In the fifth inning of the second game of the Mo-Kan All-Star Softball Series on Monday evening at Shawnee Mission School District Softball Complex, the Kansas All-Stars were struggling on defense.
Three errors by the Kansas squad helped as Missouri pushed across seven runs in the inning, and the Missouri team was looking to score more. With a couple of runners on, a fly ball looked like it was going to fall between the Kansas centerfielder and right fielder.
But Olathe South High School’s Alyssa Bates, who had already made one catch in the fifth inning, darted towards right field, stretched out and caught the ball a few inches above the grass.
It wasn’t a game-winning catch, but it sure showed the zeal Bates continued to display regardless of the score or circumstances. Kansas lost the second game, 15-1, and dropped the first game, 12-3.
“I think all four years that it was obvious she was a great player, an above average player,” said Olathe North coach Frank Barnes, one of the Kansas squad coaches. “She got better each year.
“She is a student of the game as opposed to just playing the game. Obviously, she is hard to coach against because she is multi-faceted as far as hitting, slapping and bunting.”
Bates, who was selected the most valuable player for the Kansas All-Star squad, put her abilities on display in both games.
Batting in the No. 2 spot, Bates got on base all three times in the first game. She stole a base and scored two of Kansas’ three runs.
“She is a very smart base runner,” Barnes said. “Some kids have a lot of speed, but their lack of knowledge running the bases hampers them a little bit. She has the knowledge and the speed to go with it.”
Bates showed her speed again in the second game. Despite trailing 15-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Kansas still battled and got its first two runners on base. Bates stepped to the plate and slapped the ball to short and then used her speed to reach first, which loaded the bases. Kansas failed to score and the game ended.
Despite the outcome, Bates said she enjoyed the all-star game experience.
“It was a lot of fun being with all these girls and getting to know them,” she said. “I am glad I was able to experience it.”
Bates also enjoyed her years at Olathe South, where she accomplished quite a bit. Her 3.75 grade-point average helped her land an academic scholarship. She will attend Kansas and be a pharmacy major.
“I’m trying to go to school and play softball there,” Bates said. “I’ve been talking to the coach.”
Bates left Olathe South with a terrific memory, considering the Falcons won the Kansas 6A state championship her senior year.
“It was awesome,” Bates said.
Bates, though, probably feels that way anytime she gets to play softball.
“She has a good personality, very likeable,” Barnes said. “She is an all-around enjoyable person to be around.”