Hitting hurts Lunatics at World Series
The Lunatics softball team started strong in pool play at the 18-and-under USSSA World Series, but it was unable to maintain that momentum during the bracket portion of the tournament.
As a result, the Lunatics returned home from Mid-America West Sports Complex empty-handed.
"We'd hoped to go a little further, but there's some tough teams down there," Lunatics coach Terry Denney said. "We had hoped we would've finished in the top 10. Defensive-wise we were as good, if not better, than everyone out there. The batting is what killed us."
In many ways, the Lunatics' performance at the World Series was a mirror image of their effort at the American Fastpitch Association National Tournament a week earlier in Lawrence. At both tournaments they were paired against top-ranked teams during pool play. At both tournaments the Lunatics won those games. Then, when bracket play arrived they were unable to generate enough offense to advance.
The Lunatics (33-19) opened pool play at the World Series by earning a 5-4 victory against the top-ranked team in Nebraska, the Lincoln Magic, who eventually placed third at the World Series. Later the Lunatics beat the top team from Missouri, Sudden Impact, by an 8-5 score.
The Lunatics earned a No. 1 seed in the bracket tournament and received a first-round bye, but that did them no good. They lost their opener 8-2 against KC Eclipse and were bounced to the loser's bracket. There, they beat the Geneva Sliders 2-0 before dropping a 1-0 decision to Cooper Armstrong (Minn.) Gators.
The loss ended the Lunatics' season, but Denney said he wasn't disappointed with the way his squad's summer finished.
"I think we had a great season, I really do," he said. "There was a lot of success. Last year we may have had five wins. This year we had 33. It's really been unbelievable improvement."
Denney said in a few weeks the team would have tryouts, and then begin a brief fall tournament schedule that would serve as a tune-up for next year. The Lunatics will have a few spots to fill because they'll lose pitcher Abby Mears, Rachael Schulteis, Heather Garza and Katie Thompson. Key returnees will be Kasey Denney, Shae Salawich, Laura Anderson, Katie Mikulan and Chelsey Grant.
"We'll play maybe three or four tournaments in the fall and then we're going to move up to the A division," Terry Denney said. "The rest of it will just be getting ready for next summer. I can't wait. I was excited for this summer, and I'm even more excited for next summer."