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January 1, 2014

2014 Preseason Softball

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One year removed from one of the top pre-season teams ever for Kansas softball, and not a lot has changed in that year's time.

Given the fact that all of our starting lineup from last year's preseason team return for this season, and that several players came into their own over the course of the season, The majority of last year's starting nine remains the same, and it is once again, a very good one. They will be pushed to perform during the season by a large group of improving players in the state however.

Our starting nine as we see it would include:

Emily Griggs from Maize High School is again our leadoff hitter this season. Griggs is a three time Hovpen All-State player and has signed with LSU for her freshman year of college. As a junior, Griggs hit 688 for the Eagles who have been to the state tournament in each of her three seasons so far. In addition to her All State honors, Griggs has been selected as a two time National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-South Central Region player and was named to the Maxpreps underclass All-American Team. In addition, Emily has played in the Triple Crown All American game and is ranked 34th overall by Student Sports Magazine and is in the top five ranked outfielders nationally. Griggs plays with the Mustang Academy, currently ranked eighth nationally.

"Emily comes to us from one of the premier travel ball programs in the country," LSU coach Beth Torina said in her signing press release. "There's no doubt she will be ready to take the field as soon as she arrives in Baton Rouge. She is a highly recruited and extremely talented player that will be a mainstay in the top of our lineup for years to come."

Batting second is Olathe Northwest senior and future University of Kansas middle infielder Mikayla Warren who is a two time All-State player in Kansas. As a freshman, Warren helped Northwest to a state Class 6A title, hitting .527 with 15 stolen bases. Her junior season, she upped her slugging percentage to a record .865 and also set a new team record for stolen bases with 29. Up to her junior season, she played for the KC Zephyrs then with a coaching move to a college program, moved to play for Team Kansas Gold.

Back to back in the lineup, one of these two should get on base every time through the lineup and will set up our next three hitters for some kind of RBI club and these next three can drive in some runs.

We stay with the University of Kansas with their signee Morgan Bohanan of Goddard as our No. 3 hitter with Bohanan being a three time All State selection as well as the 2013 AVCTL Player of the year as selected by the coaches. As a freshman, Bohanan helped her team achieve a third place title in the Class 6A tournament. Bohanan currently plays for the Tulsa Elite and just might be a part of an infield this season at Goddard which will see three future Division I players as two others on the team are among the top 50 players ranked in their class nationwide. Bohanan can and has played every position in the infield at some point in her life. Bohanan owns slugging percentage, doubles (15), average (629), and tied the home run record (hitting on a 230 foot fence at home) at Goddard.

Hitting in the cleanup position is future Notre Dame Catcher Maddie McCracken who is also a two time All-State player from Olathe North. McCracken may be a two time All-State Kansas player, but is only in her junior season at North and will have one more year and could possibly be a four timer. McCracken was named as an All-American after her freshman season by the national coaches association. McCracken was one of three catchers in the country named by MaxPreps to their all-American team and the only sophomore. Notre Dame Coaches of course, can not comment on McCracken since she has not signed her letter of intent yet. Her sophomore season for North, she hit .491 with seven doubles and six home runs of which three were grand slams. Only seven runners attempted to steal on McCracken and only one made it. Plays summer ball with the KC Peppers team which is ranked in the top 20 in the nation.

We stay inside the Sunflower League for our No. 5 hitter which is two time Gatorade Player of the Year Allison Stewart from Olathe East who will not only hit in the 5-hole for us, but will be our starting pitcher as well. Stewart is also a three time All-State player as well as receiving All-American status as well. As a junior state champion for Olathe East last season, Stewart had a 0.39 ERA on the mound while hitting .487 at the plate with 12 doubles and two home runs. In her 90 1/3 innings she recorded 164 strike outs while giving up only two walks. Student Sports ranks Stewart as the No. 73 player in the country overall and she is headed to the University of Arkansas for her college career. Stewart also plays summer ball with the nationally ranked KC Peppers.

