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Tonganoxie softbal finding new life as regionals start on Monday

May 11, 2005

Arguably the hottest team in the Kaw Valley League is ready for regionals.

Tonganoxie, which at one point was 3-8, stood at 10-9 after Monday's doubleheader sweep of Pleasant Ridge in Easton. The Chieftains finished their regular season Tuesday against Mill Valley in a game that was postponed from earlier in the season.

Mill Valley handled Tonganoxie easily in the first game of that doubleheader on a soggy afternoon in Tonganoxie. That game, at the time, dropped Tonganoxie to 3-8 on the season. Since then, however, the Chieftains have gone 7-1.

Regardless of that game's outcome, the Chieftains should be in a prime position heading into regionals Monday at Basehor's Field of Dreams.

The Chieftains should have the No. 2 seed with either 10-10 or 11-9 record.

Basehor-Linwood, which will be the top seed, swept Tonganoxie earlier in the season. But again, that was before the Chieftains recent tear. In fact, if Tonganoxie could have defeated Lansing in their second game that went into extra innings last week, the Chieftains would have reeled off four straight doubleheader sweeps.

Regardless, Tonganoxie seems to be playing at a peak level with regionals a few days away.

"We're a totally different team," Addie Heim said.

The senior first baseman has been a spark for the Chieftains lately. Against Bishop Ward last week, Heim had an inside-the-park home run.

Against Pleasant Ridge on Monday, she had a two-run home run that cleared the fence in the first game. In her previous at-bat, Heim had another shot that had the distance, but went foul.

Tonganoxie won the first game, 9-5, and erupted in the second game, 14-3, in five innings.

"They all were hitting last night," THS assistant coach Debbie Himpel said.

Along with Heim's home run in the first game, she also had a single in the first game with 2 RBI. Laura Jeannin had a single and a double with 2 RBI, while Sarah Flaherty had a single and a double with 2 RBI. Amie Riddle, meanwhile, also had a single and a double with 2 RBI.

In the second game, Jessica Whitledge made contact for an inside-the-park home run, along with 2 RBI. Lindsay Himpel went 3-for-4 in the second game. She was a home run away from the cycle in the second game as Himpel had a single, double and triple.

Mallorie Cartwright, meanwhile, went 3-for-3 with two doubles and a single. The hits helped her to 3 RBI in the game as well.

From the mound, Riddle again pitched with power. She had eight strikeouts and gave up just five hits and no walks in the first game.

"Amie had a good night," Himpel said. "She pitched phenomenally the first game and had a great second game."

Going out in style

Senior Day couldn't have gotten much better Thursday in Tonganoxie.

All four Tonganoxie High softball seniors -- Addie Heim, Ashlee Murphy, Laura Jeannin and Katie Harris -- started for the Chieftains against Bishop-Ward.

In the first game, Tonganoxie's hot bats continued to sizzle as the Chieftains defeated the Cyclones, 10-0. THS also won the second game, 12-2.

In the first game, Murphy belted out two inside-the-park home runs, while Heim had another.

Amie Riddle threw a complete-game shutout in the first game and then started game 2.

Bishop Ward scored one run against Riddle in the top of the third. Amanda Albert came in for Riddle in the fifth inning. She pitched into the sixth when the Cyclones scored another run. That cut Tonganoxie's lead to 10-2, but the Chieftains scored two more runs in the bottom of the sixth and ended the game early because of the 10-run rule.

Tonganoxie's defense in the second game set the tone for the Chieftains. With a Bishop Ward runner at first, Murphy fielded a groundball to second. She threw to shortstop Hannah Herrstrom who stepped on second and then threw to Addie Heim at first for a successful double play.

In the bottom of the second, Tonganoxie put four runs on the board. Jessie Whitledge was the big hero in the second inning. With the bases loaded, Whitledge roped a triple to the outfield and put THS on top, 3-0.

THS assistant coach Debbie Himpel said Whitledge recently was brought up from junior varsity for "some extra speed."

After Whitledge ignited THS in the second, the Chieftains proceeded to score in each of the remaining four innings for the doubleheader sweep.

"I feel like they're really starting to click," Himpel said. "It seems like we have our positions set now."

Tonganoxie 5-3, Lansing 2-4

Lansing committed six errors on May 3 that led to four THS runs in game 1.

The Chieftains eventually secured a 5-2 victory against a team that placed third at last year's Class 4A state tournament.

But in game 2, Lansing had the upper hand. The Lions defeated Tonganoxie in eight innings by a 4-3 score, snapping a three-game Tonganoxie winning streak.

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