Extras! Extras! THS softball loses regional final on long day
The Tonganoxie High softball team couldn't have had a much wilder end to its season Wednesday, May 14.
The Chieftains entered the postseason below .500, but found themselves in the regional semifinals with No.1 seed Baldwin.
After seven scoreless innings with the Bulldogs in Eudora, the Class 4A semi went to extras. THS finally scored what proved to be the winning run in the top of the ninth inning when Sarah Flaherty singled, stole second and third and scored on a passed ball.
That solitary run placed the Chieftains in the regional championship game later that night with Santa Fe Trail.
Tonganoxie trailed by four runs early in that contest, but, with a trip to state on the line, battled back to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings once again.
However, the Chieftains weren't as fortunate in the nightcap and fell, 6-5, to the Chargers when they couldn't match the SFTHS run in the bottom of the ninth.
THS had chances to get its second extra-inning victory of the day in that final frame. Samona Guerrera reached base when she was hit by a pitch. Emily Gripka came in to pinch run for the sophomore and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Taylor McKean.
Tonganoxie had the tying run in scoring position with one out and the top of its lineup coming to bat. Not only a tie, but a win seemed plausible to THS coach Diane Titterington once Lauren and Lindsey Himpel drew walks to load the bases.
"We were so close we could taste it," