BHS softball slides safely into history
History was made last Tuesday on a diamond in Oskaloosa. For the first time ever, Baldwin High School sent a softball team onto the field. They won, too ... twice even.
"It's strange to look out there and see those purple uniforms. That's us. That's Baldwin High," said Ginny Honomichl, coach of BHS's first-ever softball team. "The first game was real important to win our first-ever game. No matter what happens, they can't take that away."
BHS didn't just beat Oskaloosa in that historic opener, the Bulldogs shut them out 13-0 behind rock-solid defense, the pitching of sophomore Kyrstan Hubbel and a good dose of offense. History will show that the only run BHS needed came from freshman center fielder Katie Martin, who slid across home plate in the first inning with the first-ever Baldwin High run. There would be 12 more.
There would be three more wins before the week was done, too. BHS swept the Oskaloosa doubleheader with an 8-3 win. On Thursday, the Bulldogs took two from Frontier League foes Paola, 12-10, and Louisburg, 9-6, to chalk up another first with league victories.
All-in-all, it was quite a week for the Bulldogs and the entourage that followed them from field to field. Emotions were high as the team that took several years and a Title IX investigation to bring about finally played.
"There are some people who get some real warm feelings about this happening," said Honomichl. "It sort of like giving birth to a softball program."
But these girls aren't even toddlers. They can play already. Schooled on the numerous fields of summer softball over the years, the Bulldogs trotted out a talented group of players that defies the tag of "first-year program."
In four games the Bulldogs hammered out 45 hits for 42 runs, and committed just eight errors while holding their opponents to 19 runs. Jodie Bacon led the way with 10 hits, followed by Martin with nine including the first-ever BHS hit, a double, which led to that first run Kim Sledd with eight, Kristen Wessel with seven and Suzie Weege with five. Hubbel's 4-0 record came while striking out 20 and walking just four.
"We had a lot of people get hits. We don't have one or two people hitting the ball," she said. "Hubbel has been our pitcher every game, every inning she's done a good job.
"Everyone contributed," she said. "It's their team."
BHS never trailed in the opening doubleheader. The Bulldogs scored five runs in their first inning of play and scored in each inning on the way to the 13-0 shutout win. In the second game, Baldwin scored two runs in the fourth inning and three each in the sixth and seventh for the 8-3 win.
It was different in the league games. Against Paola, BHS went up 2-0 in the first inning, but the Panthers tied it up in the bottom of the first and then tacked on three in the second and another in the third for a 6-2 lead. The Bulldogs bounced back with a single run in the fifth inning and then exploded for nine runs in the sixth to take the lead for good.
Against Louisburg, BHS trailed 1-0, went up 2-1, fell behind 3-2, and then 4-3 before the rally caps came through again. The Bulldogs scored six runs in the sixth to secure the win.
But as impressive as that start was, Honomichl isn't about to let the Bulldogs rest on their early laurels.
"We've won four in a row, but I told them we're not going to go 20-0," said Honomichl. "I try to teach being humble and doing things with class."
What has also been interesting, she said, have been the crowds that have shown up for the first two days of the first-ever season. A good contingent of Baldwin fans have made both trips.
"The student body has been so supportive," said Honomichl. "Other programs have been supportive. Everyone has gotten behind us.
"To me it's strange because I've coached for so long, but sports where there aren't very many fans. You're lucky to have three or four parents along. To look up and see all the purple in the stands was very nice," she said.
The Bulldogs took their show back on the road Tuesday for a pair of games at Kansas City Piper. Results weren't available by press time.
But Friday will mark another first. BHS will play host to Hays at 4 p.m. at the east high school field. It will be the varsity's one and only regular season home appearance during the inaugural season.
"We plan on having some fun and do some promotion have a 'pack the stands' kind of deal," said Honomichl. "We're going to feed the Hays team and their entourage after the game, too. It should be a lot of fun."