KCKCC Coach Believes Jayhawk Softball Belongs In Fall
Cold, wet springs lead to numerous postponements, cancellations, and injuries
If Kansas City Kansas Community College softball coach Kacy Tillery had her "druthers," she'd play the Jayhawk Conference softball season in the fall instead of the spring.
"We lost 28 games – 14 doubleheaders – to bad weather this spring and it's been about the same the last four or five years," says Tillery. "By the time we're playing our first games, they are against teams that have already played as many as 20.
"A fall season just makes more sense. The weather is warmer in November than it is in February and March when we're trying to get started. We could start in September and play all the way up to December. It would also cut down on injuries. Trying to play in the cold and sometimes rain is a sure way to get someone injured."
Injuries took their toll this spring when the Blue Devils finished 17-24. "Losing shortstop Mekayla Guerreo midway through the season with a fractured bone in her leg caused by a collision was a real big loss to both our offense and defense," said Tillery. Second baseman Bailey Letts also missed games while pitcher Elizabeth Seimears had to take a redshirt season because of elbow soreness.
Graduation will strip the Blue Devils of their five leading hitters this season along with pitching ace Leslie Ford, who finished with an 11-11 record and a 4.05 ERA. Ford completed 20 of her 21 starts, striking out an average of 7.2 hitters per game while walking 2.6. Signed to play this fall at Indiana Purdue at Calumet, she also recorded 99 strikeouts in 138 innings.
Two of the departees, second baseman Bailey Letts and centerfielder Justice Scales, both were first team All-Region and second team All-Jayhawk selections. A SM Northwest graduate who transferred from Pittsburg State, Betts led the Blue Devils in hitting with a torrid .496 average. Signed to play at Austin-Peay State University in Tennessee this fall, she also led in extra base hits with 28 while driving in 30 runs.
A repeat All-Region and All-Jayhawk selection from SM South, Scales finished second in hitting (.414) and RBI (29) and led in stolen bases with 12. A two-year starter at first base from Blue Valley Southwest, Laura Vanderheiden batted .400. A Turner graduate, McKay finished fourth in hitting at .385 with Ford fifth at .341.
Savannah Dungen, a catcher from Piper who earned All-Jayhawk honorable mention, and Guerrero head the list of returnees. Dungan hit .333 with 17 RBI while Guerrero hit .324 with 11 RBI in half a season. Other starters who will return include leftfielder Morgan Oroke of Tonganoxie, who hit .319 with 24 RBI; leftfielder Makayla Foskett of Leavenworth, who also hit .419; designated hitter Reagan Clough of Galena, who hit .294; and all-purpose Tiffany Killam of Brandon, Wisc., who hit .282.
Killam, who led the Blue Devils in home runs with five and RBI with 41, is expected to team with Seimears at the top of the pitching staff next season. In addition to Ford, the mound staff may lose Megan Mason of Belton for the year due to Tommy John surgery. Mason was 6-11 with a 4.89 ERA this past season.