Bradi Basler has been named to the NJCAA DII All-America first team.
One of 11 athletes named to the first team, Basler led Kansas City Kansas Community College to a 41-15 record in 2021, the second most wins in history. She did it with both her bat and her arm. Only the second player in Jayhawk history to hit for the Triple Crown, she is the only player to lead the conference in batting (.503), home runs (20) and runs-batted-in (80) and in pitching victories (20).
Because of that versatility, Basler was an obvious selection for the Utility position on the All-America first team.
“It was difficult to know how to nominate her – for her offense or for her pitching,” said KCKCC Coach Lana Ross. “So, I nominated her for both positions.”
A freshman eligible from Lansing, Basler was named Freshman of the Year in the Jayhawk Conference, but was relegated to the All-Jayhawk Conference second team as a pitcher. Winter Snyder of Labette and Paige Hughes of Cowley College were named first team utility players.
The good news is that Basler will be returning for a third season – and the best may be yet to come.
“She definitely wants to get better and is willing to work to get better,” Ross said. “There’s always things to work on. She knows she has potential and wants a better season next year.”
Basler got in only 14 games when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down her first season in 2020. She hit .385 in 39 plate appearances, rapping three home runs and driving in 24 runs. She also made nine appearances on the mound, compiling a 4-4 record with a 5.13 earned run average. She struck out 59 and walked 20 in 43 innings.
In addition to her Triple Crown this spring, the left-hand hitting Basler also led the Blue Devils in hits (85), extra base hits (40), slugging (.988) and walks (33). A righthander on the mound, she was 20-6 with a 3.64 ERA. She had 18 complete games in 26 starts along with a team high four saves. She also struck out 126 and walked 45 in 150 innings and handled 178 fielding chances without an error.
“She’s definitely one of the best hitters I’ve ever coached,” said Ross, who coached several All-Americans in her first 14 years at Iowa Western. “She has so many tools from the left side of the box – unbelievable power, and yet she can lay down a bunt. She’ll continue to work on her game to be one of the best-ever at KCKCC.”
Other past KCKCC All-Americans include Allison Kassick, who holds the Blue Devil record for hitting at .504 in 2017 and Kaleena Micheli and Dana Dunsmore.
Barring injury, Basler will write numerous all-time bests into the record book. Her 20 home runs in a season are already an all-time best, and she is tied for the career lead with 23. Her hits in a season (85) are also a single season best and her .503 batting average is second only to Allison Kassick (.504). Pitching-wise, Basler’s next win will tie the career record for wins (21), and it is only a matter of time when she will break several other career records.
Basler is the only Jayhawk Conference player named to the NJCAA DII first team. Pitcher Lilli Weir of Highland and infielder Kaylin Watkins of Johnson County were named to the second team while third team selections include catcher Cheyenne Minnick and infielder Gabby Schultz of Highland and outfielder Paige Hughes of Cowley College.
While Basler was the only Blue Devil named to either the first or second All-Jayhawk team, six Blue Devils earned honorable mention – pitcher Breanna Droge; infielders Savannah Maynard, Alaina Howe and Jenna Daugherty and outfielders Alexis Rymer and Devin Purcell. Droge and Maynard are both first year freshmen.
KJCCC Division II Softball Player of the Week
Kansas City Kansas Community College
Freshman shortstop Savannah Maynard helped Kansas City go 8-0 on the week by batting .500 (13-of-26) with a home run, seven doubles, and 14 runs batted in. She also walked five times and scored 12 runs.
KJCCC Division II Softball Pitcher of the Week
Kansas City Kansas Community College
Bradi Basler went 5-0 on the week and struck out 21 batters over 27 1/3 innings pitched. She helped her cause at the plate by going 12-for-24 with 13 runs batted in.
Unleashing the biggest long ball attack of the season, Kansas City Kansas Community College needed just 11 innings to sweep a Jayhawk Conference doubleheader from Coffeyville Tuesday.
The Blue Devils belted four home runs in a 13-5 6-inning opener and added two more in a 14-1 win in the 5-inning nightcap. The wins came on the heels of 3-0 and 6-2 wins over Fort Scott on Monday and boosted the Blue Devils’ Jayhawk record to 4-4 and 20-6 overall. KCKCC resumes conference play at Hesston Thursday before returning home against Metropolitan Saturday at 1 and 3 p.m.
Savannah Maynard, Hannah Maurer, Alaina Howe and Alexis Rymer all homered in the 13-5 win over Coffeyville. Maynard also doubled and drove in two runs; Lindsey Gettle tripled and singled; and Bradi Basler doubled and singles.
KCKCC used four pitchers in the win. The Red Ravens rapped two home runs off starter Breanna Droge in the first two innings before Samantha Reynolds closed out the second inning. Nerida Elson was touched for five hits and two earned runs in two innings before Basler finished up, allowing no hits and striking out four in two innings.
Basler then got the win in the 14-1 nightcap, scattering five hits and striking out three in five innings. She walked none and also belted a 3-run home run. Gettle led the offense with a home run and two doubles and five RBI’s while Devin Purcell singled twice.
Droge allowed just three hits and struck out four in shutting out Fort Scott 3-0 Monday. Jenna Daugherty homered and singled to pace the KCKCC offense.
Basler drove in three runs with a home run and single in the 6-2 nightcap and got the pitching win. She allowed two runs on seven hits, striking out three and walking one in 4.2 innings, Samantha Reynolds got a 2.1 inning save, allowing just two hits and fanning two after coming on with two out in the fifth inning. Maynard doubled twice and Gettler singled twice for the Blue Devils.
Highlighted by a no-hitter by Bradi Basler, Kansas City Kansas Community College swept a softball doubleheader from Ellsworth Friday in Creston, Iowa.
Basler’s hitless performance came in a 5-0 nightcap win after the Blue Devils had breezed to a 14-1 win in a 5-inning opener. The sweep boosted the Blue Devils’ record to 10-2 heading into a home doubleheader Monday with North Dakota State College of Science starting at 1 p.m.
A sophomore from Lansing, Basler struck out a career high 11 and walked four while facing just 25 hitters. “She threw well, one of the better games she’s pitched in her career here,” said KCKCC Coach Lana Ross,.
Freshman first baseman Hannah Maurer delivered the big blow in the 5-0 win, a bases-clearing double for a 3-0 lead in the third. Basler singled in KCKCC’s fourth run in the seventh and scored on Alexis Rymer’s triple. Basler also doubled and Savannah Maynard singled twice in the Blue Devils’ 9-hit attack.
Eight Blue Devils had two hits and seven drove in at least one run in an 18-hit assault in the 5-inning 14-1 opener. Freshman Breanna Droge got the pitching win, allowing three hits, striking out eight and walking five. The lone run came on a bases-loaded walk in the first but the Blue Devils went ahead with seven runs in the second.
Madison Pope and Rymer each drove in three runs, Rymer with a triple and single and Pope with a double and single. Maurer doubled twice, Maynard doubled and singled and Devin Purcell had two singles as each drove in a pair of runs while Jenna Daugherty, Alaina Howe and Basler each singled twice.
“Obviously we hit the ball well,” said Ross. “But I’d like to see our pitchers cut down on the walks.”
Kansas City Kansas Community College needed just 10 innings Saturday to sweep a a pair of shutouts from Central Nebraska 17-0 and 12-0.
The wins improved the Blue Devils’ record to 8-2 heading into the Crowder Bash in Fayetteville, Ark., Friday where they play Southeastern Iowa at 4 p.m. and Mineral Area at 6 p.m.
The lopsided wins enabled KCKCC Coach Lana Ross to use her entire pitching staff. Breanna Droge allowed just one hit and struck out four in 3.1 innings of the opener before Samantha Reynolds finished up, retiring all five hitters she faced.
Nerida Elson pitched the first two innings of the second game, allowing two hits and striking out one. Bradi Basler pitched the third and fourth innings, allowing two hits with Regan Marsh working a hitless fifth.
