Varsity Kansas

Maize South learning as season progresses

Maize South softball coach Teri Larson had a tough 2010 season. The school opened in the fall of 2009 and the Mavericks had no seniors.

Maize South again has no seniors and is relying on two juniors, two sophomores and five freshmen in its lineup.

"I thought we would compete, which we have," said Larson, whose team is 8-10. "Of those 10 losses, five of those we had a lead.

"It's just that inexperience. They've got to learn how to win, how to handle pressure."

Some of those mistakes have been getting picked off after taking too big of a lead, bunting up the middle instead of to a corner, and not hitting behind the runner.

"They don't have the strategy yet," Larson said. "I've been very patient because I've had to be."

Sophomore pitcher Jody Larson (4-6), Teri's daughter, moves to shortstop for the second game of doubleheaders and freshman Kelsey Sterneker (4-4) pitches.

Maize South, which plays host to Buhler on Monday, got a signature win when it split with Andale last Monday.

"I hope that propels us and gives us the confidence we need," Teri Larson said. "We had Augusta, Mulvane and Andover Central beat, but at the end, we didn't handle the pressure well."

Maize South is in the Class 4A same regional as Buhler and Andale.

Millspaugh's injury — Northwest senior pitcher Mac Millspaugh has missed most of the season on the mound because of problems she's had with a shoulder muscle.

Her dad, Dave, said her throwing style has caused an overuse of a trapezius muscle. Millspaugh (3-0, 1.11 ERA) has been rehabilitating the shoulder and should return to pitching by the postseason, he said.

Millspaugh has continued to play at shortstop, hitting .517.

Up and down — Heights has had a rollercoaster season. The Falcons are 10-8 and play Southeast on Tuesday.

"We hit the ball really well, we play defense really well for the majority of the game," coach Kip Pulliam said. "But we seem to have that inning or two that seems to put us in a hole, and we have to battle out of it.... We've had glimpses that we could be good."

Junior third baseman Katie Mertes has been a bright spot. She's not only a strong defensive player, she is hitting .670 with four homers.

Other key players are Hannah Tritschler (hitting .429), Bree Drury (.415) and pitcher Laura Farkas.

"Maybe in the next two weeks we can work out the kinks and make a run," Pulliam said.

Experience helps — Belle Plaine finished last season at 11-9 but returned eight players.

"That's made a huge difference," said coach Lindsay Hall, whose team is 13-4 with three losses to Medicine Lodge. "I had a pretty young team, and they've got another year of experience. I have girls who are a lot more confident when they are up to bat."

Senior pitcher Emily Doyle (10-4) has been stronger this season on the mound (76 strikeouts) and at the plate (.444 batting average, 22 RBIs, nine doubles) after having hip surgery.

"She's pretty much our go-to player," Hall said."... She was in quite a bit of pain last year pitching. She didn't bat much last year, and this year, she's one of our big hitters, and that's made a big difference."

Sophomore second baseman Jamie Wilkerson has a team-high .475 batting average, five triples and 23 RBIs. Junior first baseman Morgan Crenshaw has 10 stolen bases and hits .444.