Softball News Archive 2018-2019

Larks eager to compete as softball season approaches

It’s a new season for Lark softball. Head Coach Andrew Sharp leads the team for the 10th year, but it will also his last in charge of the Hesston College program. Coming off of two consecutive winning seasons in the ultra-competitive National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region VI, the Larks look to continue that momentum as the join the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC).

The team’s strengths this season will center around the idea of team unity. The Larks desire to be on the same page and bring an eagerness to compete.

“We expect to hold a daily standard of a team-first mentality,” said Sharp. “We are off to a good start and I expect we will be completive throughout our conference schedule”.

The entire freshman class is expected to step up right away. This will allow the team to find that competitive edge from day one on the diamond. Lexi Avalos and Kaylen Lassley are the two top sophomore returners on the Hesston College roster. They will contribute at a high level of both offensively and defensively. The team is strong up the middle and will rely on three pitchers to add depth, talent and flexibility to the lineup.

“We are eager to get outside,” said Sharp, “but we have been productive thus far in our indoor practices. The season is quickly approaching, but we will be ready.”

The Larks will open their season at home on Saturday, February 2, as they take on Tabor College JV here in Hesston. First pitch will take place at noon. They will follow that with a road trip to western Kansas to take on Dodge City and Garden City Community Colleges. The will return to Hesston for a Wednesday matchup vs Central Community College on February 13.

42 Larks named to NJCAA All-Academic Teams

The Hesston College athletic department announces that 42 student-athletes have been named National Junior College Athletic Association Academic All-Americans. To be an All-American a student needs to complete a minimum of 24 credits over the two semester school year. The 42 student-athletes represents 24% of Hesston’s total athletes on campus. Congratulations to the following students:

Named to the first team with a GPA of 4.0 were Landon Baer (North Lima, Ohio), men’s soccer; Jenna Boller (Kalona, Iowa), women’s soccer; Jeremy Deckinger (Wichita, Kan.), baseball; Jade Gleason (Brush, Colo.), volleyball; Cal Hartley (Benton, Kan.), men’s basketball; Luke Hertzler (Harrisonburg, Va.) men’s soccer; Kylee Kasselman (Claflin, Kan.), volleyball; Kate Kilmer (Goshen, Ind.), women’s cross country; Cassidy King (Cochranville, Pa.), volleyball; Kaylen Lassley (Salina, Kan.), softball; Levi Litwiller (Hopedale, Ill.), men’s cross country; Nicole Loewen (Hutchinson, Kan.), women’s tennis; Taylor Longenecker (Harrisonburg, Va.), men’s track and field; Faith Manickam (Hesston, Kan.), women’s soccer; Elizabeth Miller (Archbold, Ohio), women’s cross country; Rio Mori (Osaka, Japan), women’s tennis; Curtis Oesch (Caldwell, Idaho), men’s tennis; Hannah Rosenbaum (Richmond, Texas), women’s tennis; Jaelyn Rufenacht (Pettisville, Ohio), softball; Jenna Schneider (Lodi, Calif.), softball; Morgan Sterner (Lehi, Utah), women’s basketball; Harune Suzuki (Osaka, Japan), women’s tennis; Bryson White (Fort Worth, Texas), men’s soccer; and Sadie Winter (Newton, Kan.), women’s cross country.
Lark athletes named to the 2018-19 NJCAA All-Academic second team
Named to the All-Academic Second Team with a GPA of 3.80 to 3.99 were Sam Amarante (Lodi, Calif.), softball; Kenzie Brown (Estes Park, Colo.), women’s soccer; Andre Eanes (Harrisonburg, Va.) men’s cross country; Faith Hallmark (El Dorado, Kan.), volleyball; Zac Neely (Ada, Okla.), men’s basketball; Caitlyn Nichols (Mesa, Colo.), women’s basketball; and Payton Yehnert (Parker, Colo.) women’s soccer.
Lark athletes named to the 2018-19 NJCAA All-Academic third team
Named to the All-Academic Third Team with a GPA of 3.60 to 3.79 were Alexis Avalos (Yucaipa, Calif.), softball; Savannah Bontrager (Milford, Neb.), women’s cross country; Sierra Broce (Goddard, Kan.), women’s cross country; Annalys Hanna (Fraser, Colo.), volleyball; Jacob Harris (El Paso, Texas), baseball; Shaelyn Headrick (La Junta, Colo.), women’s basketball; Preston Judd (Hayden, Ala.), baseball; Kaede Nakada (Tokyo, Japan), women’s tennis; Miho Okuda (Chiba-ken, Japan), women’s soccer; Haley Unruh (Wilmore, Kan.), volleyball; and Lindsey Yoder (Millersburg, Ohio), women’s soccer.

