Samuels perfect in softball debut
Two up, two down.
It wasn't a perfect season-opening doubleheader for the Tonganoxie softball team, but a look in the score book had to leave new coach Merri Samuels with a warm, fuzzy feeling on a chilly night in Tonganoxie.
The Chieftains dropped Atchison, 6-0, and then Jeff West, 9-0, on opening day Thursday at the TRC softball complex.
"I was very pleased," Samuels said after THS shut out both its opponents. "We definitely had errors, but everyone covered each other, which was nice."
Against Jeff West in the second game, the Chieftains appeared early on to be in a tight game.
The Chieftains got on the board early thanks to a wild pitch, but held that 1-0 lead through 3 1/2 innings.
In the bottom of the fourth, junior Addie Heim reached on an error and senior Sarah Holliday walked before freshman Amie Riddle padded the thin cushion with a hard hit to left.
The spark ignited Tonganoxie as the Chieftains scored three in that inning. They then scored in each of the next two innings for the commanding victory.
"I kept telling them to hit it hard," Samuels said.
With only nine players on the roster on Monday, Samuels was short-handed, but the small lineup didn't seem to effect the Chieftains on Thursday.
Samuels had to juggle the roster a bit, including putting Riddle at third base for Jessica Bogard.
Senior Katie Jeannin put two more shutouts on her pitching resume, while other seniors also shined in the first doubleheader of the season.
"Katie pitched really well," Samuels said. "Mollie McCaffrey played good defense and had good hits."
The coach also saw some brights spots with other players, such as junior Addie Heim and senior Michelle McWilliams with their bats.
Tonganoxie will be back in action at 4:30 p.m. Thursday when the Chieftains take on Basehor-Linwood in Basehor in the first Kaw Valley League doubleheader of the season.
Samuels will return to face her mentor in that doubleheader. Samuels served on BLHS coach Susan Mayberry's staff for five years before becoming an assistant at Tonganoxie.
Now a head coach herself, Samuels will be in the opposite dugout against a team with seniors whom Samuels coached when they were freshmen.
Many coaching aspects Samuels implements came from assisting Mayberry for so long.
And although she faced Mayberry as an assistant the last two years, it still will be a different situation going head coach vs. head coach.
"It will be bittersweet," Samuels said.