Quick end doesn’t diminish season
The 2006 Cardinal softball season ended abruptly at the hands of Kansas City Piper in the 4A sub-state regional tournament. But as the softball team went home on that day in late May, there were many things to be proud of in the season that passed.
Eudora's 16-6 year proved to be a four-game improvement over what was at times a rocky 2005 campaign.
"We really had a pretty good season," Eudora coach Cara Kimberlin said. "We hit well and once we started playing, we got rolling. But it was frustrating losing with a team that I thought had the best chance of moving on we've had in a long time."
The Piper loss overshadowed a season which saw the Cardinals excel offensively, while getting vital senior leadership from numerous areas.
Eudora's offense improved over the season as the team batted .370 (as opposed to .254 for 2005), while cranking out 57 extra-base hits, 21 better than a year ago.
The offensive boost led the Cardinals to some of their more lopsided wins in recent years, including a 35-run outburst in a doubleheader at Wellsville.
Individually the Cardinals benefited from the senior leadership of third baseman Kelsey Epperson, who dominated in numerous categories batting in the number-two position.
The senior, who was named to the All-League honorable mention list, led the team in a number of areas, including hits (35) and batting average (.473).
Senior Karen Spence helped propel Eudora on the mound in 2006 by compiling an 8-2 record to go along with an earned run average of 2.08.
More importantly to many coaches, the senior left-hander struck out 43 batters, while walking just 17.
"It's always nice to have a ratio like that," Kimberlin said. "Those kind of numbers will please a lot of coaches."
Aside from the top influence from a team with plenty of seniors, the Cardinals benefited from the contributions by a number of underclassmen as well.
Sophomore Mackenzie Salzman added to the improved Cardinal offense by leading the team in doubles with 13 and having one of the team's two home runs.
Brynn Hamilton helped Spence on the mound by striking out a team-leading 72 batters in 2006. The junior added some offense to the mix with seven doubles.
The help from the underclassmen will prove to be invaluable to the Cardinals as they lose a number of players to graduation.
"This is going to be the toughest class to replace," Kimberlin said. "I'm losing my entire infield and there's a possibility I'll have to replace them with my outfield."
Along with the likes of Spence and Epperson the Cardinals lose the services of shortstop and team defensive player of the year Michelle Deluna, who committed a team-low two errors on the year.
Freshman Bailey Scott, who contributed as the team's leadoff hitter, may get an opportunity to move into the infield from her 2006 spot in right field.
The Cardinals also finished off the year with a number of awards to complement the overall improvement.
Deluna joined Epperson as an honorable mention for first-team all-league, while junior Caitlyn Riser was named to the first-team at second base.