Yasin, Deckinger named Lark Athletes of the Year at athletic banquet

Athletes, coaches and athletic staff gathered this evening to celebrate the 2017-18 school year. Participants recognized academic achievement, team success, individual accomplishment, the growth of the student-athletes at Hesston College and presented the department’s highest awards – Athlete of the Year – to male and female recipients.

Chosen by vote of the athletic department staff, the award goes to the students who best exemplify high athletic achievement, positive lifestyle, contribution to the greater campus community, sportsmanship and a strong representative of Hesston College, both on and off campus.

The 2017-2018 recipients are Ashley Yasin (softball) and Jeremy Deckinger (baseball).

Ashley Yasin has had a tremendous career. She has excelled as a nursing student and from the mound for the Larks softball team. She has amassed 31 career wins, a school record, leading the team to its best two seasons in history. Her career records also include 371.2 innings pitched and 352 strikeouts. Her most impressive statistic is leading the NJCAA in strikeouts during the 2017-18 regular season.

“Ashley has been the epitome of a team leader and a competitor,” said Head Coach Andrew Sharp. “She has consistently performed well and has always given her team a chance to win. Ashley demands a lot of herself, and through her dedication and hard work has cemented herself as one the best athletes in school history. Her accolades are very well deserved.”

Jeremy Deckinger “has been the model of what it takes to be a successful student-athlete,” said Head Coach Kyle Howell. “He refuses to let anything, either academically or athletically, stand in the way of his success.”

Deckinger’s on field accomplishments include being top ten all time at Hesston College in each of the following categories: career RBI (52), single season hits (44), single season doubles (10), and single season RBI (36). He will graduate as an NJCAA Academic All-American, a certified private and commercial pilot and a flight instructor.

“He’s one of my favorite players I’ve ever coached,” said Howell, “and a phenomenal human being.”

Also recognized for their on field accomplishments were those who have received National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Regional awards.

  • Jerrica Brown – 2017 All Region second team, softball
  • Coye Campbell – All Region honorable mention, men’s basketball
  • Faith Hallmark – All Region first team, volleyball
  • Zac Neely – All Region first team, men’s basketball
  • Ally Steiner – 2017 All Region second team, softball
  • Ashley Yasin – 2017 All Region second team, softball

Hesston College competes in Region VI of the National Junior College Athletic Association. The Larks have 12 athletic programs. The Larks will join and compete in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference starting with the 2018-19 school year.

Larks take two from Bethel JV on sophomore night

On a day meant to recognize the impact that the sophomores had on the Lark softball program, it was appropriate that they shined in two wins over Bethel College’s JV team. The Larks took game one 6-3 and game two 9-4.

Sophomores Brianna Baca, Jordan Walton, Josie Noll, Sierrah Long, Ashley Yasin, Kendall Richardson, Joceylyn Chavez, Jaelyn Rufenacht and Taylor Martin have amassed the greatest two-year win total in Hesston College softball history; 26 regular season wins in each of their seasons as a Lark. Monday night they continued their dominance. Baca went 6-6 on the night, Noll and Chavez had three RBI each and Yasin hit a home run and added to her career strikeout count, now at 343.

“This has been a great class of players to coach,” said Head Coach Andrew Sharp. “It was fun to honor them last night and celebrate such quality careers.”

