by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC sports information
If pitching is indeed the key ingredient for softball success, Kansas City Kansas Community College should be in good shape for the 2021 season.
“As a staff, it’s one of the best I’ve had in the last decade,” veteran Blue Devil coach Lana Ross said.
The Blue Devils are starting the season with six home doubleheaders including twin bills with Marshalltown Saturday and No. 9-ranked Kirkwood Sunday.
The five-member pitching staff is made up of two veterans, Lansing’s Bradi Basler and New Zealander Nerida Elson, and three newcomers, Breanna Droge of Hayden Catholic, Sammi Reynolds of Tonganoxie and Reagan Marsh of McLouth. Basler compiled a 4-4 record in nine starts in last spring’s COVID shortened season. She struck out 59 and walked 20 in 43 innings. The lone lefthander on the staff, Elson was 0-1 in five appearances.
Basler and Drogge give the Blue Devils two No. 1 hurlers from which to choose.
“It’s a toss-up,” Ross said. “Both have very good control of all their pitches and both have great command of their change-ups.” Elson will get the third starting assignment with Reynolds and Marsh ticketed for the all-important relief job. “We taught Elson the screwball in the off-season and she worked hard on her change up,” says Ross. “Reynolds is a primary rise ball pitcher and ideal for relief.”
Offensively and defensively, the Blue Devils will be led by the three “supersophs,” three players who will be playing their third season – outfielders Alexis Rymer of Piper and Devin Purcell of Eudora and third baseman Alaina Howe, also of Eudora.
A rightfielder, Rymer hit .337 and drove in 40 runs as a freshman and then batted a robust .452 last year with a .903 slugging percentage while Purcell has started every game in center the last two seasons, hitting .354 as a freshman and .347 last spring. Both are also outstanding defensively. Rymer has yet to make an error and Purcell has just one in two seasons. A starter at both third and second base, Howe has hit .230 and .235 in her two years.
Howe and second baseman Madison Pope of McLouth will provide experience in the infield where they’ll be joined by Baker transfer Hannah Maurer of Blue Valley Southwest at first base and Savannah Maynard of Blue Springs via Vermilion, Ohio, at shortstop. Alyssa Seichepine of Leavenworth will also get playing time at second while two other infielders, Haley Masisak of Lansing and Meadow Wyatt of Sparks, Nevada, have yet to be cleared medically.
“Defensively, Pope is very good and such a good leader,” Ross said. “Maurer is also very good defensively with great power at the plate. Maynard will be our leadoff hitter. She consistently gets the ball in play and gets on base and will also allow us to move Purcell back to second in the batting order.”
Freshman Lindsey Gettle of Pleasant Hope gets the edge over veteran Alexander Schafer of Lexington, Oklahoma, and freshman Jenna Daugherty of Olathe Northwest for the starting catching position while New Zealander Georgia Faunt has not been cleared medically.
“Gettle receives well and has a good arm to second base,” Ross said.
Lansing’s Leah Seichepine, who led the Blue Devils in hitting with a .462 average last spring, will join Purcell and Rymer in the outfield. She’ll be backed by a former Lansing teammate, freshman Shannon Jessup.
“Offensively, we’re about 80 percent where we want to be,” said Ross, who is again assisted by Jenn Strohman. “We’ve got great speed and power but we didn’t see any other teams in the fall; we just faced each other.”
As usual, the Blue Devils will face a tough schedule starting with Jayhawk Conference play against No. 6-ranked and No. 7 Johnson County. In addition to No. 9 Kirkwood, KCKCC also plays two Division I teams, Southeastern Iowa and Mineral Area.
Kansas City Kansas Community College
2021 Softball Schedule
Feb. 25 Ottawa JV, Home 1-3 p.m.
Feb. 27 Marshalltown, Home 1-3 p.m.
Feb. 28 Kirkwood, Home 1-3 p.m.
March 6 Central Nebraska, Home 1-3 p.m.
March 7 Southwestern Iowa 1-3 p.m.
March 9 Ellsworth, Home 1-3 p.m.
March 12 Southeastern Iowa 4 p.m.
March 12 Mineral Area 6 p.m.
March 15 North Dakota Science, Home 1-3 p.m.
March 18 Fort Scott*, Home 1-3 p.m.
March 20 Labette*, Away 1-3 p.m.
March 24 Southeast Nebraska, Home 1-3 p.m.
March 27 Cowley College*, Away 1-3 p.m.
March 30 Coffeyville*, Home 2-4 p.m.
April 1 Hesston*, Away 4-6 p.m.
April 3 Metropolitan, Home noon-2 p.m.
April 6 Crowder, Home 2-4 p.m.
April 8 Allen County*, Home 2-4 p.m.
April 10 Johnson County*, Away noon-2 p.m.
April 15 Fort Scott*, Away 2-4 p.m.
April 17 Labette*, Home 2-4 p.m.
April 20 Crowder, Away 2-4 p.m.
April 22 Cloud County*, Away 2-4 p.m.
April 24 Neosho County*, Away noon-2 p.m.
April 26 Southwestern Iowa, Home 2-4 p.m.
April 29 Highland*, Away 2-4 p.m.
May 6 Allen County*, Away 1-3 p.m.
May 8 Johnson County*, Home noon-2 p.m.
* Jayhawk Conference doubleheader