Archive for Thursday, June 18, 1998

S: UNITY

June 18, 1998

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The top team in the top women's slowpitch division of Lawrence's recreational leagues represents three northeast Kansas cities.

Ten of Mike's Sporting Goods' members live in Topeka, and three live in Kansas City. Their shirts are provided by a sponsor in ... Emporia.

``Officially, we're not really Mike's Sporting Goods,'' said Stacey Freeman, the team's manager and right-center fielder. ``It's weird how we got our name. One of the girls has known the guy forever. But that's all we have.''

Apparently it's enough. Mike's Sporting Goods (11-1) already has clinched the Women's One crown with two games still to play.

``We have some good sticks,'' Freeman said. ``We're really pretty solid everywhere. The thing with us is, we've known each other so long, we have a lot of good team unity. We don't have any attitudes. That's pretty much the key to it.''

Mike's landed in Lawrence just this year. Many of the team's members often had subbed for Beasley Insurance -- a fellow Women's One foe and Mike's archrival -- in year's past.

``We have a lot of friends in the Lawrence leagues,'' Freeman said. ``We know there's a lot of good competition there. We joined that league as opposed to the Topeka league because in Topeka the entry fees are astronomic, and the fields are cruddy. We played in Kansas City last year.

``Topeka is a softball town, but women's softball is dwindling. Too many women's teams are going to Kansas City or Lawrence. We think Lawrence is great. We'll be back. The field conditions are great and there's good competition.''

A handful of Mike's players played softball in college, including former Kansas University player Amy Aldridge.

Freeman played collegiate volleyball before transferring to KU and ``giving up sports.''

But Freeman said Mike's Sporting Goods isn't made up of diehards.

``Oh, we'll drink a beer afterward,'' she said. ``We just won't drink beforehand. We're pretty intense.

``We do have a good team and we have good team unity, but we'll let somebody know they have to step it up when we have to.''

Team members are: pitcher Terri Moore, catcher Julie Kizzar, first baseman Jean Moloney, second baseman Carolyn Altman, shortstop Rhonda Walter, third baseman Aldridge, left fielder Jo Wodtke, right-center fielder Amy Redman, right fielder Liz Olivarez, DH Brenda Soldani and substitutes Patti Phillips and Kala Loomis.

-- Andrew Hartsock's phone number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is ahartsock@ljworld.com.

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