This is not the end however. The Larks will face Hutchinson Community College in the first round of the NJCAA Region VI playoffs on Saturday in Hutchinson. “We like our matchup against a very good Hutchinson team” said Sharp. “We are looking for the program to take the next step and we feel that this is the team, and Saturday is the day that this can happen.”

The game begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, at Fun Valley Sports Complex in Hutchinson.

Softball, volleyball and nursing bring Californian to Kansas

Coming from southern California (Highland), Sierrah Long thought twice about attending college in the middle of Kansas. Turns out Hesston College had a lot more to offer her than she originally thought.

As a nursing major, most schools, such as California State University-San Marcos and California State University-Monterey Bay, didn’t give her the option to do sports in addition to her rigorous career path.

“The schools said I can’t be an athlete and a nursing major at the same time,” Long said. “They thought it was too much work, and at bigger schools, athletics would come first. If I had a clinical or a class that overlapped into practice, I’d miss the class. They wouldn’t accommodate for my academics while I was playing on their team.”

Luckily, head softball coach Andrew Sharp ’99 offered her the chance to do both. And soon after that, head volleyball coach Deedee (Martin) ’02 Landes wanted Long on her team as well. Landes saw her potential even after Long had been passed over by Hesston’s previous coach.

“One day in July before coming to Hesston, Deedee called me and said she saw my recruiting video in a pile of turned away athletes,” she said.  “Deedee said, ‘I don’t know why you were turned away! I want you to play for my team.’”

After consulting her parents and Sharp, Long said yes and joined the volleyball team at the beginning of her freshman year.

“I was doing both sports during the fall semester of my freshman year,” she said. “Coach Sharp would schedule softball after volleyball practice so I would always be at practice. Before volleyball games, I would have batting practice.”

Sierrah Long volleyball
As an outsider hitter for the Larks, Sierrah Long looks to record another kill.

This year, she figured out a way to do only volleyball in the fall and only softball in the spring, making her schedule a little more bearable, she said.

Juggling two sports wasn’t completely foreign to Long.

“In high school, I played volleyball and softball all four years,” she said. “Those coaches were able to work with me, and we split our season in half. I was a fall athlete and a spring athlete. Even now, I only have one sport to play at a time.”

After two years of playing for two teams, Long has found value in her Hesston experience. Her greatest achievement comes from being a dependable teammate to other players.

“For the volleyball team, I don’t have a scholarship, but it didn’t take away from the love that I have for the game,” she said. “I felt like they looked up to me as a leader and asked me questions about things that they needed help with. I feel like that’s an achievement in itself, to be that person that people look up to.”

Her teams give plenty back to Long and help her outside of athletics. As a faith-oriented group, her volleyball team helped with classes such as Biblical literature, a subject Long had never encountered before. And with many nursing majors on the softball team, she has a go-to group to help in that subject area.

“The volleyball team is like a built-in family,” Long said. “They were the ones who pushed me into the Hesston Experience and had me try new things and showed me the ropes. The softball team is where a majority of my core friends are. They became my second built-in family.”

While her teammates greatly influenced her time at Hesston, her coaches also became a big part of her college experience.

“Deedee is my mom at Hesston,” she said. “If I have anything to deal with, I know I can go knock on her door. Coach Sharp is the guy I go to talk to if I’m struggling on the field or if something needs to be changed.”

Both of her coaches are impressed by the person and athlete Long has become.

“The word that keeps coming to mind is ‘presence,’” Sharp said. “Her position on the field is right in the middle of the action, and that is appropriate given her play-making ability and respect she has from those playing around her.”

Landes also sees her consistency and leadership qualities on the court.

“I have learned that sometimes the best leaders aren’t those that verbally state their expectation but that lead through example and positive spirit,” Landes said. “She also has shown me how to balance the things in life that matter. She isn’t caught up in her athletic ability. She is grounded.”

 

by Sarah Miller ’18, first published in the Hesston Horizon.

