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Shawnee County softball: High appears set for big '21 season



After advancing to the Class 6A state tournament in 2019, another big year could be in store for Shane Miles' Topeka High softball team this spring.

The Trojans return eight players that gained starting experience for High's 16-4 team in '19, including All-Staters Zoe Caryl and NiJaree Canady and four other players who received All-City recognition, and Miles' team is already off to a 4-0 start, including a pair of wins over 5A power Shawnee Heights.

 ZoeCarylvsWest2Topeka High senior catcher Zoe Caryl, an All-Stater in 2019, has helped lead the Trojans to a 4-0 start this spring. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

 NiJareeCanadyvsWestTopeka High junior NiJaree Canady, who received All-State recognition as a freshman, is a star at the plate and on the pitching mound for the Trojans. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

Topeka High will build this year's team around seniors Caryl, Zoie Kincade, Tatum Wilson and Mia Kelly and juniors Canady, Amiah Cain and Majayla Boyd while top newcomers include junior Elycia Joyce and sophomores Adisyn Caryl and Quincy Smith.

"We have a good core group of juniors and seniors back that have state tournament experience,'' Miles said. "Our four seniors will be great leaders to lead this young team to our goals. The girls have a great mind set and know what they need to do to achieve that.

"There will be a lot of competition at all the positions, with possibly 15 girls in the mix for varsity time.''

Topeka High knocked off three-time defending 5A champion Shawnee Heights (9-0 and 2-1) in a twinbill to open the season and then followed that up with 19-0 and 19-3 wins over Topeka West on Thursday as Zoe Caryl, the Trojans star catcher who is headed to Illinois, turned in a huge performance at the plate.

Canady picked up the first-game pitching win and also hit a grand slam home run while Zoe Caryl had five extra-base hits, including a homer in the second game.

Other Shawnee County teams at a glance:

Hayden -- Carvel Reynoldson's Wildcats posted a solid 15-8 record in '19 and will build this year's team around returning All-City junior Carly Stuke and seniors Lauren Cook and Lauren Vanderslice. Other seniors expected to contribute this season are Dejah Miller, Alyssa Dinkel and sophomores Alyssa Droge and Tatum Abbey.

CarlyStukeCarly Stuke

The Wildcats dropped a twinbill to 6A power Washburn Rural in their opener, getting a home run from Stuke. Hayden will travel to Silver Lake on Monday.

"We're looking forward to the season after last year's COVID disappointment,'' Reynoldson said. "We're relying heavily on returners like Stuke and Cook to mesh with a talented group of newcomers.''

Highland Park -- Scots coach Bill Nicholson's team will be looking to make strides after a 2-18 record in '19.

Top players include seniors Citaly Olguin, Ayanna Reynoso, Naliya Jamison and juniors Emma Fouraker and Adia Mitchell.

Rossville -- Bulldawg coach John Nitsch will build this year's Bulldawg team around seniors Destiny Bergstresser, Tatum Gentry, Mattie Horgan, Brec McCrory, Gracie Rabe, Mallorie Salmon and Sidni Taylor and juniors Caylee Douglas, Alexis Dugan, Elizabeth Schaeffer, Maxine Smith and Vanessa Quinones.

Rossville, 9-9 in '19, is off to a 3-1 start this spring, sweeping a doubleheader over Jefferson West and splitting a twinbill with Santa Fe Trail.

Seaman -- Senior Raigan Kramer, an Arkansas signee, and junior Emma Smith are top returners for Jay Monhollon's Vikings, along with seniors Callee Dempewolf, MaKenna Dechand and Hanna Addington and junior Skylar Duncan.

Raigan KramerRaigan Kramer

The Vikings got their season off to a good start with a 10-0, 3-2 win over Centennial League rival Manhattan, with Smith hitting two home runs and Duncan one.

"We're grateful for the opportunity to have a season and developing our players' skill set,'' Monhollon said. "We are looking forward to the challenges the Centennial League provides. The conference will be solid and will provide many growth opportunities.'' 

Shawnee Heights -- The T-Birds suffered heavy graduation losses off the '19 team that won its third straight 5A state title and will build this year's team around seniors Adysen Burghart, Taylor Hawkins and Mykala Johnico and juniors Abby Schulte, Olivia Morgan and Deja Gardenhire.

Adysen BurghartAdysen Burghart

The T-Birds dropped their season-opening doubleheader to Topeka High, but are still expected to be a 5A contender after going 22-1 in '19.

Burghart and Schulte were starters on the '19 state title team.

"We are going to be young at quite a few positions, but we are excited to get going,'' Shawnee Heights coach Tara Griffith said.

Silver Lake -- The Eagles went 21-5 in '19 and placed second in the 3A state tournament. Silver Lake coach Nick Hamilton returns a solid nucleus from that team, including senior Ellington Hogle, who earned All-3A recognition as a sophomore.

EllingtonHogleEllington Hogle

Also returning for the Eagles are seniors Olivia Fieger, Kyla Hay and Bailey McCollum and juniors Taryn Burkhardt, Lauren Rollenhagen and Gracie Trammel.

"The girls are ready to compete,'' Hamilton said. "Several played in the state championship game in 2019 and have some unfinished business to attend to.'' 

Topeka West -- Gordy Ramos takes over as the Chargers' head coach after serving on Lori Zook's West staff. Top returners for the Chargers, who went 13-8 in '19, are juniors Whitley Benson, Manania Isaia and Brynna Mays.

West opened its season with a doubleheader loss to Topeka High.

Washburn Rural -- Tricia Vogel's team went 23-1 and was the 6A state runner-up in '19. 

Top returners for this year's team are senior Olivia Bruno, a Kansas signee, and senior Kayden Smith.

OliviaBrunoWashburn Rural senior Olivia Bruno, helped lead the Junior Blues to a runner-up finish in the 2019 Class 6A state tournament. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

Bruno hit over .500 and went 9-0 as a pitcher in '19 while Smith hit .435.

"With missing last season it may takes us awhile to figure out what we have,'' Vogel said. "We will have a lot of new faces who would have been playing varsity last year, but unfortunately that didn't happen. We are excited to get back on the field and are looking forward to making the most of each opportunity because we know how easily it can be taken away.''

The Junior Blues opened their season with 11-1 and 12-1 victories over Hayden, with sophomore newcomer Emmerson Cope teaming with Bruno for dominating pitching performances while both players hit home runs on the day.