By Dave Krider
Kasha Kolb put a perfect finishing touch to one of the most phenomenal careers in high school softball history when she pitched Chelsea to Oklahoma's Class 3A state championship.
The 5-foot-6, 130-pound senior right-hander literally was perfect as she did not allow a base runner and struck out 12 during the finale, a 1-0 victory over perennial state power Henryetta. It was the first-ever girls state championship in any sport for Chelsea - a school of 300 students in a town of 2,500.
She pitched every game this fall for the Dragons, giving both her and her team a perfect 42-0 record. She started the year with an incredible 19 consecutive shutouts and yielded only two runs (both unearned) in 277 innings.
Today the Wichita State recruit is the proud owner of six national records:
- 66 career no-hitters.
- 24 career perfect games.
- 40 shutouts in a year.
- 25 no-hitters in a year.
- 13 perfect games in a year.
- 0.00 ERA (tie) in a year.
She also ranks No. 2 all-time with 92 career shutouts, No. 8 with 1,660 strikeouts and No. 9 with 816 2/3 innings pitched. She compiled a 109-15 record in four varsity campaigns, allowing 210 hits, 74 walks and compiling a microscopic 0.16 earned run average. As a leadoff hitter she batted .375 with 128 runs, 50 doubles, five triples, three home runs and drove in 67 runs.
"Of course, I dreamed of it," Kolb said of her brilliant career. "I didn't think it would come true - I didn't think I'd be setting records. It hasn't really hit me yet, but it's going to be really amazing."
Chelsea coach Daryl Ping told MaxPreps, "She has one of the best riseballs. It jumps three feet in front of the plate and those girls don't have a clue. Those kids just swing at air. She also has a good screwball and curveball. She only threw her fastball (65 miles per hour) maybe two times during a whole game. It's a flat pitch (with no movement)."
Kolb's softball career actually was jump-started at the tender age of four when she played shortstop for the Pink Lady Dragons. She was inspired by her parents (Chris and Shanna), who played slow-pitch, and her older cousin, Rickie Hulls, who has been her role model.
When she was seven, her team's pitcher didn't show up one day and the coach asked who wanted to pitch. "Me, me," she immediately chirped. Well, all she did was throw nine consecutive strikes to retire the side in the first inning she ever pitched and the Legend of Kasha was launched.
Big honors started coming her way when she sparked her seventh grade team to a perfect 27-0 record and all players and coaches were honored at the state capital.
In eighth grade she suffered the indignation of losing to Inola, which was winless in 20 games at the time.
As a freshman she made the Chelsea varsity and shared pitching duties with a veteran. When not pitching she played the outfield. Coach Ping was not surprised, because he first had watched her pitch as a sixth grader. He recalled, "She was about 5-foot tall and weighed every bit of 80 pounds. I said, `Man, where did this come from?' She was like a gold mine sitting out there. I knew I had something special coming.
"By the end of her freshman year she was pitching every game in the playoffs. She was the type of girl who wanted that pressure. She thrives on being in control of the game."
However, Kolb never will forget her first varsity start as a freshman against Miami. "I was so scared," she admitted. "A big hoss hit one over the fence." The rest of her career, though, she gave up only two more home runs.
Kolb finished her freshman year with a 10-5 record, allowing 48 hits and 28 walks while striking out 155 in 107 2/3 innings. Her ERA was 0.52. She batted .389 and drove in 21 runs.
As a sophomore, Kolb led the underclass-dominated Dragons to their first-ever appearance in the state finals where they placed third. Coach Ping points to a 2-1, 14-inning regional victory over area rival Adair as a defining game in Kolb's young career. She struck out an incredible 32 batters in the marathon game which lasted three hours and 15 minutes.
The pressure-packed contest was scoreless until the top of the 12th inning when Chelsea took a 1-0 lead. However, Kolb then yielded a game-tying home run to prolong the game.
"When she gave up that home run - I'll never forget - she started crying in that circle," coach Ping vividly recalled. "I said, `It's all right. Everything is going to work out.' It took her about five minutes to regain her composure. Once she regained it, she's been on fire ever since. That's probably the game that made everybody realize she was a special, special player."
