Park Hill South junior softball player Olivia Kinsey began pitching when she was 8 years old. She was a multi-sport athlete at the time, but she soon quit everything else to focus on her time inside the pitcher’s circle. Her infatuation with the position centered around one key element.
“Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved striking people out,” Kinsey said. “I obviously want to get every batter out, but I really want to strike them out.”
As it turns out, Kinsey became quite good at it.
She struck out 236 hitters during the fall season, her junior year with Park Hill South, and that helped her finish with a 17-3 record and 1.03 earned run average. She is The Star’s All-Metro Missouri softball player of the year.
“I throw a rise ball, and you have good strikeout numbers with that, but you also have to worry that if you miss (location), it can be hit hard. It’s risk versus reward,” said Kinsey, who has committed to Oregon. “But I like that part of it.”
Kinsey established a goal this season to strike out every batter in the lineup at least once over the course of the game. Her offseason pitching lessons focus on ways to get people to swing and miss.
And despite turning most of her attention to developing as a pitcher, Kinsey still hit .429 with six home runs at the plate. Park Hill South finished 25-4.
“This year was a really exciting year,” Kinsey said. “We had a great team, and for me personally, I thought I was able to improve from the year before. That’s been my goal — I hope to improve each year.”
The Star’s All-Metro Missouri softball team
Alexis Crabtree, Lee’s Summit, senior. She finished 22-7 with a 1.36 ERA and 264 strikeouts in 179 innings. She allowed only five hits in three district games.
Alle Pattillo, Staley, senior. In leading the Falcons to the Missouri Class 4 state championship, Pattillo was 21-3 in the circle with a 1.59 ERA. She struck out 105 batters.
Callie Martin, Raymore-Peculiar, junior. A Missouri commit, Martin split time between four positions, but saw the most time at catcher. She batted .493, including a .536 average during conference play, and drove in 31 runs.
Madison Hunsaker, Belton, junior. Hunsaker batted .552 with 11 doubles, two home runs and 33 RBI for the Pirates. She has committed to Missouri State.
Abby Klein, Staley, senior. For the state-champion Falcons, Klein had an error-free season in the field. She batted .470, scored 39 runs and stole 22 bases.
Brittani Reid, Blue Springs, senior. Not only did she hit .505 for the season, but exactly half of her 50 hits went for extra bases. She had 19 doubles, one triple and five home runs.
Madi Hecker, Blue Springs South, junior. She set a new school record with a .525 average, aided by hitting safely in 24 of 26 games. She drove in 25 runs.
Kylie DeClue, Park Hill South, senior. A consistent run producer, DeClue batted .440 with nine doubles, nine home runs and 42 RBIs. She has committed to Pittsburg State.
Kelsey Runge, Liberty North, senior. She hit .429 with nine doubles, two triples and two home runs. She did not make an error in the field and played much of the season with a broken bone in her foot.
Blair Shanks, Kearney, senior. In addition to hitting for a .440 average, she drove in 31 runs and scored 32 more. While playing center field, she tallied four outfield assists.
Olivia Kinsey, Park Hill South, junior. The contributions came from multiple avenues. As a pitcher, she was 17-3 with a 1.03 earned run average and 236 strikeouts. At the plate, she batted .429 with six home runs and 28 RBI.