Brittany Finney who played last year for Maize is our No. six hitter and will hold down first base in the infield. The right hander would also be one of our relief pitchers along with the girl who follows her in the lineup. As a sophomore for Maize, Finney hit .461 with six doubles, three triples and four home runs. On the mound, she acquired a 0.86 earned run average while her opponents had a .198 batting average against her. Finney is a two time All-State player in Kansas as are most of the starters on this team. As a freshman for 4A Wamego, she posted a 20-1 record on the mound before transferring to Maize for her sophomore season. Finney played in the Triple Crown All-American game before her sophomore season with the Wichita Mustangs. Plays summer ball with the California Explosion and is committed to the University of Oklahoma upon her 2015 graduation.

Jessi Haffner bats seventh from Bishop Carroll and is also one of our relief pitchers since she has won three consecutive state championship games in Class 5A with her last being a two hit shutout. This summer, pitching for the Wichita Mustangs, Haffner beat the then No. 1 gold team in the nation and her stock skyrocketed. She has committed to play next year at Oklahoma State University. Her bat however strongly suggested that she be included in our lineup as an outfielder. At the plate, Haffner homered six times during last year's high school season striking out only once with a .536 batting average. On the mound, she recorded 93 strikeouts while walking 14 with a 0.99 ERA. Plays summer ball with the national top 10 ranked Wichita Mustangs.

Brooklin Hinz from Saint Thomas Aquinas hits in the eighth spot for our starting nine and is taking her game to the University of Kentucky next season. Hinz hit .567 her junior season for the Saints including 12 doubles, three triples and seven homers as well as being 17-1 in the circle. Regarded as one of the top 5A pitchers in Kansas, she does not pitch a lot for her summer nationally ranked top 20 KC Peppers team, spending most of her time in the out field. Hinz has been selected three times as a Kansas Class 5A All-State player and pitched in the state championship game against Haffner as a sophomore. On the mound she had 11 shutouts last season. Student sports ranks Hinz as one of the top 100 players in the country at No.95.

Elizabeth Leonard hits ninth in our lineup, but is a little farther up in the lineup for her home town state Class 6A champion Olathe East Hawks during the high school season with her .533 batting average and 39 runs scored over her teams championship run this past season. Leonard is on her way to Bradley for her freshman season of college next year, and as the starting shortstop for the Hawks, committed only three errors in her junior season.

This lineup dosen't use a Designated Hitter, but if we did, it would be Olathe Northwest catcher Reagan Hathaway who has as a junior this season verbally committed to the university of Texas. Hathaway was named to the Kansas Softball Coaches Association All-State team as a catcher right beside McCracken, also a sophomore.

So we got our starting nine this preseason figured out in order, with a DH

LSU, Kansas, Kansas, Notre Dame, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kentucky, Bradley, Texas

I'll take that lineup.


Starting Nine:


Emily Griggs CF LSU
Mikayla Warren 2B Kansas
Morgan Bohanan 3B Kansas
Maddie McCracken C Jr. Notre Dame
Allison Stewart P Arkansas
Brittany Finney 1B Oklahoma
Jessi Haffner LF Oklahoma State
Brooklin Hinz RF Kentucky
Elizabeth Leonard SS Bradley
DH: if used: Reagan Hathaway Jr. Texas

Starting Pitcher: Allison Stewart
Relief Pitcher: Jessi Haffner
Closer: Brittany Finney

But as with any All-State team, there are many others who with a simple change of coaches in charge could be considered for the top spot as well. With that in mind, we give you our first team, second team, and third team players in one grouping as we feel these are the best the state has to offer presently. We might add, there are some injuries coming back from last year which we will have an eye on as to their progress and we have already spoken to a couple of them.

Currently, we have something like 23 commitments from our top two classes, a total of 17 of which are seniors and the rest juniors. It is a good year.

