It was a fitting end for both Mark Balderston and Madison Jones.
For Balderston it was the end of his 12-year run as the Shawnee Mission Northwest High School softball coach. The end came with two victories by the Kansas All-Stars on Monday in the MO-KAN All-Star Series at the Shawnee Mission District Softball Complex.
The Kansas All-Stars won 8-3 and 4-0 to take an 8-5 lead in the annual series.
“What a great way to finish my career,” he said. “It was just a joy to be around all this talent.”
The newly-retired Cougars’ coach finished his final season with an 14-9 record and his fifth trip to the Kansas 6A state tournament. The Cougars won two 6A state championships with Balderston at the helm.
His pitcher Katt Cooper got the victory in the second game, and his third baseman Bailey Letts drove in the first run of the second game.
Madison Jones of Blue Valley Northwest was named the most valuable player for the Kansas team.
She provided both offense and defense.She was three-for-three at bat with a double and a run batted in in the first game and she shined defensively at shortstop in the second game.
“It was a blessing to watch her play,” Balderston said. “Her defensive plays were outstanding.”
Jones, who will attending Missouri State in the coming school year, said, “It was a great honor to play in this game. These are the best players in the Kansas City area.”