Freshman lands on All-State first team
Kansas coaches overlook KVL snub, honor Milnark
Terry Cornett has a firm handshake and a hearty "thank you" ready to give out, but he doesn't know who to share it with.
The Lansing High softball coach would like to know who nominated LHS freshman Rachel Milnark for the Class 5A All-State softball team, and he'd like to thank them personally for their vote landed Milnark on the first team as a utility player.
"I'm happy for her. She's very deserving," Cornett said. "I just wish I knew who did it, because I'd really like to thank 'em.
"She's probably the first All-State softball player Lansing's every had, I would suspect. I've been in softball for 14 years, and I've never heard anybody get close to that."
The Kansas Softball Coaches Association has been a tough organization for coaches to crack. It's not well publicized, doesn't have its own Web site and doesn't have a steady line of communication with all of the coaches in the state.
The organization always has been a mystery to Cornett, but he said he was thrilled that somebody who saw Milnark play had ties to the KSCA and lobbied for her.
Cornett suspects the Mill Valley coach may have had something to do with it considering Milnark slugged a solo home run and had four RBI in one game against the Jaguars. She later pitched the Lions to a second victory to sweep the series.
Another possibility is that the Topeka Seaman coach voted for Milnark. Seaman claimed a 2-1 victory over LHS in the regional championship game, but Milnark scored the Lions' lone run.
Regardless of who voted for Milnark, Cornett said "it was nice that somebody recognized her for her ability.
Cornett also was happy about Milnark's All-State nod after the Kaw Valley League coaches only deemed her worthy of second-team status. He thought the snub was undeserving considering she was the top hitter in the league with a .481 batting average. She had 39 hits, 29 RBI, 12 doubles, three triples, four home runs and a stunning .873 slugging percentage.
Oh, and she also played in the field.
"She played any position you wanted her to," Cornett said. "She played short, first, she pitched, caught : I know she could play outfield and third. I'd like to have a few more freshmen like that, but you can't be greedy."
Milnark was surprised by the honor, but she took it in stride.
"I wasn't expecting anything because I'm just a freshman," she said. "I was excited and everything, but my parents were more excited than I was, I guess you could say."
The success of her freshman campaign also has led Milnark to reconsider playing softball year-round. After taking last summer and this summer off from softball, she said she plans to play club softball again this fall if she can play in an 18-and-under league that would provide more college exposure.