WHS Girls Softball State Championship Of 2010 Part 2

Johnie J. Logue
Enterprise Staff
There are two outs in the bottom of the seventh with a runner at third and the Warsaw Lady Wildcats are leading 4-0 over Palmyra. It is the state championship game in Columbia on Monday, October 25, 2010,This game actually started in Springfield on Saturday but was postponed due to rain in the top of the fourth.
The count on the batter is 0-2. Senior Kelli Wenberg, the little blond headed girl with the golden arm, takes a deep breath, gets the sign from Kreisel, winds up and delivers, a  swing and a miss, strike three, the Warsaw Lady Wildcat’s are now the 2010 State Champions.
Coach Steve Larson remembers,”Bottom of the 7th, 2 outs vs. Palmyra- Wenberg was swung on and missed for strike two. Coach (Jackie Downing) and I were out of the dugout leaning on the rail; she looks at me and says “What are you going to do?” I said “Stand right here and watch the girls celebrate.” 
The game is history but it lives on in the memories of Warsaw players, coaches and their many fans. They were 25-4 and  lost only to Smith-Cotton, Liberty and to the much larger school Rock Bridge twice.
The girls confidence grew as the season wore on. Head Coach Steve Larson recalls,”I remember at one point towards the end of the season, Megan Palmer asked me “If we win state do we get rings?”  I told her I didn’t know about them, but you can bet I will buy one.  Well, that scenario played out and yes, we got rings.” 
When Coach Larson made out his batting order it was usually as follows:
1st Kelli Wenberg - Pitcher
2nd Aubry Grenoble- Left Field
3rd Megan Palmer -SS
4th Caitlyn Cooner -Third Base
5th Haeley Kreisel -Catcher
6th Kristina Strader- Second B
7th Shawnah Kee -First Base
8th Stacie Williams- DH
9th Mackensie Wallace- RF
Danielle Stackhouse- CF
Coach Larson recalls his memories of  their bus driver and the trip to Springfield.
"Our bus driver’s name was Frank Kirby; he drove most of our away games, and often times his wife Sheree joined us.  Of course I made sure that Frank was our driver for the big event, and his wife came along also.  Frank was a special individual, he had traveled most of the United States, and at the time was a cancer survivor.  God blessed us with Frank and Sheree, just down right good people.  I believe Frank was originally from Paoli, Indiana, and served for four years in the Navy aboard the USS. Coral Sea.  Frank was unable to beat cancer.  He was diagnosed in 2011 with leukemia.  Cancer would take his life in 2012.  He was as much a part of our team as the players were.We love you Frank and you will always have a place in our hearts.
As the bus left the HS/MS complex, the teachers and students lined up along the Lane of Champions to see us off.  One special group was Kim (Stapp) Nichols, and the life skills students.  They were some of our biggest supporters. They always made our sandwiches for away games.  Remember, our girls are like shrews, if they don’t eat regularly they will wilt away to nothing.  Her class made signs for us and unbeknownst to her, I still have many of them.  When we arrived at the North Elementary School with the sirens blaring, the students had made signs and lined the drive.  The girls got off the bus and mingled among the students, shaking hands and taking pictures.  They loved every minute of their newly acquired fame.  We loaded the bus and headed through downtown.  People lined the streets, business owners, parent, day care children, they were all there. Mary Burke and the group from First Community Bank, shot silly string at the bus, it was great.  When we reached the South Elementary School, Mr. Barb had the students out in front of the building with more signs.  We had the girls sign a couple of balls and Coach “D” gave one to her nephew, and we gave one to Mr. Thomas’ daughter.  We left the south school without our escort, cut through a back road back out to Highway 65. Our next stop was at a restaurant in Fristoe to pick up some cookies!  After our brief cookie stop we were finally on our way to Springfield.  Signs lined the road and we honked as we went by Skyline in case they didn’t know we were going to state. Mrs.McCubbin made sure our bus would be noticed, EVERY ( I was accused of leaving names off) player’s name (nickname) and number were on the bus windows, the inside was decorated with crape paper, balloons, motivational quotes on the back of the bus seats, and a poster, signed by many of the high school students.”
So there you have our walk down memory lane. For those involved it is a memory that they will never forget.