KU softball players, former MHS standouts, talk to current ‘Dawgs
Before Kansas University softball games, during the playing of the national anthem, senior Jessica Moppin would count all the stars and all the stripes on the American flag.
The infielder then would picture herself fielding ground balls at second and hitting the ball to various places on the field.
It was a pregame ritual Moppin said helped calm her before ball games.
Last Thursday, Moppin and KU teammate Destiny Frankenstein spoke to the statebound McLouth High softball team.
MHS coach Ballard Patterson contacted Moppin about speaking to his players. Patterson coached competitive softball with Moppin's father.
The Bulldog coach wanted his players to hear some motivational speeches during a pizza dinner sponsored by the booster club.
Frankenstein gave MHS players tips on pre-game rituals.
"If you like to dance, dance," Frankenstein said. "If you like to be by yourself, be by yourself."
Former McLouth standout Jim Perry, who played on two state runner-up teams in 1978 and 1980, spoke to the MHS players. Courtney Edmonds, who won the 800 in Class 2A at the state track meet in 2001 and 2002, also spoke to the team. She now plays basketball at Benedictine College in Atchison.
"If you don't go out and give it your all, I'm going to kick your butt," Edmonds told the MHS players.
Perry told the players that there are things he could have done differently when he played in the playoffs. He urged the current players to play as hard as possible and be smart on the field.
"I'm 45 and to this day I still catch myself saying, 'what if," Perry said.
Perry also told the players how special competing at state could be.
"This could be the best time of your life," Perry said. "It's the best age of your life. I know it was the best age of my life."
Moppin and Frankenstein spoke to the players about never giving up, and remembering that everyone goes through ups and downs.
This year, the two seniors went through a rollercoaster season. At some points during the campaign, the Jayhawks hovered around .500. Then came a game against Missouri in which the team suffered an embarrassing loss.
KU coach Tracy Bunge made the team run extensively after that loss. Players also held a meeting to discuss how to turn things around.
That they did.
Kansas, which entered the Big 12 Conference tournament as a No. 6 seed, went through the tourney unscathed and won its first Big 12 crown. The Jayhawks went on to play in the NCAA Tournament.
Frankenstein also urged McLouth players to eat right before games.
"Eat your vegetables," she said. "Don't eat McDonald's."
They also discussed this year's season.
"A lot of tears, a lot of laughter," Moppin said about the softball year.
"A lot of running," Frankenstein added.
The collegiate players also signed KU softball posters for the players.
MHS softball player Lezley Lawson said she appreciated the event.
"I really liked how they had a lot of motivational speeches," Lawson said. "It kind of got my mindset ready for the game."
Patterson told players that Moppin would come to their championship game if they advanced to it, but the Bulldogs fell short in a heartbreaker, 1-0, to Herington/White City in the Class 2A quarterfinals.