The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

High School Sports

July 12, 2012

Leppla to concentrate on softball coaching at Wyandotte

John Leppla recently stepped down as girls basketball coach at Wyandotte High School to concentrate on his duties as softball coach in the fall (fast pitch) and spring (slow pitch).

J.K. Wayne, girls basketball coach at Ketchum the past eight years, is Leppla’s replacement.

Former Grove boys coach Sam Fairchild is Wayne’s replacement at Ketchum.

Wayne, of course, will face his former team this season in the revamped Lucky ‘7’ Conference.

Leppla, who was the Wyandotte head coach for one year after replacing Kara Kinney, said Thursday he had 100 percent respect for Wayne

“I really enjoyed basketball, though,” Leppla said. “Plus, it served as a change of pace.”

Wayne is a graduate of Wynona High School (1985) and Northeastern State of Tahlequah. Wayne and his wife Lori — from Adair — have two children — Bethany, 15, and Kenyon, 11.

“Wynona? It’s between Pawhuska and Hominy in Osage County,” Wayne said. “I began coaching in the Hominy district and finished as its head girls coach for seven years before moving to Ketchum. I was hired by Wyandotte in May.”

Class 2A Ketchum, previously a member of the Lucky ‘7,’ has been in the Northeast 6 Conference, Wayne said.

Wayne will coach grades 6-12 in girls basketball at Class 2A Wyandotte. Softball will occupy Leppla’s time for the Bears.

Said Wayne: “We’ve played a few summer league games. I haven’t seen all of them together at one time, however. They work hard. They’re lifting. We’ll be OK.”

Leppla guided Wyandotte to a 21-8 record in slow pitch spring. The Bears were 27-12 in fast pitch in the fall.

“We’ll be young,” Leppla said of his fifth season in fast pitch. “We graduated three key players — they contributed for four years — in Allison (Douthit), Kourtney (Leppla) and Alex Lyons. We lost to Oktaha — the state runner-up to Panama — in the regional tournament.

“We’ve won four district titles in the four years,” Leppla said. “But we’ve been second each season (in regionals).

“We’ll have one or two seniors, maybe no juniors, some eight sophomores and probably four freshmen,” Leppla said of an early roster.

The slow pitch Bears lost to Dale at the Oktaha Regional.

“I believe Dale, which has a bunch of free swingers, hit 25 homers in its two regional games,” Leppla said. “They hit more than 40 at state. They were amazing — it didn’t matter how you pitched to them — and they probably again will win state.”

Leppla, who’ll be in his third year as the slow pitch Bears’ head coach, said the speedy Lyons signed with the University of Tulsa for track.

“Alex, who academically is very sound, is rehabbing (after a knee injury in basketball),” Leppla said. “TU expects her to be ready next spring.”

Leppla, a graduate of Ketchum (1987), attended Northeastern Oklahoma A&M for a year before finishing at NSU. He had coaching stints at Spavinaw, Jay and Welch before moving to Wyandotte.

Leppla wasn’t complaining about Wyandotte’s 13-12 finish in basketball.

“We lost Alex (Lyons), Morgan Weisinger (concussion) and Ashlee Waybright (ankle) in the same game,” Leppla explained. “Later, we lost Jill Manning to an ankle injury before the playoffs.”

Notes: Jill and John Leppla graduated the last of three athletes/daughters in Kourtney. John said oldest daughter Kayla played basketball and softball at Jay. Middle daughter Kirsten, a shortstop for the Bears, has transferred from Rogers State of Claremore to Missouri Southern for her final two years. She was playing both infield and outfield positions at Rogers State. Kirsten has turned to education/coaching after considering accounting. ... Wayne said Larry Callison retired as boys coach at Ketchum and his son Grant has taken the reins. Quipped Wayne: “Larry is a multi-retiree.”

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