Softball hopes for return to state
The Eudora softball team hopes to finish the season exactly where it did two years ago in the state championship game. But coach Cara Kimberlin isn’t looking that far ahead just yet.
“My thing right now is we want to come out the first game and win that first doubleheader and just go from there,” Kimberlin said.
Kimberlin’s team opens it season at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in a doubleheader at Gardner. The Cardinals return two seniors, pitcher Miranda Cobell and shortstop Bailey Scott. The Cardinals also return juniors Madison Oller and all-state catcher Evan Folks. Folks said she thought the team could make a run at the state title this year.
“I think we’ll do pretty good,” Folks said. “We just have to stay focused and play our game. We have to just have a good season and play as a team. If we do that, everything will fall into place for us.”
During the first few weeks of spring practice, however, the team has been besieged by various distractions. The weather hasn’t been too cooperative, the squad didn’t have its full roster until late because seven girls were on the basketball team, then there was spring break, and many of the players were involved with dance and cheer, preparing for prom, the school play and one player had pink eye. That might sound like a lot, but Kimberlin said that was pretty typical with the spring season.
This spring, the Cardinals hope to get contributions from players who spent last year on the junior varsity squad, including junior Abbey Mott. Mott could log time at either third or first base. The Cardinals also return sophomores Allie Johnson and Chelsea Grammer who were starting outfielders as freshman.
Kimberlin said the lineup might come down to the nine people who were hitting the ball the best, which could cause some players being moved around in the field a little. Kimberlin added that though there could be some switching around on the field, the pitchers would be the key.
“Obviously it starts with the pitcher,” she said. “We’re not going to have one who will dominate anybody. Our pitchers will have to change speeds and hit spots and don’t hang the ball in the middle of the plate. My biggest thing with pitchers is don’t walk people because you can’t get them out if you walk them. Let your seven people behind you do their jobs. Let them work for you.”
Kimberlin said it would be important for her squad to take advantage of other team’s mistakes, such as advancing on a ball in the dirt. She added that the team needed to minimize its own mistakes and not give the opponent any extra bases.
“If a ball gets past the catcher, they’re going to take a base easily,” she said. “The bags are only 60 feet apart, and it doesn’t take long to get from one to the other.”
Last year, the softball team finished 11-9 and lost in the first round of regionals. Kimberlin said the league would be tough once again this spring.
“Every team in the league is competitive and some of the teams that have been down in the past are making improvements and getting better and better,” she said.
After Gardner, Eudora will play Tuesday at Paola. The Cardinals’ home opener is against Anderson County on April 9.