Matt Windle takes over as head softball coach

Story by Kyle Davis

Baker assistant volleyball coach Matt Windle is the new leader in the dugout at Cavaness Field as the head coach of the Baker softball team.

Windle is in his second year as an assistant coach in the volleyball program and before that he coached volleyball for 11 years at Free State High School in Lawrence. Windle also coached on the softball team for three years while at Free State, one year as the junior varsity coach and two years as the assistant varsity coach.

“Having a core group back plus having the assistant coach stay from last year makes it an easy transition, but it’s always different with a new coach,” Windle said. “Philosophies are different, what my expectations will be and how we run things will be a little bit different so there’s always a sense of … the unknown that makes people a little nervous.”

The Wildcats will play several games this fall, starting by hosting Haskell University on September 10. Baker will then travel to Highland Community College on September 13 and then will play Rockhurst in a tournament on September 19 and 20.

The squad is returning most of the players from last year’s team with only losing one graduating senior Stephanie Allen.

“That’ll make it really easier because we did play with each other last year and we learned who we were on and off the field and we all get along really well,” sophomore Brooke Allen said.

Several of coach Jennifer Ridgon’s recruits will also be joining the squad this season, including freshman pitcher Heather Gruber, from Blue Valley High School, to add some depth to the pitching rotation.

“I’m really excited because we just have so much athletic ability and the potential to do so well,” Allen said. “Just last year we kind of had bad luck with people getting hurt and we did really have anybody to fall to.”

Also returning to the program is assistant coach Paul Allen, who is very familiar with this team and what they can do.

“He knows us all and he knows what we need to work on and he pushes us to our limit so that’s really good to have him back,” senior Chelsi Taylor said. “It would be more difficult if he wasn’t coming back and we’d all be a little bit more nervous.”

Windle said several of the volleyball players he has already coached, who are also softball players, are going to help with the transition since they already know his coaching style and can talk to the other players who do not know him.

“I’m extremely excited. It’s a new season, a new direction and I think we’d like to see everybody come out and watch a new brand of ball,” Windle said.