A League of Our Own in Chase County

This year, KHC features weekly posts related to the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition Hometown Teams, currently touring Kansas.

The Chase County Lady Bulldogs. Photo courtesy of Chase County Historical Society.

The Chase County Lady Bulldogs. Photo courtesy of Chase County Historical Museum.

Chase County, Kansas, home to a population of just under 3000 people, isn’t a big place.

But as any Kansan knows, small doesn’t mean lacking in stories—and particularly when it comes to sports, Chase County is brimming with them.

There’s the story of Ryan Kohlmeier, a local boy who played baseball in the area before going on to pitch for the Baltimore Orioles—and then settling down in nearby Emporia, where he owns a dental practice.

There’s the story of Rich Potter, a longtime local coach of Little League baseball and softball so beloved by his community that they honored his 47 years of coaching by naming a field after him in a ceremony attended by hundreds.

There’s even the story of Knute Rockne, the famous Notre Dame football coach, and his 1931 death in a plane crash in the county—an event still commemorated by a memorial marker and an exhibit in the Chase County Historical Museum.

But the biggest story of the last few years is Chase County Junior/Senior High School’s softball team, the Lady Bulldogs.

In a community justifiably proud of its sports heritage, the Lady Bulldogs have written themselves into the history books, winning three Kansas State 2-1A softball championships in a row.

Along the way, they tied the state record of 72 consecutive wins—an accomplishment that helped earn them the title of 2014 Small School Softball Team of the Year from MaxPreps, a national high school sports website. Head Coach Brian Potter took Small School Coach of the Year honors, and catcher Cassidy Kelsheimer was named to the site’s Small School All-American Second Team.

The team even had a day named after them. The mayor and city council of Cottonwood Falls, where CCHS is located, proclaimed May 20, 2014 to be Chase County Junior/Senior High School Softball Day in recognition of the Lady Bulldog’s athletic achievements.

“Chase County: A League of Our Own” will be on display at the Chase County Historical Museum through November 14, 2015. For more information, contact cscohist(at)sbcglobal.net or (620) 273-8500.