Swingin’ into spring
Softball season arrives at Basehor-Linwood
The starting lineup for the Basehor-Linwood softball team this year is likely to be made up of three seniors, one junior, three sophomores and two freshmen.
With a group that balanced and diverse, it's unlikely that any divisions or cliques will emerge, which is just the way coach Susan Mayberry likes it.
"We really focus on the team concept, we don't want to hold anyone up as stars above the rest of the team," Mayberry said. "Team chemistry is very important to us."
Mayberry said that chemistry had to be reformed each year, even if the team had key players returning, as the Lady 'Cats do this year.
Terra Nichols is returning for her fourth year on the varsity squad, providing an experienced presence at the plate and in center field.
She's joined by fellow seniors Chelsea Flowers and Nicole Kirk, both of whom already have one full year of varsity play behind them.
Flowers will anchor the infield at third base; and Kirk returns as the catcher, where Mayberry said her experience would prove valuable.
"Catchers run the team, and that's what we're counting on her to do," Mayberry said. "She's had a good preseason. She'll hold her own."
Kirk said her game developed last year and that she was ready to step in to her role as a leader this year.
"I learned to be more confident last year," Kirk said. "I learned how to take charge, make sure everyone knows what's going on."
Though she's not uncomfortable hitting, Kirk said she preferred her role behind the plate.
"I can control everything I do there," Kirk explained. "At the plate I can't control what their pitcher's going to do."
In most of the Lady 'Cats' games this year Kirk will be catching sophomore Kristal Holland, who took over the majority of the team's pitching duties partway through last season and is projected to be the ace this year. Kirk said the two of them worked well together last year and were looking to build on that success.
Kirk and Holland look to play key roles this year, but it will take a team effort for the Lady 'Cats to be successful in league play.
Mayberry said she was expecting strong competition from Piper, Santa Fe Trail, Mill Valley and Bonner Springs.
She added that there was always a chance that other teams could emerge as powers if they had talented freshmen come up and contribute at key positions, like pitcher.
Mayberry said that the Kaw Valley League had a tradition of strong softball, but that Basehor-Linwood's program was a big part of that tradition, she said. The team should be competitive, even if it is fairly young.
Of the 25 girls in the softball program, 13 are freshmen.
"We're really focusing on fundamentals right now, because we do have a young group," Mayberry said. "But I think we'll be right up there with everyone else."
Mayberry said her coaching style was to break the season up into three parts.
During the first third of the season, the focus will be on individual skills and fundamentals.
The second third will focus on team strategies, and in the final third the challenge will be to put everything together for the playoff run.
Kirk said she wanted her final season to be one that left a legacy for the younger players to follow.
"Obviously one of our goals is a successful season with lots of wins, and hopefully they can learn something from this year," Kirk said.
Mayberry was reluctant to try and predict where the Lady 'Cats would finish, saying that she preferred to take it one practice at a time and continue drilling them on their fundamentals.
The team will get its first chance to test out those fundamentals in the season opener at Blue Valley Northwest.
The game is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31.