Softball practices bode well for team’s season
The Tonganoxie High School Softball team will finish in the top half of the Kaw Valley League if it plays well.
Coach Mark Mall has been coaching the Chieftains since they started playing softball 10 seasons ago. He said he's been surprised by what he's seen in practice so far. The girls are playing better than he expected, he said.
"We've got a pretty strong league," Mall said.
Last year was the first time no team from the league finished first or second at the state level, but that doesn't mean they aren't still tough.
Santa Fe Trail has always been a strong league contender. DeSoto returns a pitcher who has been a two-year starter. Basehor-Linwood is returning both its pitcher and catcher.
And while those three teams should compete for the league title, Mall said he hopes to see the Cheiftains right behind them.
"Our goal is to finish in the top half," Mall said.
Five starters and seven letter winners return for the Chieftains. Sammy Schiltz, who Mall said has worked to improve during the off season, will be the Chieftains top pitcher.
Deaven Workman will catch. Workman is a senior and has been all Kaw Valley League twice before. She has started every game for Tonganoxie since her first game as freshman.
Jenny Crain plays centerfield. The senior was all-league last season.
Sophomore Sarah Subelka played in leftfield last season and should be in the outfield again.
Jeannie Bundy, a sophomore transfer from Prairie View, is tentatively penciled in at short stop. Leslie Starcher, second base, Kristin Korb, third base, Kim Newton, third/first, and Heather Beach, second/outfield, are also potential starters for the Chieftains.
Team went 2-2 in 1-0 games last season, indicating to Mall that the team's pitching and defense has improved to the point that it should be for Tonganoxie to be competitive.
Tonganoxie doesn't put a temporary fence in the outfield.
Because the field fences are at 270 feet, Tonganoxie has been able to showcase good fielding in the outfield and had its share of all-league players from the outfield.