Yes, there will be some freshmen come in and upset the apple cart this season and we are already aware of some of them already playing at the "Gold" level for ASA ball. Being listed as pre-season doesn't get you automatically on the post season team. You have to produce on the field and you can check the 18 players that were replaced in our 2013 football team from the pre-season to the post season to see that. That said, here is our top team going into the season.

Complete Hovpen.rivals.com Pre-season



Starting pitchers:
Brittany Finney, Maize Oklahoma
Jessi Haffner, Bishop Carroll Oklahoma State
Brooklin Hinz, St. Thomas Aquinas Kentucky
Brynn Minor, Goddard Eisenhower Jr.
Kelsey Sterneker Maize South Wichita State
Allison Stewart, Olathe East, Arkansas

Relief Pitchers:
Hannah Geneva, Fort Scott, So
Mary Henning, Wichita Northwest
Kelsee Henry, Washburn Rural Jr. Washburn University
Brittnee Hill Pratt
Hailey Reed, Seaman, So.

Closing Pitchers:
Brooke Eberhardt, Augusta Jr.
Dani Fincham Marysville Texas El Paso
Ashlynn Godown, Derby Jr.
Hunter Middleton, Great Bend Jr.
Rowan Turner, Shawnee Mission East

Catchers
Lauren Buchanan, Bishop Carroll; So. Colorado State
Bailey Holt, Mulvane Wichita State
Maddie McCracken, Olathe North Notre Dame Jr.
Reagan Hathaway, Olathe Northwest, Texas Jr.
Kala Holder, Olathe South So.

Infield:
Morgan Balderas Bishop Carroll
Morgan Bohanan, Goddard, Kansas
Casey Campbell, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Jr.
Elizabeth Leonard, Olathe East, Bradley
Allie Macfarlane, Blue Valley North St. Louis
Miranda Rohleder Goddard, So.
Savannah Moore, Washburn Rural, Washburn
Rebecca Schulte, Andover Central Jr.
Mikayla Warren, Olathe Northwest, Kansas
Kelsey Wright, Olathe Northwest Drake

Outfield:
Alyssa Bates, Olathe South, Iowa Jr.
Emily Bermel, Free State, Kansas, Jr.
Cassidy Berry, DeSoto Southern Illinois
McKenna Davis. Olathe East, Jr.
Emily Griggs, Maize, LSU
Hunter Hogan, Bishop Carroll, Wichita State
Kiley Kerr, McPherson.
Erin McGinley, Shawnee Mission East Kansas
Taylor Mannis, Maize South, Newman
Kenzie Young Derby, So

Utility & DH
Kaelah McMullin Paola
Sam Stallbaumer, Haven
Gabby Sandoval, Valley Center Fort Hays

Of the uncommitted underclassmen in the infield, Rohleder is rumored to be down between Arizona State and Houston on her list, and we know that Schulte has been offered by Arkansas.

2014 season top SB returners




And don't think for one minute that these players can't have a good enough season to displace some of the ones we have listed above. There are some very good athletes on this list and several will be playing another sport at the next level.

Pitchers:

Rachel Anstaett, Shawnee Heights
Victoria Benvin-Udall (understand she is having knee surgery early January)
Haidyn Basset-Oskaloosa
Tori Burkhardt, Chase County
Destynee Donaldson, Mulvane
Megan Graf, Goddard
Meghan Grimes, Maize
Hannah Hearld, Hays, did not play last season due to injury but was KSCA All-State utility her freshman year
Kacia Hilty, Hutchinson
Bre Hogan, Salina South
Amanda Johnson, Topeka West
Aubry Jung, Manhattan
Lexi Myers Shawnee- Mill Valley
Morgan Myers, Medicine Lodge
Breanna Mogle, Columbus, Benedictine College
Meredith Morris, Free State
Julisa Ortega, Goddard
Courtney Richey, Humboldt
Chloe Rogers, Blue Valley (signed to play volleyball at Lipscomb)
Mikala Smith, Seaman
Kyenne Wade, Fort Scott