Devin Purcell and Hannah Maurer each drove in five runs in the 17-0 opener, Purcell doubled and singled twice; Maurer doubled twice. Alyssa Seichepine also had a pair of hits in the 12-hitt attack.
Six Blue Devils had extra base hits in the 12-0 nightcap. Purcell homered, Alexis Rymer tripled and Savannah Maynard, Madison Pope, Alaina Howe and Basler each doubled while Georgia Faunt delivered a run-scoring pinch single
“We played well defensively behind good pitching,” said KCKCC Coach Lana Ross, The Blue Devils had just one error in the two games. “We turned two double plays in the second game. It was a good day with every player contributing; very proud of the team coming out with a lot of energy and really doing a great job at the plate.”
Kansas City Kansas Community College pounded out 15 hits in each game but still had to go extra innings for a softball sweep of Marshalltown Saturday.
Bradi Basler pitched a two-hitter in a 10-1 win in the opener and then singled in the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning of a 9-8 win of the second game. The sweep boosted the Blue Devils to 4-0 heading into a doubleheader with No. 9 ranked Kirkwood Sunday.
KCKCC had an 8-3 lead heading into the seventh inning of the nightcap only to have the Bobcats rap out five straight hits to pull into an 8-8 deadlock. Devin Purcell led off the bottom of the eighth with a double – her fourth hit of the game – took third on a ground ball and scored the winning run on Basler’s single up the middle.
The hit made a winner out of freshman Breanna Droge, who pitched the first 5.1 innings, allowing three runs, five hits, striking out five and walking none. Droge re-entered in the seventh after Sammi Reynolds was touched for five runs. In addition to Purcell’s four hits, Basler tripled and singled, Jenna Daugherty and Hannah Maurer doubled and singled and Alana Howe singled twice.
The Blue Devils led only 2-0 before scoring eight runs in the fourth inning of the 5-inning opener. Basler faced just 17 hitters in four innings on the mound, striking out two and walking four. Nerida Elson pitched the fifth, striking out two.
Lindsey Gettle and Alexis Rymer each had three hits in the opener with Gettle driving in three runs. Madison Pope, Savannah Maynard and Howe each had two hits and drove in runs.
“This probably sounds silly with all the hits we had but I’d like to see us get more aggressive at the plate,” said KCKCC Coach Lana Ross. “I just didn’t think we were that aggressive. We let the second game get out of control. On the positive side, (centerfielder) Devin Purcell and (shortstop) Savannah Maynard played unbelievably well on defense; both had great defensive games.” The Blue Devils were errorless in both games.
If Lana Ross learned anything about her 2020 Kansas City Kansas Community College softball team Tuesday, it was that the Blue Devils have a lot of fight.
Trailing State Fair 12-5 after five innings, the Blue Devils rallied in both the seventh and eighth innings for a wild 14-13 opening game and then posted a 9-1 5-inning win in the night cap.
The wins boosted the Blue Devils’ record to 5-1 heading into some early season showdowns. At Crowder College in Neosho, Mo., Thursday, KCKCC hosts No. 9 ranked Kirkwood Friday at 1 and 3 p.m. and then goes to Northeast Oklahoma A&M in Miami on Sunday.
The Blue Devils won Tuesday’s 14-13 on three straight doubles with none oute in the eighth inning. State Fair had taken a 13-12 lead in the top of the inning on a two-out fly ball that was inches fair but Hannah Redick and Alexis Rymer rapped doubles to left to tie the game and Alaina Howe won it with a high drive to the fence in centerfield.
Down 12-9 in the seventh, the Blue Devils pulled even on Bradi Basler’s ground ball to leftfield that scored two runs. Singles by Lisa Seichepine, Devin Purcell and Abby Henson set up the game-tying hit. KCKCC started its comeback from the 12-5 deficit with four runs in the sixth, the big blow a bases-clearing double by Redick.
Redick finished the day with a solo home run in the fifth, two doubles, a single and five runs-batted-in. Purcell and Leah Seichepine also had four hits and Henson, Basler, Rymer and Howe two each and Jennica Messer deliver a double that ignited the four-run sixth.
The pitching winner in both games, Basler (3-1) got the win in the opener with two innings of one run, one hit relief. Shay Grosstephan worked the first 5.1 innings, giving up nine runs on 14 hits. Freshman Nerida Elson finished the 4-run sixth inning, allowing three runs on two hits and three walks.
The Blue Devils made the nightcap easy for Basler, getting two-run home runs from Rymer and Grosstephan and scoring five runs in the first inning on the way to the 9-1 win. Grosstephan and Howe each doubled in a pair of runs in the first inning; Rymer homered after a Redick single in the third; and Grosstephan followed a walk with a 2-run shot in the fourth. Rymer finished with three hits and three RBI; Purcell and Henson each singled and doubled; and Grosstephan drove in four.
Basler faced just 21 hitters in five innings, allowing one run on four hits. She struck out seven and walked two. Fielding-wise, the Blue Devils were errorless in both wins.
“I wasn’t really happy about how we gave up runs in the first game but very pleased the way we battled back in the first game and then settled down in the second,” said Ross.
Kansas City Kansas Community College will open the 2020 softball season ranked No. 18 in the NJCAA DII pre-season national rankings.
It is the first time the Blue Devils have been ranked in the pre-season poll and the first time in any national rankings since the 2004 team reached the NJCAA national tournament. KCKCC is one of three Jayhawk Conference teams ranked in the opening poll. Highland is ranked No. 5 and Johnson County No. 8.
“A nice compliment, a little credit to the program after the season (38-20) we had last year,” said second year head coach Lana Ross. “It’s a great recruiting tool and lets our recruits know we working to get better. But as far as this team goes, we’re really not looking at the polls. We’re just looking at what we need to do to get better every single day.”
Despite the worst spring weather in a couple of decades, the Blue Devils’ 38 wins last season equaled the second most wins in a season. The Blue Devils also divided regular season series with each of the three co-championship teams and reached the NJCAA Region VI district championship game.
In her 16th season of coaching, Ross is no stranger to being ranked. In her 13 seasons at Iowa Western, her teams were ranked 11 times.
Seven veterans return from last year’s squad, all starters. They include pitchers Shaylun Grosstephan and Mackenzie Pinkerton, catcher Jennica Messer, infielders Hannah Redick and Alaina Howe and outfielders Devin Purcell and Alexis Rymer. They are joined by an outstanding freshman class of 10.
“This team has some talent; we just need to put it together,” says Ross. “Right now, we’re at about 40 percent of what we need to be. We’re four weeks away from our season opener so we have four weeks to go from 40 percent to 80 percent. The work ethic is there but I’m not seeing that inner drive of coming to practice and wanting to get better – part of which probably can be attributed to having to practicing inside. Hopefully we’ll be able to get outside Sunday and Monday.”
The Blue Devils will open the season Tuesday, Feb. 25, when they host the No. 5 ranked team in the nation, Kirkwood of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Metropolitan Community College follows Feb. 27 and State Fair March 3 before KCKCC goes on the road for the first time.
Head coach Lana Ross keeps a watchful eye on indoor batting practice as she readies her No. 18 ranked KCKCC softball team for the start of the 2020 season Feb. 25. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)
For the first time since 2010, Kansas City Kansas Community College has advanced to the NJCAA Region VI semifinal playoffs in Topeka.
A come-from-behind 6-4 win and a 9-0 shutout in a sweep of Cloud County in first round playoff action Saturday propelled the No. 7 seeded Blue Devils (36-18) into the four-team District D regional against No. 2 Hesston (34-11) next Saturday. The game will be played at 10 a.m. on the South Field at Topeka’s Hummer Park.
A double elimination tournament, a win would send the Blue Devils against the Johnson County-Murray State winner at 2 p.m.; a loss and KCKCC would meet the JCCC-Murray State loser, also at 2 p.m.
Shortstop Hannah Redick provided the heroics in the 6-4 opener; Mackenzie Pinkerton hurled a two-hit pitching gem in the 9-0 nightcap played before the biggest crowd of the season as fans lined the right field line and watched from behind the left field fence.
Trailing 4-2, the Blue Devils rallied with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to win the first game. Brittney Beck singled with one out and scored all the way from first on Jennica Messer’s single to right and a throwing error. Britney Smith beat out a bunt for a hit and both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch before Redick delivered the game’s biggest blow – a ringing double to right-center to score the tying and lead runs. Pinkerton then added an insurance run with a sacrifice fly.
“Hannah has been a good hitter all season; a nominee for freshman of the year,” said KCKCC Coach Lana Ross. “She’s been a great leadoff for us.”
With the lead, freshman Shay Grosstephan shut the Thunderbirds down in the seventh aided by a double play started by Smith at second, who tagged a runner and threw to first. Grosstephan allowed six hits, walking two and striking out two. Cloud took a 1-0 lead in the first on a pair of two-out doubles but Grosstephan retired 12 of the next 14 hitters before the T-Birds took advantage of a two-out error to score three runs in the fifth and go ahead 4-2.
Grosstephan helped her own cause in the first inning with a run-scoring double after a Devin Purcell single and a Pinkerton single and Smith two-out double gave KCKCC a 2-1 lead in the fourth.
Pinkerton faced only 17 hitters in her 2-hit gem in the 5-inning second game. “Both pitchers pitched well and we did a good job of coming from behind, something we’ve done all season and worked on in practice this week,” said Ross. “Our base-running was also good, something we worked on.”
Sophomore Kaylee Arnzen’s 10th home run, a 3-run no doubter to left, was the final touch in the 5-inning nightcap. KCKCC took a 2-0 lead in the first on singles by Redick, Purcell and Grosstephan and a ground ball and added two in the third on Pinkerton’s 2-run double following singles by Arnzen and Alexis Rymer.
Singles by Beck and Smith ignited a 5-run fourth with Beck scoring on Smith’s single and Redick’s squeeze bunt scoring Smith. After a double by Purcell and single by Grosstephan, Arnzen launched her home run to left.
If you enjoy exciting softball, you would have love Thursday’s doubleheader at Kansas City Kansas Community College.
Twice the Blue Devils came from behind, once in the bottom of the seventh in a 6-5 win and again in the sixth inning of a 13-8 nightcap in a sweep of Jayhawk Conference rival Allen County.
The sweep tightened KCKCC’s grip on fourth place in the conference at 6-2 and improved the Blue Devils’ overall record to 22-10 heading into a stretch of four doubleheaders in four days starting Saturday at Neosho County at noon. The Blue Devils stay on the road Sunday at Metropolitan-Maple Woods at 1 p.m., return home Monday to host Fort Scott in a conference twin bill at 2 p.m. and then go to Leavenworth Tuesday to take on Saint Mary JV, also at 2 p.m.
Freshman catcher Jennica Messer of Basehor provided the heroics in the 6-5 win Thursday, driving in four runs with a double and two singles. Trailing 1-0 in the fourth, Messer delivered the big blow in a four-run rally. After a single by Kaylee Arnzen and a pair of walks, Messer drove in all three with a double and then scored on a single by Hannah Redick.
Allen County re-took the lead 5-4 in the fifth, scoring the tying and go-ahead runs on a two-out bloop double down the right field line. Shay Grosstephen ignited KCKCC’S game-winning rally in the seventh with a single. Arnzen drew a walk and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. A single by Mackenzie Pinkerton tied the game with one out and with two down, Messer rapped a single into centerfield to score the winning run. “Just wanted to get a hit,” said Messer. “Jennica had a great game at bat,” said KCKCC Coach Lana Ross.
The rally made a winner out of Pinkerton (7-7), who gave up two runs and four hits in 2 2/3 innings in relief of Grosstephan, who allowed three runs on four hits before being relieved with one out in the fifth. Both Pinkerton and Grosstephan had two singles as did Redick in KCKCC’s 10-hit attack.
KCKCC trailed 7-1 in the second game before scoring three runs in the fifth and seven in the sixth inning of the 13-8 win. Pounding out 15 hits, the 13 runs are the Blue Devils’ most in the last 20 games dating back to March 16.
The Blue Devil attack included four home runs, two by Arnzen and one each by Redick and Grosstephan. Arnzen drove five runs with her two home runs while Redick drove in three with her home run and single. Britney Smith had three singles, Alexis Rymer and Grosstephan two apiece and Pinkerton and Messer one each.
Down 8-6 going into the bottom of the sixth, the Blue Devils quickly pulled even. Smith ignited the 7-run inning with a single and Redick tied the game with an inside-the-park home run. Arnzen then put the Blue Devils in front 10-8 with a two-run home run after Devin Purcell had been hit with a pitch. KCKCC then tacked on three more runs on a walk, a single by Alaina Howe and a double by Messer.
Pinkerton (8-7) also got the win in the second game after coming on in relief of Grosstephan with one out in the fourth. Grosstephan allowed four hits and four runs, one of which was unearned; Pinkerton allowed four runs on seven hits, striking out four and walking
PHOTO IDENT (A winner)
KCKCC Coach Lana Ross celebrates as Kaylee Arnzen scores the winning run on a two-out single by Jennica Messer in a 6-5 win over Allen County Thursday. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)
Kansas City Kansas Community College kicked off a six-date home stand with an offensive assault Friday, pounding out 22 hits in sweeping a doubleheader over Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods.
Finally playing at home for the first time, the Blue Devils collected 10 hits in an 11-5 opening game win and then added a dozen more in a 15-5 5-inning cruise in the nightcap. The first wins for new coach Lana Ross, the sweep evened the Blue Devils’ record at 2-2 heading into a home doubleheader Monday with State Fair at 1 and 3 p.m. The twin bill Monday is the first of five home doubleheaders scheduled this coming week.
Four Blue Devils had two hits in the 11-5 opener – Hannah Redick, Devin Purcell, Kaylee Arnzen and winning pitcher Shaylun Grosstephan. Arnzen drove in three runs with a single and double while Britney Smith tripled in a pair of runs. Grosstephan worked the first 4 1/3 innings, allowing four hits and five runs, two of which were unearned. She struck out three and walked four.
Mackenzie Pinkerton finished up to record a save and then went the distance in the second game. Pinkerton faced 12 hitters, giving up one hit, striking out six and walking three for the save. In the nightcap, Pinkerton scattered eight hits, striking out six and walking none in facing 23 hitters.
The Blue Devils repeated with four players with two hits in the second game while Britney Smith again tripled in two runs. Jennica Messer drove in four runs with a double and single and Alaina Howe drove in two with a triple and single. Redick and Grosstephan each had a pair of singles, drove in runs and scored three times.
“We had a slow start in the circle in the first game but I know that will come around as it was Grosstephan’s first outing,” said Ross. “We committed too many errors physically (four) and mentally but I was proud of them for doing their jobs at the plate and scoring a lot of runs.
“The second game was a much better game and a better example of how we can play. Pinkerton did a great job today, pitching 7 2/3 innings and collecting 12 strikeouts. We need to keep building from here and get better with each game.”
After hosting State Fair Monday, the Blue Devils will entertain North Dakota School of Science Wednesday (2-4 p.m.), Ellsworth Friday (12-2 p.m.), Cloud County Saturday (1-3 p.m.) and Southwestern Iowa Sunday (12-2 p.m.). The Cloud County doubleheader will open Jayhawk Conference play.
This past spring, Lana Ross was literally blown away by Kansas City Kansas Community College’s new softball facilities. Now, she’s the new Lady Blue Devils’ head coach.
“I love the field, the facilities are incredible,” says Ross, who coached Fort Scott to a split with KCKCC in a Jayhawk Conference doubleheader in late March. “This is a great opportunity and a great spot; one in which I feel very comfortable.”
A 14-year head coaching veteran, Ross brings a wealth of experience and success to the KCKCC program. In a 13-year career at Iowa Western in Council Bluffs, Ross’ teams compiled a record of 544-238, the most wins in IWCC history. A five-time Region XI Coach of the Year, she was recognized in 2013 by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) as the Coaching Staff of the Year. In eight seasons, her teams won 40 or more games and twice won 50 or more. Winner of five regional titles and three district championships, her teams reached the NJCAA national tournament three times.
“Lana Ross is the right person to lead our softball program,” said KCKCC Athletic Director Tony Tompkins. “She is a strong leader, tough competitor and has committed to the success of the student-athlete in the classroom and on the field.”
In each of her 13 years at Iowa Western, Ross’ teams were recognized as Academic Team of the Year by the NFCA. During her tenure at IWCC, Ross coached 11 NJCAA All-Americans, 17 NFCA All-Americans, 25 NJCAA Academic All-Americans and 96 NFCA Academic All-Americans. In addition, 62 players earned All-Region first team honors and 43 were named to the All-Region second team.
In 2015, Ross was selected to coach the NJCAA All-Star team in the prestigious Canada Cup competition in Surrey, British Columbia. After leaving college coaching for two years to give private lessons, Ross returned to the coaching ranks in 2017-18 at Fort Scott where she coached the Greyhounds to a 28-22 record.
Ross officially begins her KCKCC coaching duties July 9 but has already started recruiting for the upcoming season. “I was hired late at Fort Scott so I’m not overly concerned,” says Ross. “We’ll still be okay. My emphasis is always about fundamentals; something I’ve done with all my programs. Day in and day out there will be a lot of repetitions and teaching the game. We want to build a program year after year and start moving up in the conference standings.”
Ross said the all-weather field, the only one in the Jayhawk Conference, opens up a wealth of opportunities. “It’s amazing. Not having to spend a lot of time preparing the field will allow more time to work with our student-athletes. Also, there’s so much room. I’ve already got lots of ideas and plans. A great opportunity all around. I could not ask for more.”
An outstanding player in her own right, Ross was a member of an Oklahoma City University softball team that won back-to-back national championships. She also played competitively in Canada, Europe and the U.S. An Education major at Oklahoma City, Ross was named to Who’s Who Among America Teachers in 2004-05. A member of the NFCA since 1999, she has served as a keynote speaker for numerous leadership conventions. She began her coaching career in 1999 as an assistant at Blinn (Tex.) Junior College and was an assistant at the University of Oregon for one year before taking the head coaching position at Iowa Western.
Kansas City Kansas Community College snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the most exciting softball win of the season Tuesday.
Trailing Fort Scott 9-5 with five outs to go, the Lady Blue Devils scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and two more in the bottom of the seventh for their first Jayhawk Conference win 10-9. However, Fort Scott used a big seventh inning uprising for an 11-4 second game win.
The Blue Devils are right back in action Thursday, hosting Maple Woods followed by Cloud County Tuesday. Both doubleheaders will start at 2 p.m.
KCKCC’s comeback in the opener came with one out in the sixth inning. After loading the bases on a single by Logan Tucker, walk and an error, Jennifer Mullins singled in one run and Kaylee Arnzen doubled in two more to cut the Fort Scott lead to 9-8.
A pair of Basehor-Linwood grads, Natalie Cowan and Kali Jacobson, provided the big blows in the seventh. Cowan bunted for a single, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored the tying run as Tucker was being thrown out at first base. Jadyn Lindgren then drew a two-out walk and scored the game-winner of Jacobson’s one-hop triple to left-center.
Lauren Scott provided KCKCC’s other big blow, a grand slam home run in the first inning after Fort Scott had taken a 4-0 lead. The grand slam was set up by an error and singles by Mullins and Brown. Scott also scored the Blue Devils’ fifth run when she singled to lead off the fifth, took second on a Cowan sacrifice bunt and scored on Tucker’s single. Scott finished with three hits and Brown, Mullins and Tucker two each in KCKCC’s 14-hit attack.
The rally made a winner out of Shannon Greene, who gave up 12 hits and nine runs, seven of which were earned. Fort Scott scored four runs in the first on three doubles and then went ahead 6-4 in the second on a pair of unearned runs. The Greyhounds opened a 9-4 lead in the fourth, scoring three times on two doubles and two singles but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Blue Devils.
The second game had all the makings for another come-from-behind-win. Trailing 5-3, the Blue Devils cut the deficit to 5-4 in the bottom of the sixth on a Cowan triple and Tucker sacrifice fly only to have Fort Scott score six runs on seven hits and two errors in the top of the seventh. Led by Shelby Choate’s four hits including a solo home run, the Greyhounds finished with 15 hits off four KCKCC pitchers.
The Blue Devils finished with 10 hits including six for extra base hits. Cowan tripled and singled, Mullins doubled and singled and Brown, Lindgren, Arnzen and Scott each doubled.
PHOTO IDENT (2 photos)
KCKCC sophomore third baseman Kali Jacobson drives a two-out triple to the fence in left-centerfield that drove in Jadyn Lindgren with the game-winning run in a 10-9 win over Fort Scott Tuesday. The triple set up a wild celebration at third base as Jacobson (in helmet) is greeted by Coach Kacy Tillery, Lauren Scott, who hit a grand slam earlier, and other jubilant Blue Devils. (Photos by Jan Humphreys)
If a sweep of State Fair Tuesday is a harbinger of things to come, Kansas City Kansas Community College softball fans are in for an exciting season.
Trailing State Fair 4-0 in the sixth inning of the first game of a doubleheader, the Lady Blue Devils rallied for six runs and then escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the seventh inning to win a 6-5 thriller and then broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning for a 4-2 win in the nightcap. The win boosted KCKCC’s record to 3-1 heading into a Wednesday doubleheader with North Central College.
“Two very good wins; great leadership from a group of sophomores who didn’t play much last year and definitely team wins from top to bottom,” said KCKCC Coach Kacy Tillery. “They could have easily folded in the first game but they came back and fed off each other’s energy.”
Indeed, the Blue Devils got three straight hits with two out to overtake State Fair in the opener. After a double by Kaylee Arnzen and a single by Jenni Mullins scored KCKCC’s first run, Paris Forshey and Shannon Brown singled to load the bases. Brittney Beck made it five straight hits with an RBI single and after a force out at home for the second out, Natalie Cowan singled for a third run, Kali Jacobson ripped a two-run single up the middle to put the Blue Devils ahead 5-4 and Jadyn Lindgren’s single added what proved to be the game-winner.
Shannon Greene, the Blue Devils’ only experienced pitcher, then bailed herself out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh. After State Fair loaded the bases on a bloop single, walk and infield hit with none out, Greene got the next two hitters on a fly ball and a ground ball. A bases-loaded walk trimmed the lead to 6-5 before a line drive to Jacobson at third base sealed the win.
In the nightcap, the Blue Devils bounced right back after State Fair had tied the game 2-2 with two runs in the fifth. A single by Arnzen, walk and a passed ball scored KCKCC’s go-ahead run and a Forshey ground ball made it 4-2. The Blue Devils’ first two runs came in the first on a walk, a single by Jacobson and RBI ground balls by Jadyn Lindgren and Arnzen.
Freshman Katelyn Kittrell of Lansing got the pitching win, allowing two runs and striking out three in five innings before another frosh, Faith Maslak, preserved the win, giving up two hits and walking one.
With Shannon Greene the only Blue Devil to record significant playing time in last year’s 23-22 season, this is Tillery’s most inexperienced team with four freshmen starting in the first game, five in the second along with a reshuffling of sophomores with limited playing experience.
The starting infield was made up of Jenni Mullins, a converted third baseman who played in 12 games last season at first base; Natalie Cowan, who had just 19 plate appearances in 27 games at second; Kali Jacobson, a transfer from Bethany College via Basehor-Linwood at third; and freshman Kaylee Arnzen at shortstop. Yet another third baseman, freshman Brittney Beck, moved to catcher, while sophomore Lauren Scott recovers from an off-season leg injury.
In the outfield, Shannon Brown moved from the infield where she played in just five games to centerfield where she’s flanked by a pair of freshmen, Parish Forshey of Bonner Springs and Jadyn Lindgren ahead of two other frosh, Lincoln Schwisow of Basehor-Linwood and Logan Tucker.
