Baldwin High School softball team looks for respect
Second-year Baldwin High School softball coach Ginger Crist said her team is entering the season with an attitude.
In her first year as coach of the Baldwin program, the Bulldogs advance past the first game in regional play for the first time in years with a victory against Topeka-Hayden before losing, 3-2, in the regional semi-finals to St. James Academy, which went on to advance to the 4A state tournament.
The team finished the year 13-9 and recorded a Frontier League record of 7-7.
But Crist said the team and its players got very little love from Frontier League coaches despite the obvious signs of improvement.
“Last year, the coaches didn’t give us any respect,” she said. “The coaches didn’t vote any of our girls to the all-team team. This year, we’re going to get their respect.”
The Bulldogs will get that chance early. The team opens against defending Frontier League champion and favorite De Soto with a home double header March 29 and then travels April 3 to play Ottawa, which looks to be the second best team in the league.
The early challenge could get the team off to a good start or test its confidence, Crist said.
The Bulldogs last four seniors from last year’s squad, including Morgan Burton (now playing at MidAmerican Nazarene) and Fort Scott Community College signee Karlee Beach, but Crist sees much to be hopeful about as she surveys her current team.
The team has good speed and should be able to score runs, Crist said.
She also expects a strong defensive team with senior Madeline Brungardt, a D-1 signee with St. Louis University, at shortstop and Emily Simpson, one of two freshmen Crist expects to play important roles on the team with outfield Sierra Hall, at second. Sophomore Hailey Cope returns at third base and seniors Alexis Finucane and Kylie King are competing for the starting first-base assignment, the coach said.
Freshman Simpson has been seasoned from playing club ball in the Kansas City metropolitan area and from tournament experience in Colorado and Iowa.
“It feels like we’re really solid in the field,” Simpson said. “Hopefully, we can get off to a good start and keep it going.”
Junior Kaitlyn Christie, who saw some varsity spot duty behind the plate last year, is penciled in as starting catcher. The opening day starting outfield will be senior Kaysha Green, junior Kaitlyn Jorgensen and Hall.
The team’s No. 1 pitcher is senior Hayley Schwartz.
“I think we have a pretty solid, well-rounded team,” Schwartz said. “We have a strong defense and good hitting, We will see how it works out.
“The opening games are tough. The seniors were kind of disappointed, but we know what we’re up against.”
In contention for the back-up pitching spot are junior Katie Pattrick and sophomore Jenna irey.