Catchers

Savannah Bellem, Shawnee Mission East
Savanah Buntemeyer Pratt
Piper Coen, Olathe Northwest
Ellena Cott-Laurie, Topeka High
Danielle Cross, Topeka High
Abby Denton, Fort Scott
Lexi Eisenbart Maize
Paige Ellison, Andover
Bre Hogan, Salina South
Samantha Karten, Perry LeCompton
Cassidy Kelsheimer, Chase County
Caroline Lipp, St. James Academy Rockhurst
Ashley Mars DeSoto
Cassidy Merriman, Holton
Lyndi McIntyre, Wichita Northwest
Jenny Metzger Washburn Rural
Madison Miller, Oskaloosa
Laci Myers, Mill Valley
Sesely Omli Ell-Saline
Kelsey Quinn Rock Creek
Dani Spence, Seaman
Shelby Simmons, Rose Hill
Kaitlyn Styve Blue Valley Northwest
Taylor Vickers, Olathe East
Lizzie Walz, Atchison
Lindsey Webb, Derby

Infield:

Danae Bina, Hillsboro
Ryleigh Buck, Wellington, (committed to Central Florida, sophomore)
Shayna Byers, Blue Valley Southwest
Morgan Byrne Lawrence
Marly Carmona, Lawrence, Emporia State
Shelby Dahl, Santa Fe Trail
Abby Ford Shawnee-Mill Valley
Kaitlyn Gemmill -Bishop Miege
McKenzie Harper, Larned
Madison Hoffman, McPherson
Alley Hovey, Winfield
Katy Nordman, Augusta
Allie Jurgensen, Maize
Allison Kasick Basehor-Linwood
Moriah Kayhill, Wellsville
Chelsey Kerr, McPherson
Morgan Kirk, Augusta
Kaity Kukowski, Olathe Northwest
Brenna McClure, Lyons
Tori Miller, Derby
Dani Nevelle, Andale
Breanna Pingry, Winfield
Lauren Rambat Pratt
Gabby Rangel, Goodland
Whitney Rothwell Lawrence Free State
Danielle Sprinkle, Ell Saline, Emporia State
Shanae Strate, Rose Hill
Bryna Vogel, Clearwater
Chasity Ward, Spring Hill
Abby Weber, Olathe South
Ashley Wilson, Mulvane
Jayce Worrell, Royal Valley

Outfield:

Maddie Abbs, Olathe North, Washburn
Macy Allred, Maize South
Lily Channel, Kapuan Newman
Kylie Cobb, Free State
Bailey Gillig Pratt
Winter Henry Rock Creek
Kristina Jadenborg, Shawnee Mission Northwest
Calie Kifer, Circle
Katie Lackner Basehor-Linwood
Lindsey Marcus, Shawnee Mission Northwest, Washburn
Caitie McNulty, Shawnee Mission Northwest
Andrea Mills, Lawrence
Logan Morrow, El Dorado
Cadie O'Donnell Salina South
Taylor Officer, Olathe East Langston
Baylee Rial, Buhler
Alex Snovelle, Chase County
Jeris Thomas Topeka-Seaman
Emily Voegeli, Valley Center
Shayna Weers, Spring Hill
Kylie Wesbrooks, Augusta
Reagan Wilson, Circle

Utility & DH

Lauren Berry, Olathe South
Jordan Boone, Arkansas City
Chandler Elsner, Olathe Northwest, Northern Colorado
Kenzie Garvin So. Lawrence
Carly Gum So. Derby
Kylie Fox, Wichita Southeast
Sierra Hall, Baldwin
Abby King, Shawnee Mission South
Jana Long . Blue Valley
Aliya Morroquin, Olathe North
Konner Patterson, McLouth
Caitlin Savage, Wichita Northwest Newman
Alyssa Sllivan, KC Piper, Newman
Kate Shields, Rose Hill
Alexa Sidoti, Olathe North
Blair Tommelein, Blue Valley Southwest, Minnesota State



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