Varsity Kansas

Udall out to erase bad memories

Each of the past two seasons, Udall softball has been 22-0 ... and then lost in the Class 2-1A regional championship game.

"I can't explain how hurt we were, to dominate and then stay home," coach Jack Kistler said. "That's why we're that much hungrier. I could tell them to run around the town of Udall 10 times, and they would do it."

Udall is 17-1-1 and heads into its regional as the top seed. Udall will play the winner of Sedan and Central-Burden in Tuesday's semifinal.

"This was supposed to be a rebuilding year," Kistler said. "We lost four seniors who had started as freshmen — two pitchers, a catcher and a shortstop. Those are vital positions."

Udall then lost its center fielder, who moved away. But a mix of five seniors, three sophomores and eight freshmen have settled in well.

Freshman pitcher Victoria Benvin has struck out 93 and is hitting .611 with 21 extra-base hits, including four homers.

Senior first baseman Coty Shelton is hitting .511 with 11 extra-base hits, while freshman shortstop Sami Loos is hitting .520. Senior pitcher Hannah Kruskop is hitting .429.

Senior leadership — Pratt coach Mike Forshee has no complaints about his team as it heads into Class 4A regional play.

"We've been really hitting the ball well," Forshee said. "We play pretty solid defense, and pitching has been very good, also."

With a fairly young squad, Forshee has counted on several seniors, including four-year starting catcher Jordi Garrett (.500, 25 RBIs) and first baseman Breanna Blankenship (.321).

Pratt, which lost its season opener to Hillsboro, starts four freshmen.

"I say they're young, but they're not," Forshee said. "They've got a lot of experience in the summer. They've played together for, I don't know how many years. I also play two or three other freshmen consistently.

"They're just good athletes, softball smart."

Freshman infielder Lauren Rambat is hitting .526 and has 23 stolen bases, while freshman Bailey Gillig has 16 stolen bases and is hitting .433. Freshman pitcher Brittnee Hill has a 0.67 ERA and 108 strikeouts.

Pratt (18-2) will play in Wednesday's semifinals against Hugoton, Moscow, Hoisington or Claflin.