SMITHVILLE — Nineteen wins and a district championship appearance would translate as a successful season for a number of softball teams at the prep level.
But, according to the Smithville Warriors’ recent string of postseason successes, those accolades could be considered a down season.
Last season the Warriors fell in the district title game 4-1 to Savannah, ending a stretch of two straight state final four appearances and three straight seasons as district champs. Smithville took third place at state in 2017 and fourth in 2016.
“It was a good year, I guess, overall, but in the end a little disappointing,” Warriors coach Steve Tingler said of the 2018 season. “That’s always our goal, to get to that final four.”
Smithville returns five starters from last year’s squad, including first team all-conference selections Skyler Brooks, senior, and Veronica McNeece, junior; and second-teamer Makaela Carr, junior.
“That’s a core group, so it’s great to build around them,” said Tingler, who is four seasons into his second tenure and coaching his 19th year total as the Warriors’ coach.
Carr will be relied on to pitch a solid chunk of the innings, with sophomore Haley Cotter contributing in the circle, Tingler said. Senior Annie Postlewait is also expected make an impact in the middle infield.
“We lost some key players but we have some good young ones coming up,” Tingler said. “Mikaela Carr pitched half the games for us as a sophomore and Haley also pitched for us as a freshman. Our defense is going to be strong.”
Tingler is more focused on the bats, which may be the key to what gets the Warriors back to where they feel they belong, the final four.
“We have to improve our hitting,” Tingler said. “My philosophy has always been we’re going to pitch the ball, play defense and we’ll find ways to score. Last year, we didn’t find ways to score. We’ve got to do that this year.”
The Warriors open their season at noon Friday, Aug. 30 against Liberty in the Greater KC Suburban Invitational at Adair Park in Independence.