Senior Night sneaks up on Tonganoxie softball
It has been a strange season for the Tonganoxie High softball team, and last week served as a prime example of the odd obstacles the team has dealt with.
It started April 29 when the Chieftains celebrated their Senior Night. A nice moment, sure, but it kind of felt out of place, what with the fact THS had only played 10 games on the season at that point and the doubleheader with Lansing marked the third and final home date on the THS slate.
"It came up really fast," senior catcher Melissa Pratt said. "I was really surprised."
She wasn't the only one. Even Tonganoxie coach Diane Titterington was taken aback.
"It almost caught us by surprise the week before when we looked at our schedule and realized, oh yeah, it's our last home game," she said.
Titterington said the scheduling snafu was out of her hands, explaining that schedules are set far in advance of the season.
"Something must have happened two or three years ago that got it skewed just a little bit," she said.
Then there was the outcome of the twinbill with Lansing. THS had a ceremony for the seniors - Amanda Albert, Sarah Flaherty, Lindsey Himpel, Ashlee Lohman, and Melissa and Megan Pratt - and their parents in between an 8-0 loss and an eight-inning, 3-2 setback.
"It was kind of upsetting we didn't win," said Pratt of the final home game with a tough Lansing squad. "I kind of expected us to do a little better."
Himpel was disappointed on her final day as a Chieftain at Leavenworth County Fairgrounds, too, but for another reason.
"I tried not to be sentimental, but it's sad because I've played with some of them forever," she said of her teammates.
Despite some disappointments though, Himpel said, the team has done a good job of focusing on the task at hand.
"I think for the most part we're all staying pretty positive," Himpel said. "Personally I think this is one of the best year's we've had because the chemistry is a lot better than it has been in the past."
That chemistry was further tested later in the week when a string of injuries and circumstances set them back. Injuries to third baseman Lindsay Fatherley and shortstop Kaitlyn Wolken forced THS to play games at Bishop Ward and Mill Valley without the regular left side of its infield, and the two might be out for the remainder of the season. Flaherty, a starting right fielder, also missed the games while pulling double-duty as the THS soccer team's goalkeeper.
Tonganoxie lost the first game at Ward, 5-1, before the second was suspended because of weather. The next day the Chieftains lost at MVHS in the first game, 5-2, and finally got their first win of the week, 5-3, in the second game.
Pratt homered in the victory and each of the Himpel sisters tripled. Second baseman Sami Rush secured the win with a spectacular catch in the bottom of the seventh when she held on to a pop-up while falling backward into the outfield.
Himpel, who moved from the outfield to shortstop because of the infield injuries, said the team did well to win a road game with a makeshift lineup.
"Injuries have sort of thrown people into different positions and since there's so many people who aren't used to each other that throws everything off just a little bit," she said.
The win at MVHS put THS at 7-8 entering a Tuesday matchup at Silver Lake. The Chieftains will wrap up their trial-filled regular season Thursday at Basehor-Linwood.