Roller coaster season
Inconsistencies plague Eudora softball team one year after second place finish at state
The goal of winning championships will never change, but after a disappointing season that saw it exit in the first round of regionals, Eudora's softball team will have to replace five members off this year's 11-9 team to live up to the Cardinals' expectations.
"Anytime you aren't as successful as you expect to be it is tough," coach Cara Kimberlin said. "We always come into a season with the highest of expectations and this year was no different."
One year after finishing second in class 4A, the Cardinals faced a difficult task in trying to replace all-state pitcher Brynn Hamilton and all-state infielder Caitlyn Riser. To try and make up for the loss, two-time all-state center fielder Mackenzie Salzman was moved to the mound.
The senior's transition was an up-and-down affair all season. In some games she seemed like a lifelong pitcher, yet other times Salzman looked like the pitching newcomer she was.
However, inconsistency wasn't restricted to the mound. In fact, the team's ability, or lack thereof, to get timely hits haunted the Cards throughout the year.
"We just really struggled to come together as a team," Kimberlin said. "This is a great group of girls that for the most part try to do what we asked them to do, but in the end perhaps it just came down to softball skills and understanding of the game and situations."
Things were topsy-turvy from the beginning of the season. Eudora opened its 2008 campaign with a pair of home double-headers, sweeping Gardner Edgerton and then getting swept by Paola.
After the Paola games, Kimberlin said, "Honestly, we didn't come out to play today."
That was a feeling that she experienced several times throughout the year, and it's one of the main reasons she described the season as "disappointing."
Another reason for that description was that the Cards played exceptionally well at times, making the games in which they played poorly even more difficult to stomach.
Salzman and fellow senior Theresa Harper led the offense on most nights and that production will be difficult to replace. Also graduating are Chelsea Carnagie, Kayci Vickers and Kaitlyn Werst, each of whom made significant contributions in their years on the team.
"The last loss of the season is always tough, especially for the five seniors," Kimberlin said. "This is it for them, they have worn a Eudora uniform for the last time, and they know that."
Sophomore Evan Folks, a 2007 all-state selection, was a solid defender behind the plate as well as a hitter next to it, and she'll be depended on even more in 2009. Also returning with significant starting experience are freshmen Chelsea Grammer and Allie Johnson, sophomore Madison Oller and juniors Miranda Cobell and Bailey Scott.
Like Folks, Cobell will have a lot of responsibility on her shoulders next season as the top-returning pitcher. She had several strong outings this past season. She pitched well in the first round of sub-state, giving up one earned run yet taking the loss in a 3-2 ballgame.
The biggest key to returning from a disappointing season like the 2008 campaign, Kimberlin said, is to take the lessons learned from setbacks and apply them rather than hide from them.
"Hopefully that is what we will do and we will come out next spring and go after another season," Kimberlin said.