HHS softball No. 5 seed today
By KLINT SPILLER
The Hays High School softball team swept its final opponent to earn the No. 5 seed in the Class 5A regional, but now, the true test begins.
The Indians face the toughest softball regional in 5A. All but one team in the stacked regional has a winning record, and the two top seeds each sit at 17-3.
Fortunately for Hays High (12-8), the Indians won't have to knock off both 17-3 teams to punch their tickets to state since the regional is split in half, but it still should be a challenge, said head coach Abby Maska.
"We definitely got a tough draw," Maska said. "But if you're going to make it to the (state) tournament, you might as well get there playing the best teams."
To qualify, Hays High will have to defeat No. 4 seed Maize South (13-5) and follow that with a victory against No. 1 seed Goddard-Eisenhower (17-3), which will receive a bye in the first round.
Both regional games are scheduled for today at Goddard-Eisenhower. The Hays High-Maize South game is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., and the regional championship game is supposed to follow it at 5:30 p.m.
"It's one game at a time," Maska said.
Maska said she anticipates starting freshman pitcher Madison Prough (7-6) in Game 1. Prough has started 13 games this season, replacing sophomore ace Hannah Hearld who suffered a knee injury during basketball season.
Maska said she has confidence in Prough, who has a 4.84 earned-run average, but the rest of the team is going to have to support her with the regional's upcoming opponents.
So far this season, the offense has done that, averaging 9.2 runs per game and hitting .388 with a .547 slugging percentage and .426 on-base percentage, but the defense has struggled. Hays High averages 3.2 errors a game.
"I think we haven't played our best ball yet," Maska said. "We are just hoping all the pieces will come together."
The Indians are led by a trio of seniors.
First baseman Shea Briggs leads the squad with a .549 average and is 23 for 23 on stolen bases attempted. Shortstop Katelyn Schumacher has done a little bit of everything for the Indians offensively. She's hitting .513 and has a team-high 28 runs scored and seven doubles. Center fielder Courtney Storer has been one of Hays High's best defensive players, putting together some highlight reel catches, and she hasn't had an error this season.