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Planning their defense: State champ Jaguars, BSSD teams set to return to practice field

Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net
Blue Springs South all-state catcher Tori Bradley and head coach Kristi Williams celebrate during a state playoff win. Williams is excited to welcome her players, including Bradley, back to the field Tuesday, when Blue Springs School District sports teams can start offseason practice after being delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Bradley, who will be a senior, is expected to be one of the leaders this fall for the Jaguars, who are two-time defending state champions.

Kristi Williams’ Blue Springs South High School softball team has won back-to-back Class 4 state titles, but she admits that she might be as excited to see players on her team Tuesday as she was when they walked off with championship trophies.

“I can’t wait to see my girls,” Williams said, “it’s been like three months, and talking via social media like Zoom just isn’t the same thing.”

All high school sports in the Blue Springs School District may start outdoor practice on June 15, with social distancing being of utmost importance.

Players will have their temperatures taken, they must bring their own water and they will work in groups of 10 or less.

“We’re keeping the same girls in the same groups,” Williams said. “A sport like softball will be much easier, I would think, than a sport like football, where there are so many more players.”

Williams said the physical activities of the practices will be important, but there are other aspects she is also anticipating.

“Our juniors from last year are going to be our senior leaders this year and that is something we would have been talking about for months, but we missed all that time because of the pandemic,” she said.

“But I know our seniors this year are excited and ready to get to work – on and off the field. And we’ve been lucky because a lot of our girls have been playing softball already.

“They’ve been able to go to Oklahoma to play and there have been some tournaments in Kansas, too. In fact, there is a big tournament in Kansas this week and a lot of our players will be there.”

Williams hopes Tuesday is the first step toward some normalcy, for her players and herself.

“It will be a return to normalcy – I guess what they’re calling the new normal, because we can’t hug, we can’t high-five, we have to keep our social distancing. But at least we’ll be able to see each other and talk to each other face to face, and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

She paused for a minute, and added, “The only teenager I’ve been around is my daughter, and she’s tired of listening to me. I hope our players are excited about listening to me.”