LARNED — A year removed from finishing in third place in the Class 3A state softball tournament, Larned High School has begun this season 1-3.
While that may be a discouraging start to some, Larned head coach Carl Miller said that depends on the perspective.
“I told them after the win against Spearville, last year we started 2-2,” Miller said. “We’re only one win behind where we were at (last season). If we can get them to look at it like that, we’ve had 50 errors already, but we’re only one game behind.
“That’s a good way to look at it.”
Larned hosted Spearville on Thursday, March 29. Spearville won 14-4 in game one, but Larned was able to get a 10-6 win in the second game.
“What we’ve done our first three games of the season is we’re averaging 13 errors per game,” Miller said. “The last game, we had six. Losing the positions that we lost last year, the players we had last year, we’re just going to stick with the starters we have this year until they become what we think they have the talent for.
“As the errors go away, we’re going to get very competitive.”
The Lady Indians fought their way past McLouth 4-2 in the state tournament last season before losing to Osage City 6-1 in a semifinal game.
Larned recovered to beat Caney Valley 4-3 to take third place.
This year, the Lady Indians are without Brittney Perez, Kaileigh Dietrich, Raven Roth and Brittanie Miller, who were all seniors and All-Mid Central Activities Association softball team selections.
“Brittney Perez was our pitcher,” Miller said. “Kaileigh Dietrich plays at Barton (Community College) now. She was our shortstop, and Brittanie Miller was our centerfielder, so the positions that we lost were pretty important.”
Dietrich is now on the Barton softball team’s roster as a utility player.
Perez was a dominant pitcher, utility player and a strong batter for the Lady Indians last year.
“I want to say she was 14-5 pitching,” Miller said. “We just relied on her when we got in a bind. We could bring her in as a pitcher and she could get nine strikeouts in a game. We didn’t have to start her pitching, but if we got behind we could bring her in and she kind of shut them down.
“We don’t have that this year.”
This year, Larned is playing at 4A.
“Last year when we were in 3A, we really had a tough schedule,” Miller said. “We played Hays, Garden City, Great Bend. Spearville went to state. They were 1 or 2A, but they were pretty powerful. I think people might have overlooked us at regionals and in state.”
The Lady Indians have five players with varsity experience on their starting roster, two of them joining the varsity squad halfway through last season.
Miller said that he is still searching for a couple of team leaders to step up for his young team.
Senior pitcher Katie Seeman seems to want the job. She pitched all seven innings in the win over Spearville.
“I have to try to make sure that everybody stays up and not lose their mind set,” Seeman said. “Make sure that we all focus on playing together.
“After that win, I think we realized that we were better than we showed in the games that we lost.”
Larned faces Scott City today on the road in a doubleheader that begins at 4 p.m.
Larned High School
Lady Indians schedule
Today — At Scott City, 4 p.m.
April 13 — At Ellinwood, 4 p.m.
April 17 — At Hoisington, 4 p.m.
April 20 — ULYSSES, 4 p.m.
April 26 — HAYS, 4 p.m.
April 27 — At Russell, 4 p.m.
May 8 — MCAA Tournament, 4 p.m.
May 10 — HUTCHINSON TRINITY, 4 p.m.
May 14-17 — Class 4A regional tournament
May 25-26 — Class 4A state tournament