Gene Morris / Staff Photo

Paola pitcher Kierstan Weitze prepares to fire a pitch home. Weitze was 16-7 for the Lady Panthers.

PAOLA — With a game on the line, the Paola Lady Panthers wanted Kierstan Weitze on the mound.

Weitze, a fierce competitor, also wanted the ball.

She was 16-7 for Paola, leading the Panthers to a third-place finish in the Frontier League and a Class 4A regional championship title.

Weitze was named the Tri-County Spotlight Softball Pitcher of the Year.

“Kierstan was the leader from the circle,” Paola coach Sherry Ball said. “No matter what the other team brought to her, she handled every situation with calmness and poise.”

No one fielded her position on the mound like Weitze. She made 43 put outs and turned a double play. Weitze made three errors in 46 chances for a fielding percentage of .935.

Weitze was a workhorse on the mound for the Lady Panthers. She started 17 of the teams’ 23 games. Weitze was the pitcher of record in all 23 games, posting a record of 16-7.

She struck out more than one batter per inning, fanning 123 batters in 106 innings pitched.

Weitze had a 3.084 earned run average. She allowed 117 base hits and walked just 29 batters for a WHIP of 1.369.

Great pitchers help themselves at the plate and Weitze did that. She had some big at bats.

She hit .434 for the Lady Panthers. Weitze had 36 base hits, including nine doubles and four triples.

Weitze drove in 18 runs and had 29 runs scored. She was second on the team in runs scored. Weitze stole six bases in seven attempts.

“She’s a terrific battler, not only in the circle, but at the plate as well,” Ball said. “We look forward to Kierstan leading the way fearlessly again next year.”

Weitze started the Class 4A regional semifinal and championship game. She notched the win in both games.

She struck out seven in a no-hit 15-0 shutout against Atchison in the regional semifinals. She also came through to help herself at the plate. Weitze doubled and scored three runs.

Weitze allowed six runs on nine hits, striking out four in a 10-6 victory against Piper in the regional title game.

Weitze pitched a one-hit shutout in a 15-0 victory against Louisburg on May 9. She allowed one run on four hits as Paola won the second game 16-1.

She went 4-for-4 and scored three runs in a 17-7 victory at Baldwin on April 18.

Weitze struck out 14 batters in a 17-7 victory against Chanute on April 12.

She singled, doubled, drove in two runs and scored twice.

Sports Editor Gene Morris can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or gene.morris@miconews.com.

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