FRONTENAC, Kan. – The Frontenac Raiders are aiming for their third state championship since 2016.
“We know what our goals are and what we need to do to get there,” says head coach Cassie Rhuems, who has led the Raiders to titles in 2016 and 2019, “We’re going out there with the mentality that we’re bringing it back, so that’s what we’re going to do.”
The Raiders have just two players on the roster from the 2019 title team – so for most of them, it will be their first time on the big stage.
“It’s a great experience,” says junior shortstop Heather Arnett, “I just tell them to play like they all know how, and to be excited that we get to. It’s a great opportunity and not very many people get to do it.”
“We have big moments in practice, we have pressure situations in practice where we put that added pressure on them and things like that,” Rhuems says of getting her young team ready for state, “The fans were so full at our regional tournament that I don’t think they’re going to have fuller, more packed stands than we did at the regional tournament.”
“It is a little bit nerve-wracking,” says sophomore pitcher Mia Brown, “but coach Rhuems has prepared us a lot and I think we’ll be ready for it. ”
Frontenac can swing the bats – but they’re a team built on defense.
“I feel like defense is something you are in complete control of. It’s just something in our program that we drill day in and day out,” Rhuems says.
“I don’t feel like I have to strike everyone out,” Brown says, “I know I can trust my defense a lot to make plays.”
“I’ve told these kids from the get-go. If we can play 21 outs, 7 innings of relentless defense, you’re going to give yourself a chance to be successful,” Rhuems adds, “I think they did that in the regional tournament.”
Chemistry has also been key.
“Everyone gets excited for everybody. That’s the biggest thing,” Arnett says, “No matter what happens, everyone is excited for their teammates. Even though girls are competing for spots, it’s still one big family.”
Frontenac heads to Manhattan on a 14-game winning streak.
With just three more, they’ll come back home with a third championship in six years.
“I think we’re taking that momentum and that energy and taking it with us to the state tournament. We’re leaving on the right foot,” Rhuems finishes, “If we get out there and do the little things and play the defense that I know we’re capable of playing, I think we’re going to give ourselves a good shot.”
Frontenac is the #6 seed in the 3A state bracket. They’ll face 3rd-seeded Silver Lake in the first round on Thursday night at 7 PM in Manhattan.
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