IRON SHARPENS IRON: Team motto fuels Diamond softball on way to state semis

May 17—DIAMOND, Mo. — The Diamond High School softball program won its third district championship in four seasons and then earned a win Tuesday over Forsyth in the state sectional round to advance to the Class 2 semifinals for the third time in four years.

The Wildcats began the 2024 spring season with a motto in mind: "Iron sharpens iron. That's what we've been working all year. Every practice you want to beat someone out. The better you are, the better you make your team," junior shortstop Lauren Turner said.

And from day one, the goal of this team has been clear.

"You could tell from the very first practice we knew what we were here to do and that is to take state," Turner said.

Another goal the Wildcats set for themselves was an undefeated season. Head coach Kelsey Parrish had set that goal for her team because she knew what her group would be capable of this year.

"I knew they were going to do something special, and that's why we went ahead and gave them the undefeated goal to reach," Parrish said.

That undefeated goal was alive up until a loss to Frontenac High School in Kansas on April 30. Diamond is 36-1 this year, and the next team in the way of that state championship aspiration is Willow Springs (24-6). The Wildcats and Bears had one mutual opponent in Fair Grove this year. Diamond won that game 13-2 while Willow Springs lost 17-1.

Playing by a motto of "iron sharpens iron" requires putting in the work to sharpen one another. Seniors Caitlyn Suhrie and Grace Frazier talked about the work ethic of the team.

"We have really worked very hard. It means a lot because our hard work is paying off," Frazier said.

"A lot of our girls have that competitive mindset that we want to go out there and win and put in the work," Suhrie added.

It all starts with these two seniors setting the tone for the younger players. Both Suhrie and Frazier say it comes with its ups and downs but can make it easier to push one another when they play multiple sports with each other in a school year, like Diamond's girl athletes do.

"Caitlyn and I probably push each other and others more than anyone else," Frazier said.

Parrish talked about that work at practice and what the team has been focusing on in the state tournament.

"We've really just been trying to keep practices upbeat, competitive and focusing on fine-tuning the little things," Parrish said.

Diamond uses fast-paced 10-minute scrimmages to see how many runs can be scored in 10 minutes. The trick is that each baserunner has to move at least two bases on every batted ball to force a play on the base paths.

Assistant coach and pitching instructor BJ Lorenzen talked about how the pitching helps to make the hitters better during live batting practice. She sees the team motto working in full effect at that time.

"As iron sharpens iron, our pitchers sharpen our batters, making them better hitters," Lorenzen said.

What will it take for the Wildcats to win two more games and hoist a Class 2 state championship trophy?

Suhrie thinks focusing on the result and not letting the ebbs and flows of the game get in the way of the goal will be a key next week. From things like a strikeout or committing an error, Suhrie has seen herself and her teammates not beat themselves up over it.

"We can look at the next play and worry about that end goal, which is state championship," Suhrie said.

"I feel like the work we've put in should give us some comfort to play freely and not be under pressure," Frazier added.