Lady Bobcats look for return to winning ways
Susan Mayberry experienced something new last year as Basehor-Linwood's head softball coach, but it is something she'd rather not experience again.
Since Mayberry arrived in 1998, the Bobcats never had a losing record until last year. Last year's team had an 8-13 record, and Mayberry wants to return to the team's winning ways.
She likes her team's chances of accomplishing that goal.
"We have great team chemistry, something we missed a little bit of last year," Mayberry said. "It's just a good mix of personalities. We have great leadership with our seniors, and down through our freshmen, we have good work ethic."
Mayberry is not certain how much the Bobcats will improve from last year, but she said it will be as much as they want.
"Every softball team wants to be state champions," Mayberry said. "But we're not going to approach it that way. We'll take it one game at a time. Right now, we're focused on Blue Valley Northwest (season opener, Monday, April 1)."
On paper, Basehor-Linwood does not appear to have an abundance of depth, but Mayberry said she likes the players on the team and their attitudes.
Four letter winners return from last year's team. Three seniors are on the team, but only seniors Cristin Burnett and Abby Ross played last year.
Burnett and Ross lettered last year along with juniors Terra Nichols and Sara Wohletz.
"I'm looking forward to the year," Mayberry said. "I'm excited. The girls are really excited, and they have good chemistry.
"They're playing like they're experienced. I'm confident we'll compete at regionals," she said. "We can compete with anybody, but we have to show up and play everyday. We won't be a team that can make a lot of mistakes."
Mayberry plans to travel with only ten players, and those players have yet to earn their spots, she said. A lineup is taking shape, but nothing is set.
"This is only our second day on the field. We haven't really been on the field yet, so nobody has a certain spot yet," Mayberry said.
The Bobcats have solidified their infield to some extent. Mayberry said she has players making strong cases for each position.
As a senior on the team, Burnett has the most experience and will be a leader. She is a three-year letterman and will likely be at shortstop.
Second base is more up for grabs, but freshman Morgan Hale has made a strong run at it. Mayberry said Burnett and Hale could be a good combination in the middle of the infield.
Another freshman could stand next to Hale. Freshman Kristal Holland will likely see action at first base.
Holland is in competition with senior Sarah Aldridge. Aldridge played as a sophomore but sat out last year. She has worked at first base and might be a designated hitter.
Junior Chelsea Flowers will likely be a starter this year. She played some varsity last year, but will make a big contribution this year.
Flowers is the leading candidate for third base.
Junior Nicole Kirk is battling for the catcher position. She could also have designated hitter duties.
The outfield is more up for grabs than the infield. Mayberry only has two outfielders in her plans and has to find a third before the first game.
"Our outfield is not outstanding right now, but in time we'll see things," Mayberry said. "Right now, we need a right and left fielder to step up."
Nichols will have the most experience in the outfield. She is a two-year letterman, and with her quickness will most likely be in centerfield.
With Nichols patrolling the middle of the outfield, the Bobcats will need two more outfielders on each side of her.
One of those will be Wohletz. She is a one of the four returning lettermen and will play either right or left field.
Unlike baseball, softball teams use fewer pitchers. Because the underhand motion is a more natural than baseball's overhand pitch, it causes less stress on the arm, and one can pitch more.
The Bobcats will put most of the pitching duties on Ross. Ross is a two-year letterman and has experience pitching.
Last year, she had to pitch because of an injury, and Mayberry said she is ready to pick up the pitching duties again.
Holland will also see time pitching. While she is only a freshman, Mayberry said she thinks Holland has the ability to pitch at a varsity level.