Following a 2019 sectionals loss to Potosi, just one game short of the state final four, Pleasant Hope softball coach Kevin McVey told his team he wanted the feeling of success and how fleeting it can be to stick with them.
McVey put the loss on his own shoulders.
“The teams that advance in the playoffs, you can't make any mistakes against them,” he said. “You have to score runs when you have the opportunity. You can't give them any extra outs. The girls are hoping for another chance.”
The Lady Pirates’ first spring season, after previously playing as a fall team, ended 27-4 with the 6-2 loss.
Pleasant Hope earned a district championship, knocking off two-time defending state champion Strafford in the process.
“Losing in the quarterfinals last season was tough,” McVey said, reflecting. “You are only one win away from the final four and a chance at a state title.”
McVey said the season was just one in a series of successes the program has achieved.
“But we are never satisfied, and we always want more,” he said.
The Lady Pirates’ next chance starts this season.
A matchup with Purdy had been set for Friday, March 20. However, Purdy has announced plans to close schools through Friday, April 3, canceling all sporting events.
Seven returning players with significant varsity playing time are part of Pleasant Hope’s program.
Seniors pitcher Jaydin Lee, outfielder Janae Shirk, catcher Lindsey Gettle and infielders Lydia Dunaway and Macie Warner return from last year’s team, as do junior infielder Bailey Stokes and sophomore outfielder/pitcher Jianna Halbrook.
McVey said junior Keighlyn Johnson also saw time in the outfield last year and should play a starting role.
Sophomore Katie Chapman is a possibility in the infield, he added, while freshmen Kylie Tucker and Jaylin Miner are “looking good and pushing for playing time.”
The Lady Pirates are without 2019 senior Abby Henson. She signed to play softball at Kansas City Kansas Community College after graduation.
In her stead, McVey said he'll look to the team’s five seniors to lead, all in their own way.
“Some of the girls are vocal, while others let their effort speak for them,” he said. “As pitcher and catcher, a little more will be expected of Jaydin and Lindsey, but they can't allow that to affect their play. They have to only do their best, and the rest will take care of itself. As a team, each player has a role to play. If they do, then we have a good chance to be successful.”
McVey said while the team has a number of returning starters, several may play different positions, and “it could take a while before they get comfortable.”
“Deciding on a batting lineup is something that could be an obstacle early on,” he said. “We have plenty of girls that are good hitters. It's just deciding how we can benefit the most.”
On the other side of the plate, he said, the Lady Pirates will work to limit the errors they made on defense that allowed Potosi to score six runs.
“If we can limit our mistakes on defense, I think we have the ability to score enough runs to win some games. Hopefully, by the end of the season, we will have it all figured out.”
The coach credited assistant coach Eric Derossett, who also leads the Pleasant Hope varsity basketball program, as a critical member of the program.
“He does so much for the team, and I depend on him a lot,” he said. “We are looking forward to a great season.”
Overall, he said, the Lady Pirates are taking one principle into the season.
“One play at a time,” he said. “One game at a time, a season to remember.”