MOUNDRIDGE — Moundridge second-year softball coach Aaron Annis said it may be his players that have to calm his nerves rather than the other way around.
“With this being my first state run as a coach, I’m excited and probably more nervous than my players,” said Annis, whose Wildcats open state play in Pratt at 7 p.m. Thursday against Ellinwood in a 4-5 matchup that generally signifies the most competitive game of the day. “But I think that's a good thing. Most of my players went to state 2 years ago as freshmen and sophomores, so they have been there before. If we stick to our game plan for the week, we will be just fine.”
The Wildcats are 15-7 on the year while the Eagles are 17-6. The winner will go up against the winner of No. 1 seed Sedan and Pittsburg Colgan at 11 a.m. Friday in the semifinals. Sedan is 21-1 and Colgan has by far the worst record at 4-19, but it played mostly bigger schools during the regular season and raced through its regional by some big margins.
In the other half of the draw, perennial power Chase County (21-2) takes on Sacred Heart (15-8), while Leon-Bluestem (17-2) is matched against Wabaunsee (15-8).
The finals are 2 p.m. Friday.
“I think we are happy with our seeding for this week,” Annis said. “Ellinwood is similar to us as a team. They have a good pitcher that throws a lot of strikes and a good all-around hitting lineup. We will need to be ready to play solid defense against their hitters. If we play our game that we have been playing all year, it should be a great first game in the state tournament for us.”
The Wildcats’ strength is from hitters 2 to 6 in the order with Chelsey Knight (.463), Zaelynn Foth (.447), Jadah Moore (.377), Keira Sebrant (.361) and Zizi Sebrant (also .361) carrying the load.
Moore is expected to get the start on the mound in Game 1. Zizi Sebrant has been MHS’ No. 2 most of the season.