Freshmen will also carry the pitching load when Greene isn’t on the mound, A righthander from McLouth who started 19 games last season, Greene has signed to attend Aurora College in the fall. In addition to Kittrell and Maslak, the pitching staff includes Shelby Espy, Sidney Duval, Haley Luna, Aspen Salinas and injured Hanna Hurt. Espy, Salinas and Logan Tucker will also see duty on the infield along with Dawsyn Long and Gracie Gentry. All are freshmen.
Play in one of the nation’s toughest conferences is next up for the Blue Devils and no team in the Jayhawk has a tougher start. The Blue Devils host No. 5 ranked Johnson County in the opener Tuesday at 1 p.m. followed by road tests at No. 11 Cowley College and No. 16 Highland.
PHOTO IDENT (Extra effort)
A collision with third baseman Kali Jacobson didn’t prevent KCKCC catcher Brittney Beck from catching a foul fly in the Blue Devils’ come-from-behind 6-5 win over State Fair Tuesday. The young Blue Devils also won the nightcap 4-2 (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)
The women’s softball team at Kansas City Kansas Community College has been named Non-Profit Organization of the Month by Sporting Kansas City and The Legends.
The award was presented for the various capacities of work performed by coaches and members of this year’s Lady Blue Devil squad at Sporting KC home soccer games in September at Children’s Mercy Park at The Legends.
“The group of KCKCC softball players was amazing during the time that they were out here fund-raising,” said Kimberly Lanio of Sporting KC’s staff division. “You have a great group of girls. When they came in to work, they were ready. They always showed up early and with smiles on their faces and once a location is explained to them they go right to work.
“I have heard from clients that they are quick and quiet which is great in the premium. The girls are always willing to move to where I need them and while they might not be happy about it, they still work their tails off – which is why I nominated them for the Non-Profit Organization for the month of September.”
The plaque presented to KCKCC head coach Kacy Tillery and assistant Tiffany Jennings read “In recognition of your outstanding performance reflecting the 6A’s of Service for September 2017. Your commitment to excellence is appreciated by all.”
Recognition as the Non-Profit Organization for the month of September by Sporting KC and The Legends drew big smiles from Shannon Green (foreground left) and Jennifer Mullins and the rest of Kansas City Kansas Community College softball team coached by Kacy Tillery. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)
Seven members of the 2017 Kansas City Kansas Community College softball team have earned post-season honors headed by All-Jayhawk Conference first teamer Allison Kasick.
A freshman designated hitter from Basehor-Linwood, Kasick was named to the All-District E first team and All-Jayhawk first team. Sophomore LaTisha Thomas of Highland Park was named to the All-Jayhawk second team and Turner sophomore Kaylynn Stratton earned all-conference honorable mention.
Kasick hit a record .504 for the Blue Devils this season and led the team hit doubles (15), home runs (10), runs-batted-in (60) and slugging percentage (.882). Her .504 batting average was second best in the Jayhawk. A two-year starter, Thomas hit .434 and led the Blue Devils in stolen bases with 20 while Stratton’s .472 batting average was fifth best in the conference.
Joining Kasick on the All-District E first team are shortstop Candice Jennings of Basehor-Linwood and outfielder Hannah Bishop of Van Horn. Both are sophomores. Thomas and Stratton are joined by freshman Mikaela Hoffart of Salina and sophomore pitcher Megan Sumonja of Lawrence on the all-district second team.
Bishop was third in hitting at .441, third in RBI with 28 and tied with Kasick and Stratton with the team lead in hits with 60; Jennings was second in doubles with 14 and fourth in hitting with a .412 average. Hoffart was second in RBI’s with 35 while hitting .365 while Sumonja was the team leader in pitching wins with 10 while compiling a 3.46 ERA.
Seven KCKCC softball players earned post-season honors this spring. They are (from left) Alison Kasick, All-Jayhawk and All-District first team; LaTisha Thomas, All-Jayhawk and All-District second team; Kaylynn Stratton, All-District second team and All-Jayhawk honorable mention; and All-District selections Candice Jennings, first team; Mikaela Hoffart, second team; Hannah Bishop, first team; and Megan Sumonja, second team. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)
A pair of Megan’s – Mason and Sumonja – celebrated their Sophomore Day at Kansas City Kansas Community College with matching one-hitters in a pair of 8-0 wins over Cottey College Friday.
A sophomore from Belton, Megan Mason allowed only one Cottey hitter to reach first base in the 8-0 opener; Megan Sumonja of Lawrence did not allow a hit after the first inning in the 6-inning 8-0 nightcap win.
The sweep evened the Lady Blue Devils’ season record at 20-20 heading into the regular season finale against a University of Kansas club team Sunday at noon and 2 p.m. KCKCC then will await first round pairings for the Region VI playoffs set to begin next weekend.
Mason faced the minimum of 15 batters in the 5-inning opener, allowing a 2-out single in the bottom of the fourth who was immediately thrown out trying to steal. Mason struck out five, walked none.
Hannah Bishop and Katherine Stringer each had three hits and Candice Jennings and Amy-Grace Wilson two apiece in a 14-hit KCKCC offense. The Blue Devils scored the only run they would need in the second on singles by Stringer, Jennings and Wilson and then added four runs in the third. After a single by Bishop sandwiched between a pair of walks, Mikaela Hoffart singled in two runs and hits by Stringer, Jennings and Wilson scored two more.
The Blue Devils then closed out the win with three runs in the fifth. Stringer started the rally with a double and with two out, Sam Sudac doubled, LaTisha Thomas tripled and Bishop’s third hit ended it.
Sumonja struck out 11 in six innings in the second game. After giving up a first inning single, Sumonja allowed only three other base runners (two walks and hit batsman) and retired the final 10 hitters in a row.
Allison Kasick’s 10th home run of the season, a towering blast to centerfield, was the first of four straight hits for Kasick, a designated hitter from Basehor-Linwood. Kaylynn Stratton, Sam Sudac and McKenzie Hersh added two hits each.
KCKCC jumped in front with three runs in the first. After Stratton’s leadoff single, Bishop’s bunt single was thrown past first base and Bishop circled the bases before Kasick made it 3-0 with her booming home run. The Blue Devils made it 5-0 in the second. After singles by Sudac, Hersh and Stratton loaded the bases, Kasick and Hoffart delivered run-scoring singles.
A walk and doubles by Hersh and Kasick highlighted a 2-run third inning and the Blue Devils closed out the game in the sixth on Kasick’s fourth hit, a walk and Stringer’s game-ending single.
Eleven sophomores were honored between games – catcher Amy-Grace Wilson, infielders Sam Sudac, Katherine Stringer, Candice Jennings and Allison Kasick, outfielders Hannah Bishop, McKenzie Hersh, Kaylynn Stratton and Meghan Smith and pitchers Megan Mason and Megan Mason.
GOING, GOING GONE – Allison Kasick blasts her 10th home run of the season, a towering blast to center, one of four hits for the Basehor-Linwood grad in an 8-0 KCKCC nightcap win over Cottey College Friday. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)
Ignited by a pair of home runs by Allison Kasick, Kansas City Kansas Community College swept a Jayhawk Conference softball doubleheader at Neosho County Tuesday.
A freshman from Basehor-Linwood, Kasick’s two home runs and five runs-batted-in powered KCKCC to a 7-3 opening game win and set up a 10-1 second game win. The sweep evened the Lady Blue Devils’ record at 16-16 heading into another Jayhawk twin bill at Allen County Wednesday.
Kasick’s first homer following a Hannah Bishop single gave KCKCC a 2-0 lead in the first and she capped a 3-run second inning with a 2-run single set up by singles by Candice Jennings, Sam Sudac, LaTisha Thomas and Bishop. Kasick’s second home run and fifth RBI came in the fourth and Mikaela Hoffart singled and scored on a Jennings’ ground ball in the fifth.
