Kansas state softball: Five things to watch

05/28/2014 8:18 PM

06/03/2014 10:17 AM

1. Can Olathe East win again? The Class 6A two-time defending state champions from Olathe East are the favorite again entering this year’s state tournament. The Hawks, who are led by two-time Gatorade Kansas Player of the Year Allison Stewart, are 22-0 and will play Derby, 12-10, in the first round at 11 a.m. Thursday at Blue Valley West High School.

2. Oskaloosa chasing perfection. Olathe East is not the only school looking to cap a perfect season with a state title. Oskaloosa is the top seed in Class 3A with a 23-0 record. The Bears have two players, Bree Brooks and Haidyn Bassett, who are batting at least .500 with nine home runs each. Oskaloosa will face Lyons/Chase, 16-7, at 5 p.m. Thursday at Hummer Sports Complex in Topeka.

3. Eastern Kansas versus Sunflower League. In Class 6A, Olathe Northwest will play Blue Valley West in the tournament’s first KC area matchup at 5 p.m. on Thursday. Olathe Northwest is seeded third with an 18-4 record, but they will have their hands full with the sixth-seeded Jaguars, 15-7.

4. Upset-minded Timberwolves. Blue Valley Southwest earned its bid to the Class 5A state tournament in a dramatic way with a 5-3 victory against undefeated St. Thomas Aquinas. The Timberwolves are 14-8 and seeded eighth, which means they’ll face top-seeded and undefeated Topeka Seaman, 22-0, at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Twin Oaks Complex in Manhattan. Also in 5A, it will be a battle of 18-4 teams when Mill Valley faces Maize South at 7 p.m.

5. Olathe South’s inexperience. Even though Olathe South started nine sophomores this season, the team went 10-1 and finished second in the Sunflower League behind Olathe East. Now, the Falcons enter the Class 6A tournament as the No. 4 seed with an 18-4 record and will face Maize at 1 p.m. Thursday at Blue Valley West.

To reach Kathleen Gier, call 816-234-4875 or send email to kgier@kcstar.com.

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