By DEREK WILEY Leavenworth Times
Basehor-Linwood coach Susan Mayberry had as much to celebrate as anyone Tuesday morning when five of her Bobcat softball players were recognized as having signed with the colleges.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the program and the kids that are going through it,” Mayberry said. “To have five seniors this year to reach their goal of playing college and earning a degree in what they are passionate about and what they want to do with their lives is an exciting time.”
Mayberry also isn’t ready to say goodbye to a group that led the Bobcats to back-to-back Class 5A state championship game appearances.
“There’s something called avoidance and I’ve been in that mindset for probably a year now,” Mayberry said. “They are such a special group because they are very motivated. They are self-sufficient. They are leaders. They’re just winners, and it’s all genuine. They are just good solid people. And I’m so proud of them and will miss their leadership, their humor and their drive to become champions.
The five players will all go to different universities.
Taylor Cruse, the 2021 and 2022 United Kansas Conference Softball Player of the Year, has signed with Ohio State. Cruse, a First Team all-state in 2021 and 2022, was 13-1 with a 2.12 ERA and 84 strikeouts in the circle last spring, while hitting .500 with 13 home runs, nine doubles, three triples, 36 RBI and 47 runs.
Amanda Knutson, a first team All-UKC and All-State infielder last season, will continue her career at Southern Illinois. She hit .417 with six home runs, eight doubles, two triples, 27 RBI and 43 runs.
Mila Seaton, Isabella Rollo and Grace Rose are all staying closer to home.
Seaton, a 2021 first-team all-conference infielder who sat out last season with a knee injury, has signed with Wichita State.
Rollo, a 2021 and 2022 first team all-conference and all-state, will continue his career at Park University in Missouri. He hit .356 with 11 extra-base hits, 27 RBI and 35 runs.
Rose, a first-team all-conference pitcher, signed with Saint Mary in Leavenworth. He was 10-0 last spring with a 1.39 ERA and 42 strikeouts. At the plate, Rose hit .446 with 17 extra-base hits, including a team-leading 12 doubles, to go with 37 RBI and 30 runs.
The Basehor-Linwood signing day ceremony included 14 athletes.
Levi Cooley, a four-year starter on the offensive line, will continue his career at Emporia State. At Basehor-Linwood, Cooley was voted First Team all-conference three times and named Class 4A all-state twice. He was also a two-time Bobby Bell semifinalist for the best small school offensive or defensive lineman in the KC Metro. From his position at left tackle, Levi has allowed just one sack in his last 27 games.
Gage Greer, a first-team all-conference linebacker who led Basehor-Linwood defensive back with 99 tackles in the fall, signed with Highland Community College.
Brenna Lynn, the school’s record holder in both the javelin and discus, has signed with Samford University in Alabama. Last spring, she finished fourth in the discus and sixth in the javelin throw at the class 5A state meet and was voted UKC Female Athlete of the Year.
Olivia Vanderweide, who finished third in the javelin and fifth in the discus at the 2022 Class 5A state meet, will continue her career at Pittsburg State.
2022 state qualifier in cross country Cody Ford will race in Saint Mary.
Aiden Burkhart will also run cross country and college track and field at Emporia State.
Two-time state qualifier Jillian Wallace has signed with Saint Mary’s. Wallace is the school record holder in wins, shutouts, team points and pins.
Shawnee’s Pinnacle Gymnastics teammates Raina Christenson and Cassidy Lennard have signed with rival programs.
Christenson, a level 9 state champion, will continue her career at Wisconsin-La Crosse. Lennard, a level 10 team champion from Kansas, signed with Wisconsin-Stout.