At the beginning of this season, Jackson softball head coach Shawn Wilding told senior Kaiden Weisbrod that it was very possible she could break Missouri’s single-season stolen base record of 72. Weisbrod thought there was no way she could.
Fast forward to the second to last week of the regular season, though, and Weisbrod did just what Coach Wilding thought she could do all along.
“I was like, ‘I don’t think I will — that’s a big record right there,’” Weisbrod recalled saying when talking about breaking the stolen base record with Coach Wilding. “Then I got close to it, and I was like, ‘Maybe I can.’ It’s just good to know that I have people to support me and that I’m using my God-given talents that I’ve been blessed with.”
In the Indians 15-1 road win over North County last Tuesday, Kaiden stole three bases to become Missouri’s new all-time single-season leader in stolen bases as she currently sits at 73 with the postseason looming.
“It means a lot, and I’m honestly so glad that I have a good team and coaches to support me because I wouldn’t have been able to do it,” Weisbrod said. “Especially Ash [Ashlyn Dawes] taking a pitch or two for me to steal a base.”
Through 15 games this fall, Weisbrod has stolen multiple bases with her career and season-high being six that she notched in a 12-2 win over Class 5 District 1 opponent Fox on Sept. 27.
Kaiden recorded five in one of Jackson’s two games against Francis Howell Central a few days earlier. Outside of that, Weisbrod recorded three or more stolen bases in seven other games.
“It takes a lot — I have to do a lot of training, and I want to thank Prep Athletics for always putting in the extra work with me,” Kaiden said. “Really you just have to know when the release point is going to be exact. You just have to be confident within yourself.”
Weisbrod has been able to have a record-breaking season for Jackson despite suffering a labrum and rotator cuff tear. Kaiden missed the last two seasons because of this and had surgery back in June of 2022.
“I was afraid that I wouldn’t be up to my max capacity because surgery holds you back for a long time,” Weisbrod said. “It just means a lot that I was able to come back and have a historical season, and share it with the people I love.”
While Kaiden had doubts of being as good as she was prior to the injury, it took her less time to recover after the surgery (five months) than expected (six to 12). “Physically I put in so much work and it paid off,” she noted.
As far as stealing a base goes, Weisbrod said that she knows to make the attempt to do so whenever an opposing pitcher picks up their back foot. Kaiden said that is when she “starts going,” where she runs full speed and dives for the base.
Weisbrod has a nearly perfect stolen base percentage of 98.41% as she has only been caught stealing once all season, which was back against Chaffee on Sept. 2. Kaiden still stole two bases in the game, though, that Jackson won handedly at 10-0.
To no one’s surprise, Weisbrod also leads the Indians in runs scored as she’s crossed home plate 52 times. Kaiden is also one of Jackson’s six starters with a batting average above .400 at .453 while also having 43 hits, three triples and 22 runs batted in.
The other top batters for the Indians outside of Weisbrod include junior Miley Conklin (.516 BA), junior Jaylie Walther (.469), senior Kam Tucker (.460), sophomore Ashlyn Dawes (.421), sophomore Madalyn Stelling (.402).
Along with her batting, Dawes is one of Jackson’s top pitchers with an overall record of 8-3 as she’s recorded a team-high 92 strikeouts while producing an earned run average of 1.42. Senior Zoe Flath and junior Kimmora Carothers have combined for an undefeated record on the rubber outside of Dawes at 7-0 and 3-0, respectively.
Like Weisbrod, who has committed to play collegiately at Southwest Baptist, fellow seniors Flath, Tucker and Ella Mangels will all continue their playing careers as well next school year. Mangles and Tucker will both do so at Mineral Area College together, while Flath is set to play at Missouri Baptist.
Kaiden is hoping she and the rest of this senior class can be the first one to bring home Jackson softball its first-ever district championship as the district playoffs start this Friday with the Indians (29-4) as the No. 1 seed.
“Just having a good team all-around is amazing — you get to relax,” Weisbrod said. “You just get to have fun and play the game you love. There’s not as much pressure as there’s been in the past.”
“As long as we stay consistent and where we’re at — just keep putting in the work and putting in the work — I think we could get possibly get a district championship.”
This is the fourth-straight season Jackson has now recorded at least 20 wins under Coach Wilding, who took over the program back in 2019. Wilding also has Indians baseball head coach Josh Roach serving as an assistant, and Coach Roach led Jackson to its first-ever state final four appearance this past spring.
“Coach Wilding is like a big ole’ teddy bear — he gets very excited at everything we do,” Weisbrod said. “One of my favorite moments was when we hugged at the end of a game, and it was my favorite thing ever.
“Roach has always supported me throughout and has been very positive this season. Without them, I would not have been able to do what I did.”