It was a softball season that will go down in Pratt High lore as the best one ever! In addition to winning almost all of their games (22-3) and setting numerous records, Lady Green also completed the mission that many of the girls had been working on since they were tweens— winning a State championship at Pratt High School.

It was a softball season that will go down in Pratt High lore as the best one ever! In addition to winning almost all of their games (22-3) and setting numerous records, Lady Green also completed the mission that many of the girls had been working on since they were tweens— winning a State championship at Pratt High School.

The dream had emerged on the playing fields of Pratt youth softball, when several of the team got their introduction to competitive softball as members of the Batbusters traveling squad. The Batbusters won a state championship, and that led several of the girls to envision winning a state championship as Lady Greenbacks as well.

Before this season began, PHS head coach Mike Forshee described star pitcher Brittnee Hill as being “on a mission.” That referred to last season’s disappointment when the team advanced to the State semi-finals before falling. This year, Hill and many of the other former Batbusters were going to be seniors, and this year represented their last chance to grab the gold ring. They were determined to see their goal come to fruition.

As evidenced by their five consecutive State tournament trips culminating in this year’s victory, Pratt High softball has developed a definite cachet. They expect, and people expect them, to win. Therefore, no one should have been surprised when this year’s team began the season by sweeping its first four doubleheaders.

Hesston, Smoky Valley, Sterling and Lyons fell in turn, giving the Frogs an 8-0 record to begin the season. Lyons was a 3A state tournament competitor this season, which might have been Lady Green’s biggest early victory.

PHS then suffered its only major setback of the season, a pair of 1-0 road losses to Hays High, a 5A state tourney contestant.

The girls next resumed their winning ways, defeating Halstead in a twin bill. Hillsboro and Pratt then split a doubleheader early in May to make Pratt’s record 11-3. Hillsboro was state runner-up in 2A this year. That was the last time PHS would taste defeat in 2014, however, as they rattled off wins over CKL foes Nickerson, Haven and Kingman to claim the CKL throne and end the regular season.

As the #1 seed in the Larned regional, Pratt began by dispatching Russell, then advanced to State by getting past pesky Larned 1-0 in extras. That was a game perhaps better than any other that illustrated Lady Green’s grit. Although they were having trouble getting their bats going against the Indians’ fine pitcher Emily Lucas (who is playing for PCC next year), they simply refused to lose and kept battling until they had found a way.

It was perhaps kismet that this year’s 4AII State softball tournament was going to be contested at Green Sports Complex— PHS’ home field. Although, given the dominance they displayed in the tournament, it is not accurate to say that Lady Green needed the home field advantage in order to pull off the win. Whipping their three opponents (Prairie View, Goodland and Clearwater) by a combined score of 35-5 indicates that they could have pulled off the feat no matter where the tournament had been held. It did make it nice that the Lady Frogs’ triumph could be witnessed in person by hundreds of members of Greenback Nation, who turned out in droves to support the team.

Of the Greenbacks’ performance in the State tournament, head coach Mike Forshee said, “They were locked in.” Winning the semi-final and championship game by run-rule and racking up hits and runs seemingly at will, Lady Green left no doubt who the best team was in 4A division II.

Much of the credit for the season’s success has to go to the six seniors on the squad. Star hurler Brittnee Hill rewrote the PHS pitching record book during her career, setting records for career wins (57), ERA (0.24), strikeouts (season 191, career 602), and shutouts (season 15, career 30). She also helped herself with the bat, hitting .375 with 10 RBI in 2014. Hill will be attending Arizona University next year to study Musical Theater.

Shortstop Lauren Rambat was the definition of a leadoff hitter, batting .538 and scoring 38 runs with 24 RBI in 2014. She set school records in career runs (117), season hits (50) and career hits (174). Rambat will play softball at PCC next year.

OF Bailey Gillig hit .488, scored 27 runs, drove in 26, stole 14 bases, and sported a .633 OBP and a .732 slugging %. Although she banged one homer this year, doubles were her specialty. Gillig tied the school record for season doubles with 15. She has a scholarship to play volleyball next year at Kansas Wesleyan.

OF Dakota Jones hit .442, scored 24 runs, and drove in 32. Her 100 career RBIs sets a new school mark. She tied Gillig with 15 doubles for the season record, and her 39 doubles sets a new career standard. Jones has accepted a softball scholarship for next year at Allen County.

The other seniors on the squad were OF Cheyene Wiese, who will play softball next year at PCC, and Morgan Schmidt who appeared as a pinch hitter and runner at times. Schmidt will play golf next year at Sterling College. Wiese had some nice at-bats during the season, but was better known as a defensive specialist— running down balls in the outfield and throwing to the correct base to keep the opposition from taking advantage on the basepaths.

“Everyone contributed. It was a team effort,” Coach Forshee was fond of saying, and it was true. Although the seniors deservedly got a lot of the season’s accolades, it was underclassmen (Kelsey Smith-Potter, Brooke Theis and Destani Garten) that strung together hits to bring home the winning run in the crucial regional final against Larned. It was soph 2B Bre Becker who slid home with the championship-clinching run in the State final. Junior C Savanah Buntemeyer was a steadying influence behind the dish, throwing out 53% of attempted base-stealers and leading the team in triples with 4 and was second in RBIs with 30. It is absolutely true to say that everyone on the team contributed.

Although Brittnee Hill’s pitching, backed by the Greenback defense, was a huge factor in Lady Green’s success, do not overlook that this team was also a record-setting offensive juggernaut. They broke the school record for team average in a season (.447); RBIs in a season (196) and runs in a season (227).

As previously announced in the Tribune, nine of this year’s players were named to the all-CKL squad. It is reasonable to assume that even more post-season honors will be accruing to a number of players as all-area and all-State lists are compiled. The Tribune will publish those when they are announced.

For now, suffice it to say that the 2014 Pratt High School squad was on a mission, and it was MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! At Monday night’s team banquet, Coach Forshee acknowledged the contributions of his assistant coaches Rayna Rolo and Crystal Kohman-Smith as well as all of the girls.

The graduating seniors leave some big cleats to fill, but the group of underclassmen returning are not likely to be willing to settle for anything less than what this year’s team accomplished. In fact, it was junior Savanah Buntemeyer who wrote down the team goals, decided upon at this year’s preseason meeting, that Mike Forshee quoted from at the team banquet.

According to Forshee, those team goals were to “win the CKL, win regional, and WIN IT ALL!” And that’s exactly they did.