Holland an easy choice for athlete of the year award
There was really no other choice for female Athlete of the Year at Basehor-Linwood this year besides Kristal Holland, almost literally.
Holland was one of just two senior girls to compete in any sport for BLHS this year. Although softball was the only sport Holland participated in, she was such a huge part of that program that it made her a shoo-in for the award.
In four years of varsity softball Holland was the starting pitcher in every game but six. Her incredible stamina as a workhorse on the mound left her the school's all-time leader in many pitching categories. Holland was also the team captain the last two seasons and, in that time, the Lady Bobcats relied on her so heavily it will be hard to imagine the squad without her.
"Definitely she's made the biggest impact on her team," BLHS coach Susan Mayberry said. "Any time that an athlete has that kind of impact, she's the center, the spotlight."
Holland has definitely been in the spotlight the last couple years, in a career that included a trip to the state tournament and two perfect games. Along the way she became the Bobcats' career leader in innings pitched (543) batters faced (2033) and strikeouts (605). She ended up second only to current Emporia State star Courtney Reed in career wins (43), no-hitters (2) and shutouts (15). Her career batting average, .343, was good enough for third all-time at the school.
The senior right hander will take her game to Central Missouri State next year, but she's likely to be remembered for a while within the BLHS softball program.
"Hopefully everybody just remembers me as a good player altogether," Holland said. "Just a strong player and a good leader."
Holland had to be a good leader because, for her last two years, she was the only veteran on a couple very young teams. For some reason, along the way in her high school journey, almost all the other girls in her class stepped away from sports. While the other sports were left senior-less this year, the softball team at least still had Holland there to steer the ship.
"We used to have to a lot of girls (from her grade) and every year we'd lose more and more," Holland said. "I don't know what happened."
While other girls dropped out Holland stuck with softball, adding more to her game each year through hard work and persistence. Her work paid off in her junior year when she led the team to the state tournament and was named all-state. Her senior year ended in disappointment, but it was through no fault of hers; Holland only seemed to get better as the season went on.
"The last two years she really became an all-around player as far as defense, offense and pitching," Mayberry said. "I told her the other day I think she's just scratching the surface of her potential. It's been a fast four years, as it always is, but we're really proud of her."
Holland, for her part, is ready to move on and test the college waters. She said she knew all her hard work had paid off, not only because she was named Athlete of the Year, but also because she earned a softball scholarship.
"I'm getting to go to college and getting part of it paid for because I worked hard," she said. "I still get to do softball and I get the academic part too."