by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Lana Ross gets her first look at her Kansas City Kansas Community College softball team Saturday when the Blue Devils play host to Ottawa University at 1 p.m.
It’s the first of 10 doubleheaders on a fall schedule made up almost entirely of four-year college and university opponents. KCKCC will also play host to Avila Sept. 20 and Mid-America Nazarene Sept. 21. Other opponents will include UMKC, Park, Missouri Western and the University of Missouri.
Ross and assistant Jenn Strohman will have a solid nucleus around which to build – seven veterans including two pitchers, one catcher, two infielders and two outfielders, all of whom were starters on last spring’s 38-20 team. To that group Ross has added a core of 12 promising freshmen and one transfer.
Pitchers – Righthanders Mackenzie Pinkerton (16-12) of Chanhassen, Minnesota, and Shaylun Grosstephan (15-6) of Girard return after combining for 49 starts in the spring. They’ll be joined by Bradi Basler of Lansing, Nerida Elson of Auckland, New Zealand; and Kynzee Johnson of Wayne, Oklahoma.
“Bradi will be a good compliment for Shaylun,” Ross said. “Shay throws a heavy drop ball with a change-up; Bradi throws hard with a good rise ball. Elson gives us a lefthander with great spin on the ball and great accuracy.”
Catchers – Jennica Messer of Basehor is back after hitting .297 in 40 games last season. She’ll be joined by Alex Schafer of Lexington, Oklahoma, and Georgia Faunt of Auckland.
“Messer started 38 games last year while Schafer is great defensively with a high softball IQ,” Ross said. “Faunt is injured so we’ll have to wait on her.”
First base – Hannah Redick of Shawnee Mission North started all 58 games at shortstop last season, hitting .368 and leading the Blue Devils in hits with 75. She moves to first base to fill the vacancy left by home run leader Kaylee Arnzen.
“A great hitter, she’s a great team player and will be a very good first baseman,” Ross said. She’ll be backed by Alex Martin of Norman, Oklahoma, and Madison Prough of Olathe South.
Second base – Freshmen Madison Pope of McLouth and Alyssa Seichephine of Leavenworth will vie for the starting job.
Shortstop – A transfer from Johnson County, Dezmen Duncan of Atchison will get the call at shortstop.
“Duncan is one of the most talented shortstops I’ve had; very strong arm and high softball IQ,” Ross said.
Third base – Alaina Howe of Eudora started all 58 games last spring, hitting .230. She’ll be backed by Abby Henson of Pleasant Hope, Missouri.
Outfield – Devin Purcell of Eudora and Alexis Rymer of Piper earned post-season honors after standout freshmen campaigns. Purcell batted .354 and made one error in center field; Rymer hit .337 and had no errors in right. The battle for the left field job is up for grabs between freshmen Leah Seichephine of Leavenworth and Haley Masisak of Lansing although Bradi Basler is also a possibility.
“It will come down to hitting; whoever is hitting will be in the lineup,” Ross said.
“Overall, we have more talent than last year,” Ross said. “We have to make sure we play as a team and I think we’re well on the way to achieving that. We also have to stay healthy. We have a long way to go but this fall will provide a great growing opportunity.”
Kansas City Kansas Community College 2019 Fall Softball Schedule
Sept. 14 Ottawa University, Home 1-3 p.m.
Sept. 20 Avila University, Home 4 p.m.
Sept. 21 Mid-America Nazarene, Home 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Oct. 3 Rockhurst University, Away 6 p.m.
Oct. 5 UMKC, Away Noon
Oct. 6 Missouri Western, Away Noon
Oct. 11 Univ. of Missouri, Away 12-2:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 Park University, Home Noon
Oct. 13 PSA Club Team, Home 12-2 p.m.
Oct. 18 Maple Woods, Away 3-5 p.m.