Jill Bradney realized it was time to try something radical.
During her first 14 years as softball coach at Perry-Lecompton High, Bradney's teams had been runner-up in Class 4A regionals umpteen times.
"Usually it was to Holton," Bradney said. "But it was Marysville two years ago."
So in an attempt to clear the last hurdle, Bradney decided she needed to switch four of her right-handed batters into left-handed, slap-style hitters.
"They had all hit around .100 batting right-handed," Bradney said, "but I knew they had such great speed we had to get them on base."
Those four - Chelsea Williams, Sandy Robbins, Emily Huerter and Daffodil Reumond - all improved their batting averages by at least 125 points by switching and are one of the reasons the Kaws finally have thrown the second-place monkey off their backs.
Perry-Lecompton will be making its first state appearance since the school adopted softball as a varsity sport 15 years ago. The Kaws (20-2) are seeded fourth and will meet No. 5 seed Colby (18-2) at 7 p.m. Friday in Salina.
Perry-Lecompton earned its first state trip by blanking long-time nemesis Holton, 6-0, in the regional championship game at Basehor-Linwood. Earlier, it had taken a two-run home run by shortstop Shelby Erickson to trip the host Bobcats, 3-2, and earn the right to battle Holton.
Erickson is the Kaws' lone sophomore starter. The other eight are juniors. Erickson is a niece, incidentally, of Erin Erickson, a former P-L standout who played softball at Missouri University a few years ago.
Erickson is joined on the infield by third baseman Williams, second baseman Huerter and first baseman Erin Powell. In the outfield are Robbins, Reumond and Samantha Kopp. LeeAnne Pringle is the catcher and Courtney Kasson the pitcher.
Kasson has posted a 19-0 record in the circle and leads the Kaws with a .523 batting average. Her impressive junior season has boosted her stock among college scouts.
"I'm glad she's getting some recognition," Bradney said, "because in the past, Perry-Lecompton has been kind of overlooked."
As a fourth seed and with no prior state experience, the Kaws have the potential to be overlooked in this year's state meet. Then again, they also could have tourney jitters for the same reason, although Bradney doesn't believe that's likely.
"They really haven't played nervous this season," said Bradney, who was an All-American third baseman at Kansas University in the early 1980s.
That probably has something to do with the philosophy the players adopted before the season.
"Their motto has been," Bradney said, "that to get something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done."