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Sports

Friday, May. 11, 2012

Hawks soccer, softball secure league titles (again)

todpalmer@theolathenews.com

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Perfect — once more that is how the Olathe East girls’ soccer team has finished the season.

The Hawks wrapped up a 16-0 regular season Thursday with a 3-0 win versus Blue Valley.

East already had put the 10th Sunflower League championship on ice two days earlier, perhaps fittingly, with a mercy-rule 10-0 win against SM South, the fifth mercy-shortened victory of the season.

Beating the Tigers in the regular-season finale secured the 13th shutout of the season for the Hawks and senior goalkeeper Lindsey Lyman.

East — which won Kansas 6A state titles in 2001, 2004 and 2008 — has outscored its opponents 91-7 this season en route to another No. 1 regional seed.

If there is any team that owns a claim as more dominant than the Hawks’ soccer squad, it’s the school’s softball program.

Wrapping up a 19-1 run through the Sunflower League, the East softball squad’s traditional of excellence added a 13th league title – all since 1998.

Basically, the Hawks have owned (or at the very least shared ownership) of the Sunflower League every year during that run except 2000 and 2009.

“It’s pretty cool,” East softball coach Jeff Hulse said. “Lucky 13 is what we’re calling it. This team has a lot of talent, a lot of balance, good pitching, good defense behind that pitching and a nice blend of speed and power on offense.”

That is not unlike last season when aces Jenni Brooks and Allison Stewart led the Hawks to a 20-0 regular season and a regional championship.

At state, East rolled through the Kansas 6A state quarterfinals with an easy 11-0 win against Lawrence, but Washburn Rural tripped up Hulse’s girls in the semifinals 3-1 in nine innings.

The Hawks settled for fourth place and haven’t forgotten that disappointment.

“We fell short last year of our goal, but I couldn’t have asked the girls to do more to get ready for this season,” Hulse said. “It’s a tough league, as you know, the toughest in Kansas, so winning says a lot about how well the girls are playing. We’ve been very consistent in all aspects.”

With the season’s first major goal, winning league, successfully checked off, now East turns its attention to trying for the 15th state tourney berth in the last 17 years – and it’s a good bet they will get it.

“Every team has its own identity and legacy, and this team is still working towards that,” Hulse said. “It’s a credit to all six seniors. That group have a great deal of experience and are very good ballplayers, but they also have brought such a positive spirit to the team.”

The Hawks’ seniors are Nebraska-bound outfielder Kiki Stokes and Northern Iowa-bound catcher Sami Olson along with Maggie Klug, Blair Lewis, Bonnie Wilt and Rachel McGhee.

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