Coach of the Year: Kaily Mayhugh, Smithville
Mayhugh took the reins for her first season as the Warriors head coach with big shoes to fill as she replaced her mentor and Missouri softball hall of famer Steve Tingler. The rookie head coach refused to be overwhelmed, even opting to shift from Tingler’s big bat offensive philosophy to her own small-ball scheme. It was successful as Smithville went 19-11 and advanced to the district title game for a third straight season.
Athlete of the Year: Ashton Maloney, Liberty
Maloney finished an illustrious career as a Blue Jay with her 2020 campaign. The senior outfielder set the single-season record for runs (58), hits (59), triples (9), home runs (12) and slugging percentage (1.106). She also accomplished a program-best 23-game hit streak. The University of Texas signee is currently ranked as No. 7 on the Extra Innings Top 400 recruit list for the Class 2021. She hit four RBIs in back-to-back games against Liberty North and North Kansas City.
Amayiah Hall, Liberty — Hall gave the Blue Jays remarkable reliability in left field and at the plate. The senior had four games with at least four runs and finished with 47 runs for the Blue Jays, second behind only Maloney. She recorded three RBIs in a game twice, first in a 9-8 battle with Lee’s Summit West to earn the team’s first three game win streak of the season and then in a 12-2 revenge game against Blue Springs after the Wildcats edged out Liberty 10-8 early in the season. Hall earned all-state second team honors.
Marra Cramer, Liberty — Cramer joined Hall on the all-state second team as the junior infielder finished third on the team with 45 runs. One of Cramer’s best stretches happened during the September Slam tournament where the Blue Jays went 5-0. She earned a team-high 10 RBIs and hit a home run during the event.
Olivia Branstetter, Liberty — Bransetter gave the Blue Jays another all-state second teamer in the infield, rounding out the team’s four all-staters along with Maloney, Hall and Cramer. The sophomore set the single-season record for doubles with 16 and finished second on the team in batting average at .509 behind Maloney’s .567. Her best stretch was during the Wildcat Scramble, where she opened with a four-RBI performance against Staley before hitting three RBIs in back-to-back games against Blue Springs and Park Hill South to finish the event. She also hit 3 RBIs in the district final.
Makaela Carr, Smithville — Carr completed a four-year varsity career with some extremely impressive stats from the mound. The Florida International University signee finished with the third-most single-season strikeouts in Smithville history at 156, just four Ks behind second and 22 behind first. She finished the year with a 1.9 ERA while hitting a .311 batting average. Her dominant pitching with batting skills to match is undoubtedly why Extra Inning Softball gave the Panthers a Top 50 recruiting class for 2021 after landing the 139th-ranked prospect and 78th-ranked pitcher.
Veronica McNeece, Smithville — McNeece was a key piece in Smithville’s Suburban Blue co-conference championship season. Few people had a harder job than playing catcher with Carr sending high-placed heaters toward home-plate, but McNeece powered through it to join her teammate as an all-state second-team selection. The senior showed elite play both behind and at the plate, leading the Warriors in batting average at .421 on the season.
Katie Robinette, Smithville — Robinette is one of the few sophomores on this list, showing consistency and confidence in the infield and with a bat. She earned all-region second team honors with her .329 batting average and 13 stolen bases to lead the Warriors’ small-ball offensive attack. She narrowly edge out her teammate and fellow infielder in junior Elizabeth Palmer thanks to a .938 fielding percentage on 64 total chances, both stats ranked fourth for Smithville players with more than 30 opportunities.
Lillie Filger, Kearney — Filger earned first-team all-state honors as an outfielder. Filger finished her Bulldog career with single-season and career stolen base records with 24 and 64 for the most in program history, with both records set in 2015 by Micah Allen. The South Dakota State signee also broke the career runs scored record with 139, breaking Ashley Hudson’s 131 mark, set in 2006.
Jadyn Barnes, Kearney — Barnes earned all-region second-team honors as she helped lift Kearney to a 13-10 season that ended in the district semifinals. The sophomore shortstop had one of her best games to open district play, earning three hits and four RBIs as the Bulldogs flattened Winnetonka 16-1.
Kayley Lenger, Liberty North — Lenger constantly gave the Eagles a spark during its 14-14 campaign in 2020. During the team’s run to the final of the Winnetonka/Park Hill South tournament, Lenger delivered six hits and two RBIs, including a double to kick off an eight-run fifth inning to beat Park Hill South 10-5 in the quarterfinals. The junior first baseman earned all-region first team for her stellar play at the plate and in the infield.
Katie Chester, Liberty North — Chester proved to be a strong at-bat and reliability third baseman for the Eagles as she earned all-region second team honors. She was also clutch as she followed Lenger in picking up singles for RBIs in district semifinals before both scored runs of their own to kick off a five-run swing in the fifth inning, although the eventual district champion Park Hill rallied to win 10-8.