Megan Sumonja went the 7-inning route for the win, allowing five hits and three runs but only one earned. She struck out six and walked two. She was backed by 12 hits including three by Kassick and two each by Bishop, Hoffart and Thomas.
Shannon Greene got the win in the 5-inning nightcap, scattering seven hits. The Blue Devils pounded out 15 hits including a half-dozen in both the second and third innings. Six of the first seven Blue Devils to come to the plate lashed out hits as KCKCC jumped in front 4-0 in the second. Hoffart started it with a single and after a ground ball, Jennings singled in a run, Sudac doubled in another and Thomas, Kaylynn Stratton and Bishop rapped consecutive singles.
KCKCC built the lead to 9-0 in the third, scoring five runs on singles by Hoffart, Stringer, Sudac, Thomas and Stratton and a 2-run single by Bishop. The Blue Devils then ended it after five innings on singles by Stratton and Kasick, her sixth RBI of the day,
Hutchinson picked the wrong Lady Blue Devil to challenge in the opening game of a doubleheader at Kansas City Kansas Community College Saturday.
Trailing 5-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Blue Devils tied the game on clutch doubles by Hannah Bishop and Allison Kasick. With two out, Hutchinson decided to intentionally walk Mikaela Hoffart and Katherine Stringer foiled the strategy by rifling a line-drive single to right-center for the game-winner in a 6-5 win.
However, it was the Conquistadors who had the big inning in the second game, wiping out a 2-1 deficit with seven runs in the sixth inning for an 8-6 win. The split left the Blue Devils 14-16 heading into three straight twin bills this week – at Neosho County Tuesday, Allen County Wednesday and Southeast in Beatrice, Neb., Thursday.
Limited to just three hits and trailing 5-2 going into the bottom of the seventh of the opener, the Blue Devils charged from behind on back-to-back one-out singles by LaTisha Thomas and Kaylynn Stratton. Bishop made it 5-4 with a 2-run double and Kasick doubled in the tying run and set up Stringer’s game-winning hit,
The rally made a winner out of reliever Megan Mason, who came on with two on and none out in the seventh and pitched out of a bases-loaded situation. Megan Sumonja pitched the first six innings, allowing five runs, only three of which were earned. KCKCC’s other two runs came in the fifth on two walks and a Bishop single.
Shannon Greene allowed only three hits and one unearned run the first five innings in the second game only to have eight straight Conquistadors reach base in the sixth inning, seven on base hits to take an 8-2 lead before Mason ended the uprising.
KCKCC jumped in front 2-0 in the first on a single by Bishop, hit batsman and a 2-run double by Hoffart but managed only one more single until the sixth, when singles by Grace Grosvenor, Stringer and Candice Jennings made it 8-3. The Blue Devils tried to mount another last-inning rally in the seventh, scoring three times. Singles by Thomas and Stratton and a double by Kasick scored two runs and Hoffaart singled in the third before Hutch’s Holly Kelley left the tying run in the on-deck circle.
Kansas City Kansas Community College rolled out the bats in record fashion Thursday, pounding out 57 hits in a softball sweep of State Fair Community College in Sedalia, MO.
The Lady Blue Devils pounded out 26 hits in a 12-6 win in the opener and then added 31 more in a 19-5 nightcap win that needed only five innings.
The wins boosted the KCKCC record to 8-2 heading into Jayhawk Conference play next Tuesday when the Blue Devils host Highland, one of the odds-on favorites in the conference. First pitch will be at 1 p.m.
“We obviously hit the ball well and Megan Sumonja came on to pitch well in relief,” said KCKCC Coach Kacy Tillery. “Now we need to continue to deliver against one of the very best teams in the conference Tuesday.” The two wins gave KCKCC a four-game sweep of State Fair including a come-from-behind 2-1 win this past Tuesday.
Kaylynn Stratton, a sophomore outfielder from Turner, led the way with a KCKCC record 10 hits in 10 plate appearances in the two games. Rapping out five hits in each game, her record assault included a double, two triples and six runs-batted-in.
Every Blue Devil starter had at least four hits in the two games and four blasted home runs in the nightcap. The biggest was a grand slam by Sam Sudac while Allison Kasick, Mikaela Hoffart and Candice Jennings hit back-to-back-to-back homers in a 9-run fifth inning in the second game..
Catcher Amy-Grace Wilson had eight hits in the doubleheader, four singles in each game, and Kasick was a perfect 5-for-5 in the nightcap, finishing with seven hits and six RBI. Blue Devils with six hits included Hannah Bishop with one double and four RBI; and Katherina Stringer and Candice Jennings with six singles each.
Hoffart drove in five runs with her home run and four singles; Sudac had six RBI including her grand slam and four singles; and LaTisha Thomas had four singles.
Pitching beneficiaries were Megan Sumonja and Shannon Greene, Sumonja came on in relief after starter Megan Mason had given up a grand slam home run in a 6-run third inning and blanked the Roadrunners the rest of the way, allowing just two hits and striking out seven for the win. Greene went the distance in the nightcap, allowing no runs in the first three innings before giving up a pair of home runs and 13 hits.
Kansas City Kansas Community College’s women’s softball team stole a page out of the KU basketball playbook Tuesday, coming from behind in both games in a doubleheader sweep of State Fair.
Trailing 1-0, the Blue Devils tied the opener in the sixth inning and won it in the seventh 2-1 on Mikaela Hoffart’s two-out double and then erased a 6-4 deficit with four runs in the bottom of the sixth for an 8-6 win in the second game.
“A really good determined effort to come from behind in both games,” said KCKCC Coach Kacy Tillery. “We swung the bats (30 hits in the two games), got strong relief from Cheyenna Owens in both games and didn’t make an error in either game.”
The wins snapped State Fair’s four-game winning streak and boosted the Blue Devils’ record to 6-2 heading into a re-match with State Fair in Sedalia Thursday before jumping into Jayhawk Conference play Tuesday when they league favorite Highland in a twin bill starting at 1 p.m.
Sophomore Megan Sumonja did not allow a hit in the opener until the sixth inning when State Fair scored its only run on a leadoff walk, stolen base, ground ball and a two-out infield single, the Roadrunners’ only hit of the game. The Blue Devils bounced right back to tie it in the bottom of the inning. Candice Jennings started the inning with a double to left and with two out, Katherine Stringer lashed a double to right-center to tie it.
The Blue Devils then won it in the seventh on a one-out walk and Hoffart’s sinking line drive that skipped past the rightfielder and brought pinchrunner McKenzie Hersh home with the game-winner. Four Blue Devils had two hits in the contest, LaTisha Thomas, Hoffart, Jennings and Stringer.
The rally made a winner out of Cheyenna Owens, a freshman from Pleasant Ridge who also got the win in the nightcap. Owens came on in the top of the seventh after Sumonja had given up a walk and hit batsman and on her second pitch, got a ground ball double play started by Jennings at shortstop. Owens then pitched three innings of relief in the second game, allowing three hits, two runs and no walks.
Trailing 6-4 in the nightcap, KCKCC wasted no time in tying the game. After a leadoff single by Taylor Hall, Basehor’s Allison Kasick blasted a game-tying home run to centerfield, The Blue Devils then won it on doubles by Hoffart, Jennings and Stringer.
The Blue Devils pounded out 19 hits in the second game including 11 in the first three innings when they only scored four times while leaving eight runners on base. The first four Blue Devils hitters in the first – Thomas, Hall, Kasick and Hoffart – all singled and Stringer added a fifth but KCKCC managed only two runs.
Hoffart finished with four hits, three singles and a double; Kassick drove in four runs with a home run, single and sacrifice fly; Hannah Bishop singled three times; Sam Sudac and Thomas each singled twice and Jennings and Stringer had RBI doubles.
Kacy Tillery is the most excited she’s been about her Kansas City Kansas Community College softball team in her 16 years as head coach and who can blame her?
Her 2017 Blue Devils are playing their first season on a brand new state-of-the-art all-weather field, the only one of its kind in the Jayhawk Conference. The Blue Devil pitching staff is the deepest it’s ever been and position players are at least two-deep at virtually every spot. The only thing it lacks is experience.
