Softball Heads to Districts as they Look to Repeat


Tommy Briner

Reese Earleywine, senior, swings for the fences, something she has successfully done five times this season.

Oh yeah baby, playoff time.

In the month of October thus far, the 10-10 Wildcat softball girls have added four more wins to their resume. The wins include resounding victories against Trinity by a score of 17-1, Clayton by a score of 16-0, and Parkway Central by a score of 13-3. They also managed to grab a huge 8-5 win against Parkway West.

The seniors have been controlling the offense for the team this fall led by Lauren Gates and Reese Earleywine. Earleywine has a .518 average on the year, five big flies, and 19 RBIs while Lauren Gates has a .469 average, five home runs, and 23 RBIs. The two have been responsible for 68 percent of the runs that the team has scored this season, whether scoring them or driving them in. 

Recently, two new players have joined the home run club. One is senior Katie Hobaugh who grabbed her first homerun against Parkway West. She accounted for four RBIs in that game and collected a .450 average on the season for the club. The other is new freshman Gabby Merrifield, who had a homerun against both Clayton and Parkway Central. Along with the two long balls, she has 17 RBIs and close to a .300 average. 

Merrifield has also been the team’s ace on the mound. Statistically, she sits just north of 4.5 ERA and also has collected 72 strikeouts. 

Coming up Thursday for the Wildcats, Parkway North is coming to town for the district semifinals. North had a record of 7-15 for the regular season. In September of this year, the Wildcats got an 11-7 win against Parkway North on their home turf. That game transpired with eleven hits for the Wildcats and five of eleven runs being scored in the sixth inning. 

For the Vikings, their bright spot is small ball. 75.3% of the hits for the Vikings this season have been routine singles, with only 34 extra base hits for the entire roster. Also, there is not much threat for the long ball, as they have only hit two. 

Head Coach Dan Petke will win this game if he finds suitable positioning for the outfield to not let the Vikings bloop singles drop. Since there is not much threat for deep balls, he should keep them relatively shallow. For the infield, they will certainly have to be on their toes the whole game, because something that this Vikings team have is contact. Keep the ball down and get the outs that should be outs. Pitching wise, if Merrifield is on her A-game then this should be a fun game. Offensively, the Wildcats need to strike first and get the big hitters to do what they have done all season. 

The game takes place at 2:15 pm and is on the Wildcats’ home field. The winner of this game goes on to the district championship, where the Wildcats would be looking to win their second straight.