Chieftain bats power team back to .500
There's nothing like the sound of aluminum to make a team feel a little better.
After dropping four games last week to powerhouses Piper and Mill Valley, Tonganoxie returned home Monday to face Perry-Lecompton.
Luckily for the Chieftains, their bats came alive.
Tonganoxie batted through the lineup once in each game against PLHS and swept the doubleheader, 7-5 and 10-1.
In the first game, the Chieftains trailed 2-1 thanks to defensive miscues in the top of the third. But Tonganoxie responded with five runs in the bottom of the third and held on for the victory.
Game 2, meanwhile, appeared to be a pitchers' duel through 4 1/2 innings. The teams were tied 1-1 before the Chieftains connected for three runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Then came the sixth when Tonganoxie again batted through and scored six more runs.
"It was nice to have those games after Mill Valley," THS coach Merri Samuels said. "We needed it."
Tonganoxie opened the season 3-1 before dropping below .500 after four straight losses combined to Piper and Mill Valley. The team is afloat again at 5-5 overall and 2-2 in the Kaw Valley League.
Katie Jeannin ignited the Chieftain bats in the first game. She opened the third with a triple. Laura Jeannin, Sarah Holliday, Amie Riddle, Ashlee Murphy and Mollie McCaffrey also had hits in that inning.
Tonganoxie's big inning in the second game also involved a triple and a string of base hits against the Kaws.
Katie and Laura Jeannin and Addie Heim all produced base hits before Sarah Holliday cleared the bases with a hefty triple to right field. Riddle and McCaffrey also had hits again in the inning.
It took the floodgates a few innings to open, but the win in game 2 eventually became a convincing one.
"It took us awhile to score that second game," Samuels said. "I knew it would come. We just had to be patient."
Samuels used a different lineup in the second game.
Mallory Cartwright, who played a junior varsity game first, caught for pitcher Katie Jeannin in the second game. Holliday, who has been nursing a sore hip, moved from catcher to center field. Murphy also moved from left field to third base, swapping with Riddle for those positions.
Cartwright also caught against Mill Valley. Samuels said she wanted to give Cartwright some playing time so she can back up Holliday once the postseason begins.
Tonganoxie travels Thursday to Bonner Springs to take on the Braves.
The teams have a common foe. BSHS split with Perry-Lecompton earlier in the season.
"They have some speed," Samuels said about the Bonner Springs.
Mill Valley 6-4, Tonganoxie 0-3
Last week's doubleheader against Mill Valley in Shawnee wasn't the team's best performance of the season.
Katie Jeannin did record 11 strikeouts in the first game, but the Mill Valley hurler threw 12 as she baffled Chieftain batters with some off-speed pitches.
Despite Jeannin's pitching, Tonganoxie still lost the first game because of subpar defense. Overall, the team committed seven errors in the two games.
In game 2, Tonganoxie opened with a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but Mill Valley chipped away at the lead and eventually secured a one-run victory.
Tonganoxie's runs came off the Mill Valley's No. 2 pitcher. MVHS then brought back its top pitcher and again allowed no Chieftain runs.
Michelle McWilliams did not play because of a knee injury and Addie Heim left the game after an inning and a half because of a hand injury.
Piper 5-8, Tonganoxie 3-5
With Sunflower Broadband Channel 6 in Tonganoxie for its area game of the week for the opener, the Chieftains looked good in front of the cameras early.
As they did against Mill Valley, THS opened with a three-run first inning against last year's Class 4A state runner-up.
Piper, however, shut down the Tonganoxie offense after that. The Pirates scored two in the third and three in the fourth and denied the Chieftains a league victory.
The Pirates erupted in the second game, scoring eight runs in five innings before Tonganoxie put on a furious rally in the final two innings
The Chieftains scored two in the sixth and three in the seventh, but fell short, 8-5.