WYANDOTTE - A solid pitcher and three freshmen who have exceeded expectations have helped make Mounds a top 10 team in Class 2A softball
“We're not bad at times,” said coach Matt Ross, whose Lady Eagles (24-8) join three Lucky 7 Conference teams in a regional tournament that begins here Thursday afternoon.
“We figured we would probably be a few games over .500 this season,” said Ross, who is in his first season at Mounds. “We knew it would depend on those freshmen (catcher Lauren Kruse, left fielder Kelsie Long and center fielder Lindsey Newberry).
“We knew they would be good, but they have gone above and beyond what I expected. I had hit them 2, 4 and 6 and now they are hitting 2, 4 and 5.”
Wyandotte and Commerce battle in the 1:30 p.m. opener, with the Lady Eagles meeting Fairland at 3 p.m.
The first-round losers play at 4:30 p.m. with the two winners squaring off at 6 p.m.
Play resumes on Friday with an elimination game at 12:30 p.m. The title game will follow at 2 p.m. with the “if necessary” game at 3:30 p.m.
In other regionals, Miami travels to Catoosa and Welch is at Dewar.
“We may have the best record but there isn't one team that dominates,” Ross said “It's going to be wide open.”
Mounds swept Yale in District 14 play last Thursday. Wyandotte, the Lucky 7 Conference champ, won twice against Ketchum. Fairland advanced with a pair of wins over Oklahoma Union and Commerce topped Quapaw.
Bianca Mehlhorn earned pitcher of the year honors in the Frisco Conference.
“She really sets the tone for us,” Ross said. “She's been caught stealing only once this year and she has an ERA of 0.60. We go with how she goes.”
Another key player has been senior shortstop Audra Newberry.
“She is a real hard-nosed player,” Ross said. “She doesn't do anything spectacularly, but she gets the job done.”
Ross calls Kruse the Lady Eagles' best offensive and defensive player. Her batting average heading into the playoffs was .554.
She was honored as the Frisco Conference's top defensive player.
Ross said Long may be switched to third base for the regional in an attempt to shore up that position.
In addition to the three talented freshmen, the Mounds' lineup includes three sophomores, one junior and only two seniors.
“I came into a pretty good situation,” said Ross, who had been at Wetumka the past two years. “They were already pretty good fundamentally. I haven't had to worry about that with them.”