Kolb completed her sophomore year with a 20-5 record, 15 shutouts and a 0.27 ERA. In 179 2/3 innings she gave up 69 hits, 17 walks and struck out 304. She batted .376.
The records started to come during her junior year as she set a national mark with an amazing 13 perfect games. She knew she was in peak form early in the season when she struck out all 21 batters in a 6-0 victory over Jay. She finished that year with a 37-5 record, 31 shutouts and a 0.14 ERA. In 253 1/3 innings, she gave up 54 hits and 18 walks while whiffing 563. She batted .380 and scored 41 runs.
Last summer Kolb pitched for the Tulsa Eagles Gold and received one of her greatest thrills by blanking national power California Cruisers, 1-0, during the Colorado Fireworks Tournament.
Kolb's senior season was one for Ripley's Believe It Or Not. She started this fall by shutting out the first 19 opponents before Claremore Sequoyah scored an unearned run in a 2-1 victory. That was 130 consecutive scoreless innings.
A 1-0 victory over Henryetta early in the season was especially significant to coach Ping because the Dragons never before had beaten Henryetta and had suffered several tough 1-0 losses in the previous two years. "That got us over a huge hurdle," Ping affirmed, "and we knew we could beat anybody."
Senior Night was big to Kolb, because Jodi Patterson hit the team's first home run of the year. "That really got our sticks going," noted Kolb, who often had to manage on only one or two runs from her light-hitting teammates.
In the state-title game only long-time nemesis Henryetta stood in the way of the Dragons' first championship. But the Knights weren't going down without an all-out effort - starting with their rabid fans.
"Their fans screamed at her the whole game," Ping related. "They yelled, `Kasha, Who?' and `Overrated!' throughout the game. That game probably will stick with me the rest of my coaching career. She controlled the game from the first pitch to the last pitch."
Kolb, of course, said what would be expected of her career-capping gem: "It was just a perfect way to end our season. I didn't know I had a perfect game until I talked to the reporters after the game."
Her mind-boggling senior statistics included a 42-0 record, 624 strikeouts, 40 shutouts, 25 no-hitters and nine perfect games. She gave up just 38 hits and 11 walks in 277 innings.
She still has basketball (starting point guard) to look forward to. She ran track as a freshman and made the state meet with the two-mile relay. She even played one year of baseball (as a sophomore second baseman) when the boys team was short-handed. "It was so much fun," she said of the baseball experience. "I was a real good hitter."
The personable teenager, who just turned 17, knows that she is going to have to step up her training as she prepares to make the jump to Wichita State. "I'm going to have to work out a little harder and push myself," she conceded. However, nobody who knows the competitive right-hander ever would bet against her continuing to shine at the next level.
* Cherokee Washington junior quarterback Tyler Jones is expected to set a new Iowa state career passing-yardage record this week. He actually held the record - for one play - during last week's 44-7 loss to No. 1-rated Central Lyon/George-Little Rock (Rock Rapids), but on the very next play his pass was completed for a one-yard loss. Thus his total of 6,813 yards still is tied with record-holder Matt Sherman of St. Ansgar.
* Turning to California, Lake Balboa Birmingham senior Milton Knox set a Los Angeles City Section record during a 54-8 rout of Chatsworth by running his career rushing total to 5,447 yards.Johnny MacArthur, who is headed to Pepperdine on a golf scholarship, won't soon be forgotten for his first - and only - year of football at Newhall Hart. Also a soccer player, he booted a 43-yard field goal with no time left to nip Canyon Country Canyon, 31-28.
* Switching to North Carolina, a more experienced kicker, junior Will Kamin, nailed five field goals as Charlotte Christian defeated previously unbeaten city rival Country Day, 30-14. The distances were 52, 42, 36, 35 and 24 yards.Brockton (Mass.) ended a 20-game winning streak for Pinkerton Academy (Derry, N.H.) with a decisive 54-19 victory.
