Mar 28, 2024

SES Softball Begins One Last Ride With the Ultimate Prize in Mind

Posted Mar 28, 2024 5:08 PM

Lead Sportswriter - Salina Post

Salina Regional Orthopedic & Sports Medicine- Your home-field advantage starts here.
Salina Regional Orthopedic & Sports Medicine- Your home-field advantage starts here.

This softball season is gearing up to be a special one for Southeast of Saline.

Yes, the team finished the 2023 campaign 22-4, with a share of a league title and a win at state.

Yes, the team graduated just three seniors and will be seen as a force to be reckoned with in Class 3A this year.

And yes, the team does return two of the top pitchers in the state, and a lineup as deadly as it is experienced from top to bottom.

But despite all that, this season represents one last ride, for a group of players who have been with the same coach for the better part of 15 years.

“I’ve been coaching a lot of these girls since they were 4 years old,” SES head coach Pesha Ptacek said. “I intended to hand some lucky high school coach the gift of these girls that I had taught to play and love the game the right way, it just so happened that that lucky coach was me.”

Under Ptacek's leadership, this group, including the three seniors who came before them, have reignited Southeast’s softball program, punching tickets to state, winning league titles, and dominating their competition.

On Thursday afternoon, when the Smoky Valley Vikings come to town, that ride will officially get underway, and the Lady Trojan’s quest for glory will begin.

“We’re excited and we’re ready to get out there and play,” Ptacek said. “Expectations are high and we’ve been holding each other accountable in the small things. We don’t want to settle for ‘good enough,’ we want to do the little things that make us great.”

The troubles for Southeast’s opponents begin in the circle, where all-league pitchers Lexi Jacobson and Bryna Baird return for another year, after shredding lineups and tossing ten shutouts a season ago.

“Lexi and Bryna have been a dominant 1-2 punch and I expect that to be even more pronounced this year,” she said. “We also have Abigail Pearson who’s a sophomore that we can go to if we need a third.”

The lineup that entered the state bracket with a +259 run differential will also be widely unchanged, with six returners including a trio of four-year starters.

Maddie Harris (C) and Brielle Ptacek (SS), join Jacobson and Baird as All-League returners in the lineup, and will slot in alongside familiar faces in Kimber Ogorzolka (1B), Adyson Rohr (3B), Jayci Burgardt (OF), and Brookelyn Adams (OF).

Following the graduation of Chase Gilpin, Carly Commerford and Savannah Sutton, a strong crew of newcomers will also get their shot, as Avery Kinkelaar, Makenzie Riedel, and Abby Wyatt all battle it out for the final few spots in the starting nine.

While there is no denying this team's stark talent, the Lady Trojans still feel they have another gear to find, and will need to take one last step to have a shot at walking away with the ultimate prize in Class 3A.

“We’re capable of dominating but we’ve had a tendency to let teams that I don’t believe should have been in games play with us,” Ptacek said. “Last year we wanted to prove that we belonged at state and we did that with a win, but this year we want to prove that we can be real contenders.”

Today is opening day for Southeast of Saline as the Lady Trojans play host to Smoky Valley in a doubleheader with first pitch scheduled for 3:00.