Senior pitchers Meredith Morris and Kaley Delg have led Free State High’s softball team for the past three years.
Now the Firebirds are hoping their offense and defense will match them in regionals, starting at 2 p.m. today against Olathe North at Washburn Rural. FSHS went on the road and beat Olathe North, 5-3, on April 22.
“We’re pretty evenly matched,” FSHS coach Lee Ice said. “I think it’s one that could go either way.”
The Firebirds didn’t end the season the way they wanted, losing five of their last six games despite beating Lawrence High in their regular season finale. However, Ice said the team has been preparing for these regional games and knew they’d have to win two games no matter how they finished at the end of the regular season.
“We don’t dwell on the past,” Ice said. “We’ve been focusing on these two games and everybody is pretty good to go.”
At the beginning of the season, Free State coach Mike Hill and the rest of the baseball team didn’t know what their identity was going to be this season.
Sophomore lefty Parker Tietjen, senior right-hander Ryan Stagg, and junior Casey Hearnen have proved throughout the season that the Firebirds have the pitching to match anybody. Free State will face Topeka High (7-13) in the first round of regionals at Hummer Sports Park in Topeka at 4 p.m. today.
“Our staff has done a good job,” FSHS coach Mike Hill said. “They’ve improved throughout the year, and against a good Lawrence High lineup last week, I thought they were exceptional.”
The Firebirds won three of their past five games, with both losses coming in extra innings. Though they’ve had trouble with timely hits in losses, they’re confident everything will come together for a magical regional run.
“We’re excited and ready to go,” Hill said. “This is what the kids have worked for all year for.”