“I’m really excited,” admits Tillery. “Although we lack experience, the pitching staff is easily the deepest we’ve had. We also have a lot of players who can play different positions and the depth that if someone is not getting the job done, we have someone else who is right on their heels and can step right in.”
The new all-weather field has already paid early dividends. “We’ve been outside more since getting back from the semester break than we’ve ever been, which I hope gives us a leg up on everyone else,” says Tillery. That’s good because the Blue Devils open the season Wednesday when they host North Central in a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. It’s the first of five straight home contests including Southeast Feb. 17, Maple Woods Feb. 23, Iowa Central Feb. 24 and State Fair 28.
The Blue Devils return only two full-time starters from last year’s 25-21 team, outfielder LaTisha Thomas and third baseman Kaylynn Stratton; and two part-time starters, infielder Sam Sudac and catcher Amy Grace-Wilson. But there’s 13 freshmen and a bevy of transfers chomping at the bit to step into starting roles.
Four pitchers are in contention for starting berths – sophomores Megan Sumonja of Lawrence and Megan Mason of Belton and freshmen Shannon Greene of McLouth and Cheyenna Owens of Pleasant Ridge. Sumonja is a transfer from Barton County where she pitched sparingly last season while Mason took a redshirt season last year to undergo elbow surgery. Greene is also a transfer from Saint Mary but has not pitched collegiately.
“The good thing is we don’t have to rely on just one of the four to be No. 1,” says Tillery. “They each provide versatility in their roles and the ability to be a starter but also all can come in relief as needed and are happy to fill any role they are needed on any given day.” Two freshmen, Aubrie Sutton of Turner, and southpaw Shelby Turner of McLouth, will also provide relief.
Catching will also be solid with the return of Amy-Grace Wilson, who hit .450 in 23 games last season, and freshman Grace Grosvenor of Lee’s Summit. “Both have great minds for the game and communicate and work well with the pitchers,” says Tillery.
The battles for infield and outfield starting jobs are as heavily contested as the pitching. Two freshman, Mikaela Hoffart of Salina and Allison Kasick, a Basehor-Linwood grad who transferred from Highland, both have good power and are also possibilities as designated hitters. Pitcher Cheyenna Owens also is a possibility.
Sam Sudac, who hit .200 in 37 games last year, returns at second base where she’s being challenged by a pair of freshmen, Natalie Cowan of Basehor-Linwood, and Shannon Brown of Atchison, who transferred from Kansas Wesleyan. Candice Jennings, a sophomore from Basehor-Linwood who transferred from Neosho County, has the inside track at shortstop over Shannon Brown and Taylor Hall, a freshman from Piper.
Katherine Stringer, a sophomore from Basehor-Linwood who saw action in six games last year, is being challenged by Piper freshman Jennifer Mullins and Natalie Cowan at third base. “We may use Cowan at any of three positions because of her offense and speed,” says Tillery. Bryanna Swan, who is coming off surgery, and southpaw Megham Smith of Paola will also see action.
Three veterans could start in the outfield – LaTisha Thomas of Highland Park who hit a torrid .397 and stole 26 bases in 28 attempts in the leadoff position last season; Hannah Bishop, who hit .333 in 19 games; and Turner’s Kaylynn Stratton, who batted .327 in 42 games, mostly at third base. However, they have to hold off McKenzie Hersh, an all-region pick at Fort Scott last season, and Cowan. “Any combination of that group we play will be the fastest set of outfielders we’ve ever had,” says Tillery.
With the new all-weather turf, Tillery expects the defense to be a strength and speed should be outstanding. “We do have some power but we may also go to an unconventional lineup to use the short game to our advantage,” says Tillery, who is being assisted by Tiffany Jennings in her third season.
Kansas City Kansas Community College’s new softball complex boasts the only all-weather surface in the Jayhawk Conference. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)
Kacy Tillery got an early Christmas present for her Kansas City Kansas Community College softball team with the signing of pitcher Shannon Greene of McLouth.
A three-time all-state selection at McLouth, Greene is a transfer from Saint Mary University and will be eligible for the upcoming spring softball season, the first to be played on KCKCC’s new softball field, the first all-weather field in the Jayhawk Conference.
“I was pretty happy with the pitching staff we have but Shannon will be a great addition, plus she can swing the bat,” said Tillery. Greene will also be a candidate at first base when not pitching,
In her four years at McLouth, Greene set school records for 1) Most no-hitters – 10; 2) Perfect games – seven; 3) Career wins – 41 with 11 losses; and 4) Career strikeouts – 408 in 254 innings. She also finished with the third lowest career earned average of 1.43 per seven innings. In addition, she had a career batting average of .526 with 117 runs-batted-in and just 10 strikeouts in 241 times at bat.
An all-conference first team selection in each of her four years at McLouth, Greene was named to the first all-state team in 2015 and second team in 2014 and 2016. She was also named to the Lawrence Journal-World’s all-area softball team four times including twice on the first team.
In her sophomore year in 2014, McLouth won the regional championship and earned a place in the eight-team Kansas 2A state championship. The following year, Greene pitched McLouth to a repeat regional championship and third place in the Kansas 2A state tournament.
An outstanding student, Greene graduated No. 1 in her class with a 4.0 grade point average and was class co-valedictorian. A Gold Honor Roll student all four years and a National Honor Society her final three years, she was honored as a Kansas City Star Student-Athlete for 2015-16 and an honorable mention selection on the Topeka Capital-Journal’s 2016 Academic All-State Team.
Her non-athletic participation also included finishing second in forensics and third in dynamic planet categories in the State Science Olympiad; a third in the Regional High School Science Olympiad; and two years as editor of the yearbook.
Flanked by her parents, Charles and Kelly Greene, pitcher-first baseman Shannon Greene signed a letter of intent to play softball at Kansas City Kansas Community College this coming spring. (KCKCC Photo)
Approximately 75 former players were on hand Oct. 22 for the official opening of Kansas City Kansas Community College’s long-awaited new state-of-the-art softball complex.
Unified Government Mayor Marc Holland, KCKCC President Dr. Doris Givens and Board of Trustees Chairman Wendell Maddox cut the ceremonial ribbon as balloons filled the air before Mayor Holland threw out the first pitch.
“The opening could not have turned out better,” said KCKCC head softball coach Kacy Tillery and a former Blue Devil player. “It only seemed fitting that the grand opening should include former members of the Blue Devil family who played so many years on the old field and what better way to open the field than to have an alumni game following the ribbon-cutting.
“We were blessed with a fantastic day weather-wise and with about 75 former players and their family there to play and watch it made for a very special day. Our thanks to Dr. Givens, Vice-President Susan Lindahl, Tami Bartunek and Liz Williams of the Endowment Foundation and Athletic Director Tony Tompkins in helping make the game and grand opening so special. It was so much fun to see former players and in many cases, teammates with whom I played.”
Located at the south end of the campus at 8212 State Avenue, the new complex boasts the first all-weather field in the Jayhawk Conference. “It’s excited,” said Tillery. “It’s a field I’d put up with any in the state of Kansas and that includes the four-year schools like KU, Wichita State and Emporia State.”
Tillery said the artificial turf should all but eliminate games lost to inclement weather. “Last spring we had 14 doubleheaders either cancelled or postponed by the weather and probably upwards of 50 or more over the last three years. We’d have pools of water at home plate and first and third base. And that doesn’t approach the number of practices we lost because the field was not playable.”
One of the major changes was the rotation of the playing field with home plate facing in a southeasterly direction. “Home plate is adjacent to the concession stand which will give fans much better access to the rest rooms and concessions,” said Tillery. The rotation will also eliminate fielders on the right side of the infield having to look directly into the sun. “The new field will also be much safer. As it was, the infield was scary because you’d never know which direction a hard hit ground ball might go.”