* Keep an eye on sophomore tailback Woodrow Vortors. He exploded for 419 yards and seven touchdowns on 25 carries as Bristol (Pa.) raced past Jenkintown, 55-32.Northwestern (Miami, Fla.) senior Jacory Harris fired six touchdown passes (10-of-13 for 200 yards) in barely more than a half during a 63-0 rout of Hialeah-Miami Lakes.
* Switching to Minnesota, superb senior wide receiver Michael Floyd touched the ball just four times but scored three touchdowns as St. Paul Cretin-Derham Hall defeated Cottage Grove Park, 34-7. He scored on 20- and 40-yard receptions and a 48-yard punt return.St. Croix Lutheran (West St. Paul) outlasted St. Paul Academy, 70-55, in the third-highest scoring game in Minnesota history.Wide receiver Elliott Herdina set a Minnesota career record for pass-receiving yardage (3,175) as Blooming Prairie routed St. Clair, 60-6.
* In Oklahoma, Josh King made four interceptions as Guthrie routed Oklahoma City John Marshall, 69-0.Jordan Tyner had five of his team's nine sacks as Midwest City rolled past Lawton Eisenhower, 47-7.
* The most talented brother duo in high school football wound up on the sidelines as East (Wichita, Kan.) suffered a 27-21 overtime loss to Derby. Senior linebacker Arthur Brown left the game in the first quarter after aggravating an ankle injury. Junior running back Bryce Brown ran 30 times for 278 yards and all three of his team's touchdowns before he, too, injured his ankle late in the game.
* The nation's top wide receiver, Julio Jones, aggravated a tender ankle very early in the first quarter and sat out the remainder of the game as Foley (Ala.) blanked Pine Forest (Pensacola, Fla.), 14-0.Senior kicker Jake Wieclaw of Lincoln-Way Central (New Lenox, Ill.) suffered a career-ending broken ankle which will cost him a great shot at a national career record for field goals. He had 48, two short of the record.
* Ohio powerhouse St. Xavier (Cincinnati) lost starting quarterback John Hurley and talented wide receiver Stephon Ball to left knee injuries during last week's game against Lakewood St. Edward. Coach Steve Specht simply inserted sophomore Luke Massa at quarterback and he responded with 5-for-5 passing for 122 yards and a touchdown while running the offense flawlessly.
* LSU has received a commitment from one of the nation's leading defensive ends, Chancey Aghayere (6-4, 244) of Garland, Texas.The University of Washington has received recent commitments from two players: linebacker-safety Greg Walker (6-0, 205) of St. Bernard's (Playa del Rey, Calif.) and wide receiver Jordan Polk (5-8, 150) of Lincoln (Portland, Ore.). Polk runs the 40 in 4.46 seconds and has a 39-inch vertical.
* Doug Wilkins of Mountain Lakes, N.J., recorded his 300th coaching victory last week, while Rod Christiansen of Palmer, Alaska posted No. 100.
* The University of Illinois may have set some kind of record last week when three of the state's leading juniors all made commitments on the same day. They are 6-4 guard Brandon Paul of Gurnee Warren, 6-3 guard D.J. Richardson of Peoria Central and 6-3 guard Joseph Bertrand of Sterling.
* Other recent commitments were by 6-8, 285-pound senior Reginald Johnson, Wake Forest Prep, to Miami; 6-9 senior Brandon Moore, Holy Cross (New Orleans, La.), to Arkansas; 6-5 senior Ray Willis, Westlake (Atlanta, Ga.), to Oklahoma; and 6-6 junior Erik Williams, Cypress Springs (Cypress, Texas), to Marquette.
* In girls recruiting, Ohio State has landed an outstanding senior point guard, Sammy Prahalis of Commack, N.Y. She already has played five varsity seasons and scored 1,742 points.Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.) senior D'Frantz Smart has made a commitment to Rice. Though barely over 5-feet tall, Smart averaged 15 points, four assists and three steals as a junior.