Larks take two from Independence

Lark softball defeated Independence Community College 8-2 and 3-2 yesterday in Region VI competition in Hesston. Hesston College moved to 21-16 on the season. The Larks are inching closer to the wins in a season record. They need to win half of their remaining 12 games to improve on last year’s record setting season.

Game one got off to the perfect start with three-up and three-down for the Larks defense. In the bottom of the first, the Hesston College offense was smart and efficient, taking advantage of an error, hit by a pitch and two walks. Making sure the ball got into play coupled with quality base running allowed the Larks to close the first with a 3-0 advantage that Independence would never overcome. The Larks added three more runs in the fourth and two in the fifth to win 8-2.

Game two took a lot more quality and a walk-off two-RBI hit from Lexi Avalos in the seventh to earn victory. The Larks got on the board first with an unusual play, a double steal. Kaylen Lassley attempted to steal second while Taylor Martin was on third. As the catcher threw out Lassley at second, Martin stole home. This gave Hesston College the 1-0 advantage until Independence got one back in the third and went ahead with another run in the fifth.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, the Larks were down 2-1. Martin was on second and Brianna Baca was on third as Avalos stepped up to the plate. Singling a hard ground ball into right field was all Hesston College needed to complete the come-from-behind win and take both games on the day.

“A walk-off is special in a low scoring game,” said Head Coach Andy Sharp. “It is a lot of fun to play good defense and have great pitching and then get the win in that way. It was a good fight and we are excited to keep the momentum going in Region play.”

Avalos went 4-6 on the day including that two RBI walk-off. Martin also had a nice day with two RBIs and four runs scored. Ashley Yasin added two wins and 13 strikeouts to her season and career record totals at Hesston College.

The Larks will be back in NJCAA Region VI action on Friday at Neosho County Community College and on Saturday at Allen Community College.

Ashley Yasin leads on the field, in the classroom

Hesston College prides itself in making sure students are not just a number. But what about 117, or 8.97 or 25? What do those number mean to the Hesston College softball team? They stand for strikeouts this season, strikeouts per game and total Lark wins. All numbers that Ashley Yasin has made her own on the softball diamond for the Larks this season.

Yasin broke the all-time wins record at Hesston College (24) by defeating the #9 Cowley Tigers last week. She leads all NJCAA DII pitchers for the most strikeouts in the country with 117 on the year. Yasin also holds the career strikeouts record at Hesston College with 253 Ks and counting in just a year and a half on the mound.

All of these things make Yasin stand out on the field, but what is more impressive is how she stands out around campus, as a teammate and in the classroom.

“I’ve known Ashley for less than a year now,” says freshman catcher Sam Amarante, “and she has been nothing but an awesome friend and teammate to me. She does a very good job of taking freshmen under her wing and making them feel included, continuously making an effort to build a friendship outside of softball.”

In the classroom, Yasin is also making an impact. As a nursing student – one of Hesston’s most challenging majors – she must stay on top of her game at every level.

“I can tell you that she is excelling academically, responsible and managing to balance her academic and athletic load very well,” said Director of Nursing Education Becky Bartell. “She is a positive young lady who is a joy to be around.”

Head Softball Coach Andy Sharp echoes more of the sentiment. “Since arriving on campus, Ashley has been exactly what we needed her to be,” said Sharp. “She has consistently worked hard and given her team a chance to be successful. I am grateful that she made the move from California to Kansas, and I could not be more proud of what Ashley has accomplished in her time on the Hesston campus.”

How is someone successful in the classroom and on the field at Hesston? Teammate Jaelyn Rufenacht sums it up well. “Her success is something she has worked to earn, not only have I seen her work to dominate in the circle, but she is constantly working to improve as a teammate. Ash was one of my first friends on the team and I have loved watching her become the player and teammate she is. I am going to miss the long days on the field with her.”

Not every story ends with breaking records and teammates and staff proud of who you are becoming. But, that is the goal.

