Summer team ‘thrilled’ to be playing
It has been an up and down summer for the Thrillers, a local 18-and-Under summer softball team comprised of players from Bonner Springs High School and Basehor-Linwood High School.
But just because the wins haven't come with much consistency doesn't mean the Thrillers aren't having fun. Fun is the one thing that has been consistent with the team as it prepares for its final tournament of the summer, next week's national event in Johnson County.
First-year coach Neil Wachter said his team's main goal each week is to improve. If they manage to do that and have fun, it's bonus.
"It's kind of been different from week to week," Wachter said. "But the one thing we always try to do is go out there and have fun. That's really what we're all about."
Fun, not wins, is so important to Wachter and the rest of the Thrillers that he said he didn't even know their overall record.
What Wachter does know is that last weekend at the regional tournament his team went undefeated in pool play before losing in the second round of the single-elimination that followed. Their efforts earned the Thrillers a tie for third place and a berth in the national tourney.
"The girls just came out to play this weekend," Wachter said. "Everybody was real focused and real intense and we picked up some wins."
Kristy Holt, one of the team's top pitchers and the ace of the BSHS staff, said the team worked hard to rededicate itself the week before the regional tournament. With three wins in four games, it's clear the work paid off.
"We've been practicing a lot more recently and we've really been more dedicated," Holt said. "It's always a lot of fun no matter what, but it's definitely more fun to win."
Several Thrillers, including Holt, could still be playing in the 16-and-Under league, but Holt said she's glad the girls decided to step up and play at a higher level.
Shortstop Holly Miller, also a Bravette, agreed with Holt and said the experience from the more competitive league should only help the high school team next spring.
"It's good we're playing in the tougher league because we're facing some great competition and really getting a feel for what varsity softball is like," Miller said. "It's definitely better to be playing this competition than to not be playing at all."
Miller and Holt are two of four Bravettes who played for the BSHS high school team this season. Outfielders Ashley Pardew and Chase Crouch are the other Bravettes.
Three players from the Lady Bobcats' 2002 team are also on the squad and for them, the name of the game is the same have fun first.
"Everybody gets excited and everybody just has fun," Ross said. "There's not as much pressure as there is during the high school season."
Ross is joined on the Thrillers by senior Cristin Burnett and junior Terra Nichols. The trio of Lady Cats has played together for several seasons now and Ross said that makes a difference in them fitting in with players they don't normally play with.
"We've been together for ever and we know each other so well," Ross said. "We know when each other's mad and we know how to help each other out in certain situations. That makes it a lot of fun, too."
During the high school season, the Bobcats and Bravettes are intense rivals, but Ross said playing together in the summer has been a blast.
"We get along real well and we all just have fun," she said.
Ross added that every now and then she keeps an extra eye on what the Bonner Springs players do, so she can have the upper hand when they face off next season, but she said that's all in good fun.