Twenty years ago, Reenie Stogsdill and Charlie Lauts met while playing slow pitch softball in Lawrence.
In 2000, Stogsdill, the Lawrence High softball head coach, and Lauts, her assistant, watched as the players they had coached for several summers took the Lions to the Class 6A state tournament.
Now, as the Lions prepare for their first state tournament trip since 2000, Stogsdill and Lauts both look back on their 20-year relationship fondly. Assistants on the Lawrence High staff have changed, but Stogsdill and Lauts have remained constants.
“We just kind of got together as a fluke,” Lauts said. “Our chemistry works really well together.”
In 1993, Lauts and Stogsdill started coaching summer ball together. The next year, they became assistants at Lawrence High. Stogsdill was promoted to varsity head coach after two years of being an assistant.
Lauts stayed right with her for the next 15 years, through thick and thin.
The Lions went through a rough stretch recently, with the low point coming in 2009 when they finished 1-20. Now, they’re 14-8 and the No. 8 seed in this year’s state tournament, taking on top-seeded Olathe East (22-0) at 10 a.m. on Friday at Kansas University’s Arrocha Ballpark.
“I think we had people wondering if I knew what I was doing, wondering if anybody knew what they were doing,” Stogsdill said of 2009.
The players started to doubt the system too, but then they realized they had to work harder to get where they wanted to be.
That work ethic, especially among the seniors, is something that has left an impression on Lauts.
“With this group of girls, it’s just so sweet because they’re so deserving of everything that’s coming to them right now,” Lauts said. “Just a great group of seniors. You don’t ever want them to graduate because you’d love to keep them forever.”
The JV coach for the Lions is Nicole Washburn, a former player at Kansas. Washburn helps with the pitchers and infielders.
Stephanie Magnuson, another assistant and C-team coach, played for Stogsdill at Lawrence High, so she understands Stogsdill’s coaching philosophy.
Abbey Shea has helped the Lions in a variety of different roles, which is impressive considering she just graduated from KU.
“She has been incredible,” Stogsdill said.
As the staff helps the Lions prepare for Olathe East, Stogsdill said there is a definite comparison between the 2000 team and this year’s team.
“The kids made it memorable, and I think that’s the same thing with this time,” Stogsdill said. “We’ve got such great kids that work so hard that they’re making it memorable.”