Larks split with Cowley, Yasin earns wins record

Game one of yesterday’s softball doubleheader could not have finished on a higher note. At Cowley College in Region VI competition, the Larks pulled out a late comeback win, defeating the Tigers 6-5. The big story however, is that Ashley Yasin got the win on the mound for the Larks, giving her the all-time wins record at Hesston College. This, her 24th win of her career, was done in dramatic style.

Going down 3-0 in the first inning the Larks had to claw themselves back into the game. It started in the top of the second with Sam Amarante leading off with a hit. She would eventually be driven home to get the Larks on the board. Each team scored a run in the fourth making it 4-2. The top of the fifth inning the Larks were able to tie the game as the top of the order came through. Again Amarante makes a play, driving in both Taylor Martin and Lexi Avalos. The game was now tied 4-4. Each team scored again in the seventh making it 5-5 and sending the game into extra innings.

After a fruitless eighth inning, Sierra Long stepped to the plate with two outs. With the count at 1-1, one quick swing of the bat was all it took, Long drove the ball to left field, home run Larks. The defense would stand tall with no outs and bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to give the Larks the win and Yasin the record.

“I thought our group displayed a ton of poise at keys moments in the opening game,’ said Head Coach Andy Sharp. “It was an impressive win that our kids fought hard for. We need continued growth in some areas, of course, and will continue to work to get better. Overall, there were a lot of great takeaways from Tuesday’s games.”

Yasin finished the game with four strikeouts. On top of Long’s home run, she had 2 RBI, as did Amarante. The Larks fell in game two 24-11 taking their record to 15-6 and 2-2 in NJCAA Region VI play. They will be at home against Garden City on Saturday, March 10, with first pitch at 1 p.m.

Larks take two from Storm

Softball moved to 9-4 yesterday as they recorded two wins over the Storm of Southeast Community College, Beatrice, Neb. The Larks dominated game one, winning 7-1. They had to come from behind to win game two, 9-6.

Game one saw Ashley Yasin dominate from the mound. Yasin’s 14 strikeouts kept the Storm off the base paths and allowed for Hesston College cruse to victory.

Game two was not quite as comfortable. The Larks were down 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning. Home runs from Sierrah Long and Sam Amarante sparked the rally. Long’s two-run shot gave the Larks a lead they would not relinquish. Yasin again had a major impact in game two, coming off the bench in relief. She picked up four more strikeouts, giving her 18 on the day. She picked up the win in both games.

“Ashley had a night to remember, for sure,” said Head Coach Andy Sharp. “It was good to come from behind and get a win. I thought we were close to scoring early in game two. Our lineup did an excellent job of staying focused on getting quality at bats instead of trying to get everything back in one swing. We put pressure on their defense and were able to get the win.”

The Larks will be back in action on Wednesday, February 28. They will be at home for a doubleheader to take on Bethany College JV at 4 p.m. On Sunday, March 4, Kansas State University’s club team will come for two games, starting at noon. Then the Larks will travel to start off their Regional competition against Cowley College before taking on Garden City Community College on Saturday, March 10.

Larks softball goes 2-0 on Arkansas trip

Hesston College softball went 2-0 at North Arkansas College on Saturday. Friday’s doubleheader at Cottey College was not played due to poor weather but this did not stop the Larks on Saturday beating the Pioneers 15-3 and 13-2.

The Larks got the bats started right away scoring 1, 3 and 3 in the first three innings. Scoring 15 on 16 hits, the Larks really put together an offensive showcase. Sierrah Long went 4-4, scoring three times and driving in one run. Adding RBIs were Jenna Schneider (3), Josie Noll (2), Reese McCrary, Taylor Martin, Lexi Avalos, Sam Amarante and Ashley Yasin. Yasin was on the mound registering nine strikeouts and giving up five hits.

Game two in Arkansas was more of the same. The Larks scored four in the second, two in the third and seven in the fourth, putting the game out of reach quickly. Lexi Avalos and Adrianna Ruiz both went 3 for 3 with Ruiz scoring three times while driving in two. Sierra Long had another great offensive game scoring three times, stealing three bases as well as driving in two. Kaylen Lassley was on the mound for the win giving up five hits in five innings pitched.