* Also making recent commitments were 6-1 senior Danielle Havel, Carmel, Ind., to DePaul; and 6-0 senior Miranda Tate, Bolingbrook, Ill., to Temple.Roger Anderson has succeeded highly-successful Kevin Kiernan as head girls basketball coach at Troy in Fullerton, Calif.
* Kelly Murphy, the nation's No. 1 player, has made a commitment to the University of Florida. The 6-2 Joliet (Ill.) Catholic Academy senior also considered Stanford, Michigan State and Texas. Joliet Catholic lost to Naperville Central, 25-17, 25-18, in the championship match of the 16th annual Autumnfest Tournament despite Murphy's 17 kills and 13 assists. Tourney MVP Megan McMahon had 18 assists for the champs.
* Eastbrook (Marion, Ind.) coach Wilma Cox recently earned the 600th victory of her coaching career. Williamsburg, Ohio coach Ed Stewart recorded his 500th victory in 29 years.
Cross Country Notes
* Sean Keveren and Ashley Brasovan both set course records while winning their respective divisions of the Great American Cross Country Festival in Hoover, Ala. Keveren, a senior from Brentwood, Tenn., won the major boys race in , while Brasovan, a junior from Wellington, Fla., captured the major girls race in . Defending national champion Kathy Kroeger was second in .
* Carly Seymour, a senior from Central Cambria (Ebensburg, Pa.), set a course record of while winning the New Balance Manhattan Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park in New York. Best boys time of the day was by Brian Leung of West Windsor-Plainsboro South (Princeton Junction, N.J.), who captured the F Division in . New York power Fayetteville-Manlius won the Eastern States girls title, while highly-regarded Danbury, Conn., captured the boys B Division race.
* Gregor Main of Danville, Calif., and Vicky Hurst of Melbourne, Fla., won their respective divisions at the Ping Invitational in Stillwater, Okla. Main shot an even-par 214 for 54 holes, while Hurst carded a 4-over-par 218. The 78-player field included representatives from 18 states and Canada.
* Jeffrey Kang won the boys division and Pearl Jin took the girls title at the Mayakoba Junior Golf Classic in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Kang, of Fullerton, Calif., shot a 5-under-par 65 on his final round - coming back from a six-stroke deficit - to finish with 3-under-par 207. Jin, of San Gabriel, Calif., shot 4-under-par 209.
* Ryan Thacher of Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.), has made a commitment to attend Stanford University. Thacher is the No. 1-ranked senior in the USA, according to Tennisrecruiting.net. His other top choices were Duke and UCLA.
* Wil Spencer, No. 3 senior in the Tennisrecruiting.net national rankings, won the ITF Pan American Closed boys 18 singles in Tulsa, Okla. The Ponce de Leon, Fla., resident had not played for the past few months due to an injury, but defeated top-seeded Jarmere Jenkins, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, in the finals. Marietta, Ga., resident Melanie Oudin, the nation's No. 1 sophomore, claimed the girls 18 crown with a 6-1, 6-2 triumph over Venezuelan Gabriela Paz.
* The Cheshire, Conn., girls team defeated Hamden, 104.5-73.5, to tie the national record of 234 consecutive dual-meet victories. The record originally was set by Central (Elkhart, Ind.) from 1980-94.
* Jason Marsteller, editor of Swimming World Magazine, reports that the University of Texas is off to a banner recruiting campaign. The Longhorns already have commitments from Atlanta, Ga., superstar Kathleen Hersey, who won four gold medals at the Pan American Games, and national team member Leah Gingrich of East Pennsboro (Enola, Pa.).
* Hockey immortal Wayne Gretzky and his wife, Janet, are selling some personal items at an estate sale on Oct. 27 to benefit Oaks Christian High School and Carden Conejo School in Westlake Village, Calif. The bulk of the proceeds will go toward building a baseball stadium for Oaks Christian where their son, Trevor, is a freshman football and baseball player.
* Sycamore (Cincinnati, Ohio), ranked No. 1 in the NSCAA/adidas national girls soccer rankings, was upset by Mason, 2-1. It was the first loss for Sycamore in 15 games.