The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

High School Sports

May 25, 2012

Chetopa seeded seventh in 2-1A state softball tournament

The city of Chetopa certainly knows how to celebrate a softball championship.

“When we came back from Uniontown after we won the league championship, we were met by the police and a bunch of cars and had a procession halfway down Main Street,” Chetopa coach Mike Ferraro said. “When we won the regional championship, the fire department joined in the procession, and there were hundreds of cars honking and people screaming. It was pretty exciting.”

The Green Hornets (17-5) are the No. 7 seed in the Class 2-1A state tournament and play second-seeded Ell Saline of Brookville (22-1) in a quarterfinal game at 5 p.m. today at the Trusler Sports Complex in Emporia.

It’s a matchup of an overpowering pitcher against a strong hitting team.

Chetopa junior Chelsea LePee has struck out almost half of the batters she has faced — 252 of 507 — and issued only 11 walks. Opponents have a total of 61 runs and 47 hits for a .095 batting average.

Ell Saline has a .502 batting average and averages more than 11 runs per game. More than a third of their 307 hits have gone for extra bases — 60 doubles, 39 triples and 20 home runs.

Junior Emily Work is batting .736 (53-of-72) with 10 doubles, 12 triples, five homers and 41 runs batted in. Sophomores Danielle Sprinkle and Sesely Omli are hitting .656 and .621, respectively, and Sprinkle leads the team with six homers and 42 RBI.

“They score a lot of runs,” Ferraro said. “They probably have six or seven batters in the lineup with .500 or above averages. Their pitcher has 74 strikeouts, so they must be really good in the field.

“We’re excited for the opportunity. We think we can play with anybody in the tournament. We have a pitcher who can keep us in games and kids who can hit the ball. We like to bunt and run.”

LePee also is Chetopa’s top hitter at .356, and she has 10 doubles, three homers and 16 RBI. First baseman Amanda Carrell is hitting .317 and has a team-high 19 RBI.

Catcher Laken Conard and left fielder Ellie Withington — the only seniors on the roster — and LePee are the only starters who played on the Hornets’ team that reached the state tournament in 2010.

The rest of the lineup has Kayla Underwood at second base, Kaylie Brady or Emily Johnson at shortstop, Allison Gilbert at third base, Erin Kabrey in center field and Jaya Johnson in right field.

“I have a really good core of juniors,” Ferraro said. “I knew we would be decent, but I didn’t know we’d be this good. Teamwork is the key. We don’t have a bunch of outstanding kids. We have a bunch of kids who play together and are outstanding when they play together.”

Chetopa won the Three Rivers League with an 11-1 record, splitting a doubleheader with Jayhawk-Linn, a 2-1 loss in nine innings followed by a 3-0 victory. Jayhawk-Linn (17-5) won its regional and is the No. 7 seed in 2-1A, so victories by Chetopa and Jayhawk-Linn would produce a rematch in the semifinal round on Saturday.

 

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