Hesston College will host their first home game of the season on Wednesday, February 14, at 3 p.m. against Central Community College. They will follow that up with another home game on Saturday, February 17, against Garden City Community College at 1 p.m.

Lark softball opens 2-3 on Texas swing

Hesston College softball began their season on the road this weekend at the Cowtown Classic in Fort Worth, Texas. It started off hot with the Larks beating Ranger College 6-4 and Seward Community College 12-4 on Friday. The third game of the day saw the Larks lose to North Central Texas College 10-2. Saturday they could just not quite get going as Hesston College fell to Northern Oklahoma College-Enid 10-5 and Weatherford College 26-3.

After a tight win in game one, game two started off quickly for the Larks after going down 1-0 to Seward in the top of the first. With bases loaded, freshman Sam Amarante stepped up to the plate. She smacked a line drive to center field. Taylor Martin and Lexi Avalos scored while Kendall Richardson ended up on third. The Larks kept the pressure, scoring again as Sierra Long grounded to second for the RBI scoring Richardson. The Larks cruised onto victory with Amarante leading the way on offense, driving in 4 while going 3-3 for the game.

“Overall it was a good test for our group,” said Head Coach Andrew Sharp. “It was good to get a new season kicked off. We showed we have some talent and can compete well.”

The Larks will remain on the road this week as they travel to Cottey Collage on Friday and play at North Arkansas College on Saturday. They will then host Central Community College on Wednesday, February 14 at 3 and 5 p.m.

Softball team eyes successful 2018 season

After what was arguably the best season in Hesston College softball history, setting an all-time wins record with 26, the Larks are reloaded and plan to build on last year’s success. Head Coach Andrew Sharp see no reason they cannot keep moving forward this year.

“Our sophomores will have a great deal of influence on our success this spring.” It will be hard to replace those who have graduated with the Larks losing Hesston College all-time home run and RBI leader in Jerrica Brown and career hits and stolen bases leader Ally Steiner.

The spine of the team is what Sharp sees as their strength. Sophomores Sierrah Long and Kendall Richardson will play major roles in the infield while Taylor Martin will lead the outfield. Freshman catcher Sam Amarante will also be someone to keep an eye on.

“We have good kids with great leadership potential, and we are excited to meet the challenges of our schedule,” says Sharp.

This schedule will start with a trip to Texas for the Cowtown Classic on Friday and Saturday February 2-3. They will continue to be on the road for their first 7 games, finally hosting Central Community College on Wednesday, February 14, at 3 p.m.

Softball falls to Neosho in regional

Taylor Martin heads home to score the Larks’ only run of the day.

Hesston College softball, seeded 8, dropped a double header on Tuesday to seventh seeded Neosho County Community College in Chanute, 7-0, 9-1 (6 inn.) in the first round of Region VI/District E playoffs.

The Larks saw success against Neosho in early March, splitting a two game series winning 9-1, before losing 8-0 at Hesston City Diamond. On Tuesday the Panthers pitchers stole the show, stifling the Larks all day, holding Hesston to a single run.

In game one, the Panthers jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the first inning off freshman pitcher Ashley Yasin (Lake Isabella, Calif.). Neosho added two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth for the 7-0 win. The second game saw two solo home runs for the Panthers early on, and a five run fourth inning to grab a 7-0 lead over the Larks. Freshman, Brinkli Jones’s (Cache Valley, Utah) hit an RBI double, scoring freshman Taylor Martin (Lancaster, Pa.) to tally the Larks’ only run of the day and bring the score to 7-1. The tough Panthers pitching staff allowed no walks in both games. Neosho tacked on two insurance runs in the sixth to end things at 9-1.

The Larks finished with a 26-26 record, capturing the most wins for the program, and will look to build on their success in the 2018 season.

“We never were able to get much going offensively. Give credit to Neosho – they played great, hit the ball well. No errors or walks the whole day,” commented Head coach Andrew Sharp. “It was a very positive season for HC Softball, with a lot of momentum to build on for next season.”