Preliminary work on the complex began last October with the demolition of the old field with most of the major construction completed this summer. Artificial turf on the infield and outfield was laid by Field Turf while the Precision Co. built batting cages, put up fencing in the outfield, along the foul lines and behind home plate and donated a new scoreboard. Dugout, maintenance areas and a press box were constructed by the KCKCC Buildings and Grounds Division in conjunction with the Dr. Thomas R. Burke Technical Center.
Other changes include a warm-up area and three batting cages behind the third base dugout, a warm-up area for pitchers behind the visitor’s dugout and a limited amount of parking for the handicapped.
KCKCC Board of Trustees chairman Wendell Maddox (from left), KCKCC President Dr. Doris Givens and KCK Unified Government Mayor Marc Holland cut the ribbon to highlight festive opening ceremonies of KCKCC’s new softball complex Oct. 22. (KCKCC Photo by Jason Browar)
Unified Government Mayor Marc Holland delivered the ceremonial first pitch at the new KCKCC softball complex. (KCKCC Photo by Jason Browar)
Approximately 75 former Lady Blue Devil players were on hand for opening ceremonies and an alumni game, the first to be played on the new state-of-the-art softball complex.
Thanks to their sisters, Brittany Gustin and Mekayla Foskett are the recipients of the two top softball awards at Kansas City Kansas Community College for 2016.
A pitcher, Gustin was named the Most Valuable Player award while Foskett, an infielder, was voted the Justin Cothran “Life’s Tough, Get a Helmet” award, which is presented annually in memory of the former Blue Devil coach who passed away from cancer July 5, 2012.
“Makayla could not be more deserving,” said KCKCC Coach Kacy Tillery. “She’s the epitome of the kind of athlete Coach Cothran liked to coach. Hard worker, at practice every day, great teammate. A Pinnacle Academic All-American with a 4.0 grade point average. Started as a freshman but not start until towards the end of this season but never complained.”
Criteria for the Cothran award included a player should be “Hard-working, academically successful, tough player and person, outstanding work habits, incredible spirit for the game.” said Tillery: “Justin loved coaching the blue-collar, hard-workers, kids who may not have had all the talent in the world but worked harder than anyone on the field and in the classroom.”
Ironically, it was Foskett’s older sister, Jayme, who played for Cothran and Tillery, who recommended that Mekayla play at KCKCC after graduating from Leavenworth High School. “I was very grateful at being nominated,” said Foskett, who has applied to KCKCC’s nursing program for next year. In 18 games this spring, she batted .356.
Gustin also ended up at KCKCC because of a younger sister. A 2012 graduate of Raytown High School, she played one year at Butler Community College but then took a job and was out of softball for two years. “I wanted to play again but I didn’t know where to start. My sister, Mikayla Gustin, had signed here first and said I should come too.”
The ace of the pitching staff, Gustin had a 17-12 record with a 4.40 ERA which was made even more impressive by the fact that because of injuries, she was pitching both ends of doubleheaders. “It didn’t bother me, I just pushed through it,” said Gustin.
Even better, she got to hit. Normally pitchers do not hit but about a third of the way into the season Tillery kept her in the lineup fulltime and was well-rewarded. In 73 trips to the plate, Gustin hit a lusty .466 with four home runs and 23 RBI. “It was fun,” said Gustin. “I was surprised being off for two years to have done well. It was a fun season. I loved it here. A lot better than my first year.” Gustin, who is undecided about her softball and educational future, will complete work on her AA degree this summer.
A Leavenworth grad, Mekayla Foskett (left) is the recipient of the Justin Cothran “Life’s Tough, Get a Helmet” award while Raytown grad Brittany Gustin was voted the Most Valuable Player on the 2016 softball team at Kansas City Kansas Community College. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)
What a difference a year made for three Kansas City Kansas Community College softball sophomores.
Designated hitter Tiffany Killam was named to the All-Region VI first team for Division E and second team All-Jayhawk while first baseman Geena Harris and outfielder Morgan Oroke were both All-Region second team and honorable mention All-Jayhawk selections.
A .317 hitter with five home runs and 42 runs-batted-in as a freshman, Killam belted a record 16 home runs this team while hitting .455 with team highs in RBI with 49 and slugging with an .881 average. “Tiffany really worked hard all summer and fall on her swing,” said head coach Kacy Tillery. A Mortuary Science major from Waupun, Wis., Killam will serve as team manager next year while completing work on her degree.
A Tonganoxie graduate, Oroke hit .306 in 40 games last season before adding 127 points to her batting average this spring, hitting.427 with 25 RBI. “Morgan improved tremendously as a player and was without an error in conference play,” said Tillery
A Bonner Springs graduate, Harris played in only 15 games and hit .250 her freshman year at Neosho County before transferring to KCKCC where this spring she hit a blistering .436 and was second on the team in home runs with six and RBI with 44. Her home runs included a walk-off round tripper in a 3-2 win over Johnson County and the winning home run in a 4-3 win over league champion Highland. “She came here and really worked hard,” said Tillery.
Home run record-setter Tiffany Killam (left) was named to the All-Region softball first team and All-Jayhawk second team while Geena Harris (center) of Bonner Springs and Morgan Oroke of Tonganoxie were All-Region second team and All-Jayhawk honorable mention selections. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)
Rapping out 32 hits in two games, Kansas City Kansas Community College closed out regular season softball play with 15-7 and 11-0 wins over Cottey College at Steineger Field.
The sweeps sends the Lady Blue Devils (25-19) to Independence Saturday for the first two games of a best-of-three playoff series. Games will be played at 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday with a third game if necessary Sunday at 1 p.m.
Brittany Gustin (17-10) pitched a 5-hitter and struck out five in the 11-0 shutout after getting a save in the opener. Gustin also had a big day at the plate, driving in seven runs, two in the opener with a double off the top of the fence in her only plate appearance and then five runs in the nightcap on a 3-run home run, double and single.
Geena Harris drove in three runs with her sixth home run and two singles in the opener. Mekayla Foskett also had three hits including a double while Reagan Clough drove in three runs with a pair of doubles and Mekayla Guerrero and Tiffany Killam each singled and doubled.
After taking a 1-0 lead on a Foskett double and three walks in the first, the Blue Devils scored five runs in the second. Hannah Moore started the uprising with a double and scored on Serena Escobar’s triple. After a Guerrero single, Morgan Oroke doubled in a run and Harris drilled a 2-run home run.
Clough’s first double came in the fourth after singles by Killam and Harris; her second came in a 6-run fifth that also included singles by Kennedy Rasmussen and Harris and doubles by Killam and Gustin. The Blue Devils needed the big fifth inning after Cottey had closed to 8-7 on a grand slam home run in the fourth and a 2-run homer in the fifth. KCKCC then closed out the game in the sixth on a single by Foskett and triple by Guerrero.
The Blue Devils scored in bunches in the 11-0 nightcap. In addition to Gustin’s three hits and five RBI, Oroke had three hits and Foskett two.
After singles by LaTisha Thomas and Killam, Oroke, Harris and Gustin rapped run-scoring doubles in a 5-run first inning. Gustin’s 3-run home run was the big blow in a 4-run second inning and the Blue Devils plated three more runs in the fourth on five straight hits, singles by Oroke, Harris and Gustin and RBI doubles by Foskett and Savannah Dungen.
Thirteen sophomores were honored between games including seven starters – Tiffany Killam, Morgan Oroke, Geena Harris, Brittany Gustin, Mekayla Foskett, Savannah Dungan and Mekayla Guerrero. Others included parttime starters Elizabeth Seimears and Kennedy Rasmussen and reserves Serena Escobar, Reagan Clough, Hannah Moore and Lauren Johnson.
Thirteen Lady Blue Devils were honored at Sophomore Day Saturday. The honorees included (front row, from left) Mekaya Guerrero, Makayla Foskett, Savannah Dungan, Lauren Johnson, Elizabeth Seimears and Tiffany Killam; (standing) Serena Escobar, Morgan Oroke, Kennedy Rasmussen, Regan Clough, Bittany Gustin, Geena Harris and Hannah Moore. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)