth has allowed just nine runs all season, including a 2-1 win against Troy in the regional final. Troy finished 17-0 when not facing McLouth, 0-3 against McLouth. Troy beat McLouth, 1-0, on a walk-off last season in the regional final. McLouth Coach Ballard Patterson has battled cancer and took several years off before he returned this spring. He has more than 300 career victories, and McLouth’s field is named for him. McLouth notably took third in 2008 and ‘17. McLouth won the 1A powerlifting title this spring. Pitcher Corissa Bandel has committed to NEO softball in Oklahoma. Dani Lee has great power and impressed at Power 5 showcases. Anna Patz and Jill Holwick are top players, too. McLouth has not won a KSHSAA sanctioned title in any sport in at least 40 years. Patz had a key double play off a popup for McLouth in the win against Troy. This season, Bandel has 144 strikeouts, Lee 107. This will be the seventh McLouth state softball appearance, per Jeff County News.
8. Hillsboro (8-13) – Hillsboro opened the year 0-7 against a tough schedule that included two losses to Haven. Cassidy Bernhardt, Kori Arnold, Keeley Brewer and Kirsten Kluver are all key players. Hillsboro won the 2012 state title. In an 8-3 win against Moundridge in the regional final, Arnold worked a complete game with nine strikeouts. Hillsboro won state volleyball last fall. Benhardt and Brewer had multi-hit games against Moundridge. Last season, Arnold, Kluver and Brewer all hit over .300. Arnold is among Kansas’ best volleyball players and will play in the Kansas Volleyball Association all-star match June 3.
4. Ell-Saline (18-3) – Ell-Saline came out of the highly competitive Ellis regional. In the semifinals, Thomas More Prep-Marian came back to beat Ellis, 14-13. In the championship, E-S held off TMP, 3-2. Ell-Saline finished fourth last season. Gabby Norris worked a complete game in the regional championship. Ell-Saline has three seniors. Meryn Came is another key player.
5. Jayhawk-Linn (16-3) – Jayhawk-Linn beat previously undefeated Arma-Northeast in the regional final. J-L lost in the first round in 2021. Jayhawk-Linn took fourth in 2019. This marks the third trip in five seasons.
2. Bluestem (22-1) – Bluestem took third in 2018 and lost in the first round in 2019 and last year. Coach Michelle Womacks stands at 147-32 in her career. Bluestem shared the Tri-Valley League softball title. Pilar Cox is the top pitcher, while Samiya Worrell homered and went 3 of 4 in the 15-5 regional final win against Oxford. Second baseman Bridget Mohr, catcher Sophia Reyes, third baseman Jewell Carleton, shortstop Allie Wesley, center fielder Keyuana Worrell and first baseman Rylee Orpen are key players.
7. Medicine Lodge (9-14) – Medicine Lodge’s experienced players include: pitcher Jhayla Alojacin, Karsyn Jacobson, Teresa Collins, Avalon Theis, Alexa Stivers and Mindy Wells. ML was the No. 5 seed in the Elkhart regional and defeated three higher seeded teams. Medicine Lodge defeated No. 4 seed Stanton County (11-0), top-seeded Bucklin-South Central (8-7 in 8 innings and a 4-2 win against No. 2 Spearville.
3. Richmond-Central Heights (20-1) – Central Heights finished third last year. Central Heights rolled through its own regional with three wins by a combined score of 39-1.
6. St. Marys (18-5) – St. Marys beat defending state champion Mission Valley, 4-2, in the regional finale. MV played nearly all season without ace Morgan Tomlinson, who suffered a knee injury. Lily and Kaycee SinghDhillon and Catherine Moylan are the top players. Lily has a .514 average, Kaycee at .432 and Catherine at .389 in the team’s latest statistical release. Lily has committed to Benedictine softball. In the regional, Lily worked 17 innings with 33 strikeouts and a homer. Kaycee is a sophomore. St. Marys has made a huge improvement from a 6-14 year last spring. The Bears have won eight state titles, the last coming in 2009.