The Panthers advance to the second round where they will travel to Hummer Park in Topeka to take on top seeded Cowley College on Saturday.

Larks top Jays to finish regular season

Hesston College softball added two more wins to their record breaking season as they knocked off the visiting Tabor College Blue Jays 3-0, 10-2 (5 innings) Wednesday evening on sophomore night at Hesston City Diamond.

Game 1 –
Sophomore Jerrica Brown added to her home run record (15) with a solo home run and freshman pitcher Ashley Yasin (Lake Isabella, Calif.) tossed a 3-hitter as the Larks blanked the Blue Jays 3-0.

Game 2 –
Freshman pitcher Chantel Purcella (Albuquerque, N.M.) threw a complete game allowing 6 hits, 0 earned runs, 0 walks and a strikeout. Bailyn Piecewicz went 1-for-2 at the plate with a double, two runs scored and a pair of RBI. Freshmen Brianna Baca (Albuquerque, N.M.) and Sierrah Long (Highland, Calif.) each scored twice. Sophomore, Ally Steiner (Phoenix, Ariz.) added an RBI going 2-for-3 at the dish.

“It was a great way for our sophomores to go out. They represent a fantastic class, good students, etc. We will miss their contributions on the field and off. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors,” Head Coach Andrew Sharp commented following the sweep of the Blue Jays.

The Larks finish the regular season with a 26-22 record, receiving the #8 seed and will head to Chanute on Tuesday, May 2, to take on the seventh seeded Neosho County Community College Panthers in the first round of Region VI playoffs. First pitch is 11 a.m. The winner advances to face top seeded Cowley College on May 6 in Topeka.

Softball enjoying record breaking season

Records are meant to be broken. Just ask the Hesston College Larks softball team. With a two-game sweep of the Independence CC Pirates earlier in the week in Independence (Kan.), Hesston softball reached 24 wins (24-18). This surpasses the program’s record for wins in a season – 23 during the 2012 season, Coach Sharp’s third year at the helm. That year they finished 23-29, eventually falling in Topeka to Labette CC in the second round of Region VI playoffs.

Along with the team accomplishment, a couple Larks have reached individual milestones during this record breaking spring. Sophomore first baseman Jerrica Brown (Clovis, Calif.) has become the Larks’ all-time leader in home runs (14) along with runs batted in (89). Sophomore catcher Ally Steiner (Phoenix, Ariz), who is headed to the University of Northern Colorado (NCAA DI), has tied the records for the career hits (113) and stolen bases (60).

Brown and Steiner have received plenty of help, as the Larks’ bats have been solid from top to bottom, led by Sierrah Long’s 32 RBI. “Our lineup has been quite balanced with a lot of production from a lot of different players,” Coach Sharp commented. “We have good athletes all around the defense and our offense brings a little bit of everything to the table.”

Pitchers Ashley Yasin (Lake Isabella, Calif.) and Chantel Purcella (Albuquerque, N.M.) have been extremely consistent this spring, combining to go 24-17 and accounting for all of the team’s 24 wins. Yasin has struck out 121 batters, while Purcella has fanned 86. “They (Yasin and Purcella) have been outstanding. Ashley’s 121 strikeouts sets the all-time single season record. Chantel, not far behind, will likely finish as #2 in a season for strikeouts,” Sharp added.

The Larks (24-22) followed up their performance with a tough double header loss to Cowley College before dropping both games to #8 Johnson County (5-4, 7-2) competing with one of the best teams in the country. Even so, the Larks will have an opportunity to head into Region VI playoffs next weekend (April 29-30) on a positive note as they host one more double header to conclude the regular season. “We’re looking forward to a great showing in post season play,”” Sharp commented.

Next up – The Larks will look to add to their season’s win total when they welcome Tabor College on Wednesday, April 26, for sophomore recognition night. First pitch against the Blue Jays is at 5 p.m. from Hesston City Diamond.