The Hillsboro High School softball team will be a No. 1 seed in the 3A state softball tournament Friday and Saturday at Twin Oaks Complex in Manhattan.
The Trojans, 20-3, will face Douglass, 12-9, in the first round. Douglass won the Caney Valley regional as a two seed, defeating Eureka 12-2 in the final.
Hillsboro senior Courtney Weber said the team is preparing to face formidable pitching and close games, but the team is not planning on making major changes on the eve of the tournament.
“It’s important to play like we always do,” Weber said. “You’ve definitely got to earn it. Even if we’re playing a No. 8 seed.”
The starting pitcher for Hillsboro will most likely be Allison Weber. She pitched back-to-back shutouts against Southeast of Saline and Sacred Heart in regionals. Sister Courtney has pitched most often in big games for Hillsboro, throwing a no-hitter against Southeast of Saline in the 2011 regionals and starting against Frontenac in the first round of the state tournament. She would likely be the first reliever called if Allison struggles.
“I have complete faith in her,” Courtney said of Allison. “I’ve never been part of a big game where I wasn’t pitching. It’s a completely different view point.”
If they can make it past Douglass, the Trojans would face the winner of Chaparral and Pittsburg-SMC; both teams are 17-6 on the season. In an upset win over previously undefeated Humboldt in the Cherokee Southeast regional final, Pittsburg-SMC pitcher Morgan Gilmore struck out 19 batters.
If the Trojans can win two games, they are looking forward to possibly facing No. 2 seed Silver Lake in the championship final. Situated near Topeka, Weber said Silver Lake usually overcomes a tough schedule filled with teams in higher classes to make state runs.
She said it was similar to Hillsboro, who faces many 4A teams in the Central Kansas League.
The Trojans have also been regular state competitors. The softball team has made the tournament three consecutive years. Senior Krista Reimer, senior Sammy Koons, junior Erin Loewen, and sophomore Danae Bina have played the past three seasons in the 3A state volleyball tournament, winning the tournament this past fall. Courtney Weber, Reimer, Stephanie Sanders, Amy Bartel, and Bina have played the past three seasons in the 3A state basketball tournament, finishing third the past two years.
“It doesn’t even feel like we’re going to state,” Courtney Weber said. “It’s expected.”
“That’s when all of our hard will hopefully show,” Weber said. “It’s for us, our coaches, and our families. They’ve put up with us all this time, helping us get here.”