Tonganoxie softball back on track
Chieftains rebound from disappointing losses to Bobcats
Pity the poor Bonner Springs High softball team.
The Braves had the lousy luck of being the next team on Tonganoxie's schedule after the Chieftains let two games slip away early last week against rival Basehor-Linwood.
"All day since (last Monday), I kind of felt bad for Bonner, because I was going to take everything out on them," said Tonganoxie senior pitcher Amie Riddle.
True to her word, Riddle overcame a pair of tough first innings with otherwise dominating stuff from the circle, tossing two complete-game victories Thursday as the Chieftains swept the Braves, 6-1 and 13-4, in a doubleheader at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds.
It was a welcome elixir for Tonganoxie (4-2 overall, 2-2 Kaw Valley League) in the wake of what took place some 72 hours earlier, when coach Diane Titterington's squad allowed Basehor-Linwood to twice rally for victories.
"I love the way we're gelling together as a team," said Tittrington, encouraged not only by Riddle's efforts in the circle, but a pair of 12-hit performances by the Tonganoxie offense. "They were all down after Basehor, but that may have been a good thing, because they realize it's not all going to be easy."
It was anything but easy for Riddle at the outset of both games against Bonner Springs. In Game 1, the Braves strung together four singles and a walk and took an early 1-0 lead. And, they were even more dangerous during the first frame of the nightcap, capitalizing on three hits, a walk and a trio of Tonganoxie errors in seizing a 3-0 advantage.
"Every single game so far, we've had a rough first inning," Titterington said.
Fortunately for Riddle and the Chieftains, those two quick outbursts proved to be nothing more than minor inconveniences. The right-hander threw six hitless innings to close out the opener, and allowed only one more run while scattering five hits over the remainder of Game 2. She finished with a combined nine strikeouts in the two games.
Mother Nature no doubt has something to do with Riddle's habit of finding early trouble. After taking care of Jefferson West in a season-opening doubleheader, persistent bad weather forced the Chieftains to endure a 17-day break before the Basehor-Linwood double-dip.
That's meant precious few opportunities for Riddle to practice her craft in a pressure-packed environment.
"I throw 150 pitches in practice, but you need to have it with batters," said Riddle, satisfied with her work in Thursday's outings. "I feel good. I think we're doing great. We've got to work out a couple of kinks, all of us."
Tonganoxie also didn't allow a slow start at the plate to have any lingering effects. The Chieftains finally came to life with a five-run sixth on its way to securing the opener, and carried the late Game 1 success into the nightcap, using a five-run second and a six-run fourth to generate the rout.
"I like to score some in every inning, but I always want to have one big inning," Titterington said. "Most of the year we've done that."
Melissa Pratt, Shannon Carlin, Sami Rush and Ashlee Lohman each had two hits in the opener, while Riddle was 3-for-3 with three RBI and Lindsey Himpel was 2-for-4 with two RBI in Game 2.
Tonganoxie traveled Tuesday to Carbondale for a doubleheader against Santa Fe Trail, and will play host to Perry-Lecompton at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the fairgrounds.
Tonganoxie 6, Bonner Springs 1
Bonner Springs 100 000 0 -- 1 4 2
Tonganoxie 010 005 x -- 6 12 1
Kelly and Cannon. Amie Riddle and Melissa Pratt. W -- Riddle. L -- Kelly. 2B -- Sami Rush (T).
Tonganoxie 13, Bonner Springs 4
Bonner Springs 301 000 0 -- 4 8 6
Tonganoxie 052 600 x --13 12 4
Wallace, Kelly (4) and Cannon. Amie Riddle and Melissa Pratt, Sarah Flaherty (2). W -- Riddle. L -- Wallace. 2B -- Wallace (BS), Lindsey Himpel (T).