Archive for Thursday, March 22, 2007

Softball team hopes to build on successful 2006

March 22, 2007

The 2006 Eudora softball season was one for the record books. Although they lost to Piper in the second round of the 4A regional tournament, the Cardinals went 16-6 for the season.

Coach Cara Kimberlin said it was hard not to let the Piper loss overshadow the accomplishments of the whole season. Piper entered the game with guns blazing, scoring four runs in the first inning. Eudora was shocked, like deer in headlights, and never recovered.

"I'm not so sure our kids didn't overlook Piper a little bit," Kimberlin said. "They were really focused on Tonganoxie in that tournament. We talked to them about taking care of Piper first. We just panicked and swung at everything trying to catch up."

Individual athletes on the team also had stellar seasons, especially the four 2006 graduates. The graduates had each been playing at the varsity level for at least two seasons, which makes replacing them difficult.

Now, with practices having begun, the reconstruction begins.

Kimberlin said although there would be some growing pains, she expected the team to be as competitive as it has been in previous years.

"We have 12 freshmen, so there's a lot of learning going on," Kimberlin said. "We've started the process of filling positions, but we're still looking. We have been platooning people in different positions to get kids some spots they have never been in before. What it may come down to is who has a hot bat."

Perhaps what makes the preseason practices so difficult is that no positions are set, unlike past seasons. Kimberlin said it made things difficult for the team, at least in the early part of the season.

"I don't know what I'm going to do right now," Kimberlin said. "For the most part, we have some good arms and speed in the outfield. But we have a couple of outfielders that could move to the infield. I'm glad I have two more weeks to make these decisions," she said last week.

In addition to moving the girls around, Kimberlin said the first few weeks would be dedicated to just focusing on the fundamentals of the game -- nothing too complex.

However, Kimberlin said stressing those fundamentals was much easier now that the girls had a dry place to practice. Because of the snow last month, the ground was too wet to play on. Practices had to be held indoors, which made things difficult for Eudora to have effective practices.

Kimberlin said she expected the season to mirror last year's as far as competitive play goes. Because of that, she said she had the same goals for the team as she did last season.

"We want to win the Frontier League -- that's always a goal and one the kids have also," she said. "My goal is to finish up with a winning record, and then to be in the top four of regionals.

"Despite replacing key players, we're pretty deep defensively. We're ready to go."

The team travels Monday to Paola for its season opener. The varsity game begins at 4:30 p.m.

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