Haleigh Harper wasn’t satisfied with her performance at the plate after the 2018 softball season. She’s got a competitive fire by nature that doesn’t have an offseason; she’s a three-sport athlete. Harper, who finished her senior season at Manhattan High this spring, wasn’t going to settle, so she made a change in her routine.

“My parents used to always tell me that ‘a bucket a day will take you so far,’” Harper said. “So I’d go out with my parents and do front toss for like an hour. I would just hit and hit. The repetition gets you a long way.”

Harper’s batting average skyrocketed to .660. For her efforts, The Mercury selected her as the All-Flint Hills softball, player of the year. Along with the eye-popping average, Harper had 12 doubles, four triples and seven home runs. She was first-team all-league in softball and the Kansas Coaches Association named Harper to the Class 6A first team.

While Harper had a standout season for the Indians, she still wasn’t entirely satisfied with the season.

“It’s going to be hard for me to look back on this season and see anything positive other than the relationships I had and made with my team,” Harper said. “It wasn’t a very good season for us for the winning part of it, but it was a great season for us for the relationships and the bonding.”

Harper wants to get better all the time. She valued playing basketball and volleyball when the softball season was dormant because it kept her mind away from the season. But it also kept her competitive spirit alive all year.

Getting better as a softball player wasn’t the easiest thing for Harper to combat in 2019.

The Indians weren’t winning and Harper doesn’t settle. So she found other ways to better herself.

“I learned that it does get better. It’s hard having a losing season but there’s one way to go and that’s up,” Harper said. “So I found hope that practice was always going to make us better and there was only one direction to go.”

Harper will play for the University of Kansas this upcoming softball season.

“I’m looking forward to representing Manhattan. I know that not a lot of people can say they left Manhattan High and became a Division I player, but that’s something that I dreamed about for a long time,” Harper said. “To finally make it here is incredible, and that’s what I look forward to.”

She said she knows how hard it’s going to be to compete for playing time. The of the amount of upperclassmen on the Jayhawks’ roster, but she already knows she’s going to bring a positive energy, quickness on the basepaths and hustle in the infield.

Harper put herself in a position she wants to be, but true to form, that may not be enough now.

“My goal as a little kid was to play Division I,” Harper said. “Now that I’m there, my goal is to be known in Division I. I want to go there. I want to make my name known.”

2018 All-Flint Hills softball team

Player of the Year: Haleigh Harper, Manhattan, Sr.

Coach of the Year: Brian Henry, Wabaunsee

First Team

Sydney Hefty, Wamego, Sr.

Hefty led Wamego at the plate with a .527 batting average with 39 hits and 19 RBIs. She also was effective on the bases, notching 24 steals. Her defense was superb, boasting a .926 fielding percentage.

Rachel Allen, Riley County, Sr.

Allen was a pitcher, shortstop, and centerfielder for Riley County, where she started all four years. She earned first-team all-Mid-East league with 127 strikeouts on the mound and a .434 batting average.

Toree Hoobler, Wamego, So.

Hoobler had a .520 batting average with 39 hits and 10 RBIs and was second on the team with 18 stolen bases. Defensively, she had a .915 fielding percentage and was voted as an NCKL All-League shortstop in 2019.

Autymn Schreiner, Wabaunsee, Jr.

Schreiner had a team-leading 22 RBIs on 32 hits with a .500 batting average for Riley County in 2019. She also had a perfect fielding percentage, playing all 18 games.

Alexis Hafenstine, Wabaunsee, Jr.

The junior had the most plate appearances (72) on the team and was highly effective there, posting a .522 clip. Hafenstine had 35 hits with 15 RBIs and seven doubles. She also had five home runs.

Laney Scott, Rock Creek, Sr.

Scott was the leader of the Mustangs in her final season and had her best year, posting a .397 average with two home runs.

Alyssa Lohmeyer, Wabaunsee Sr.

Lohmeyer was dangerous at the plate for Wabaunsee, recording 12 doubles behind a .525 average in her final season. She also had a remarkable season in the field with a .969 fielding percentage.

Amanda Luthi, Wamego, Sr.

Luthi was considered to be the leadership on the field by Wamego head coach Luke Meyer. Luthi is a two-time NCKL all-league member. She had a .339 batting average with 22 hits and 18 RBI’s as the catcher.

Caitlin Donahue, Wamego, Jr.

Donahue held an important role for Wamego as the only returning starter in the outfield. She was not previously a left fielder, but stillwas successful and voted All-League with a .350 average.

Honorable mention

Sophia Haverkamp, Rock Creek, Fr.; Halley Asbury, Wamego, So.; Ryann Alderson, Wamego, Fr.; Kaitlyn Gregiore, Manhattan, Fr.; Kara Hafenstein, Wabaunsee, Fr