By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
About 18 years ago, when Kinzie Scearcy was born, just about everybody predicted she would turn out to be a softball player.
With a father who played fastpitch for nearly 20 years and an older sister who had already taken up the sport, Kinzie’s future seemed pre-ordained.
It turned out the prognosticators were right. Kinzie started playing T-ball when she was four and she’s been around the softball diamond ever since.
Now a senior at Mankato West, Scearcy is about to begin her second full season as the varsity starter at second base. The 12th-grader loves being outside, loves playing softball and loves the notion that the Scarlets should be successful in 2013.
“I don’t know if I had much choice growing up but I wouldn’t change anything,” she said. “I’m kind of a softball junkie. I’ve played with the Peppers every summer and last fall I went up to Rosemount to play with the Minnesota Sting.”
Scearcy usually bats second in the order, which means she’s often asked to bunt after leadoff batter Lauren Makela gets on base. She has no problem giving herself up to advance the runner.
“I like bunting when I get the bunt down,” she said, “but when I don’t get it down, I don’t like it quite as much.
“But it’s something that I work on constantly. Lauren and I are at the top of the order and it’s our job to produce runs.”
Head coach Don Krusemark agrees: “They are our table setters. They’re both left-handed batters and they’re both fast. They ended up scoring a lot of runs for us last year.”
Scearcy ended the 2012 season fifth in overall hits (21), fifth in RBIs (11) and fourth in runs scored (13). West finished second in the Big Nine last season but made an early exit in the playoffs when it was eliminated in the first round of the Section 2AA Tournament by a score of 2-0 by Waconia.
“That one stung a little bit,” Scearcy said. “We were the No. 1 seed and Waconia was No. 9. We’re looking forward to our Mankato Tournament (later this month) because we play Waconia in the first round and we want a little revenge.”
This year’s Scarlet squad is coming off a 19-3 season and is loaded with upperclassmen. In fact, the only two underclassman on the 13-player roster are freshman Lexy Schoper (who played quite a bit as an eighth-grader) and sophomore Jen Larsen (the fourth pitcher).
Jessica Goerger is back after leading the team in batting a year ago with .557 average. Callie Looft (.431) also returns as does Makela (.426), Missy Elkins (.426) and Schoper (.357).
West’s pitching is also well-established. The team’s top three throwers from 2012 have all returned.
They are Malorie Veroeven (11-2, 1.17 earned run average, 81 strikeouts), Elkins (8-1, 1.00 ERA, 61 strikeouts) and Bre Black (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 9 strikeouts).
“Based on who we have coming back, you’d think we’re in position to have another successful season,” Krusemark said. “But you still have to play the games. We just have to keep improving week to week.”