Varsity Kansas has introduced a new series, Moment of the Year. The series will highlight the top moment or performance from the 2017-18 high school sports season for each of the Wichita-area schools. And now, the Andover Central Jaguars.
Andover Central didn't have the best odds at the state tournament, but at least one Jaguar had been in a similar fight before.
Coach Rita Frakes was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in April 2017 but beat it after months of treatment and coached through the 2018 season. She said when she was with her players, she felt no pain.
That determination was repaid as Andover Central won its second softball state championship after entering with a 12-10 record and the No. 7 seed. The Jaguars had to beat three teams with a combined 64-5 record to do it.
First, Andover Central had KC Piper in the quarterfinals. The Jaguars won 12-9 after a dozen innings. In the semifinals, they had Paola and handed it 8-4.
Both wins set up a state-title game with the No. 1 team in the class, Independence. Andover Central entered with momentum but 10 fewer wins and 10 more losses. Independence was undefeated, looking for a 25-0 season.
The game was tied at 1 heading into extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, with a runner on second, Jordyn Maddex slapped a double to left and broke the tie.
After a walk, Kalei Kline stepped to the plate and ripped a three-run home run to left. The Jaguars led 5-1 and were three outs from a title. But they had trouble getting those three outs.
In the bottom of the eighth, Independence scored on an error after a walk, single and fielder's choice. Two batters later, it was 5-4. Independence scored on a passed ball and another single to center.
But with the winning run at the plate, Andover Central pitcher Katie Boline, the same player who had the error that started the comeback, fielded a ground ball back to the mound. She tossed to first, got the out and got the title.
Frakes told her players not leave an ounce on the field, and they didn't, she said.
Other key moments
- Andover Central boys golf team wins back-to-back state championships as Keegan Ellington drops nine shots off his average to win the Class 4A individual title at 2-under 69. Three Jaguars placed in the top four.
- Jaguars baseball team finishes third at the Class 4A-Division I tournament after a 4-3 win over Ottawa and 2-0 victory against Tonganoxie in the third-place game. Andover Central lost to eventual state champion Arkansas City 1-0 in nine innings.
- Andover Central boys tennis doubles team of Jason Reilly/Jason Thompson finishes runner-up at the Class 4A tournament. Pair of seniors finish as most decorated players in Jaguar tennis history.
- Jaguars' boys and girls cross country teams finish runners-up at the Class 4A meets. Boys fall five points short of Circle. Girls come in 31 shy of Baldwin. Senior Matthew Maki (8th) and junior Cailan Steward (14th) are top boys and girls finishers.
- Andover Central comes fourth at the Class 4A-Division I boys basketball tournament. Jaguars lose to eventual champion Bishop Miege in the semifinals and Arkansas City in the third-place game.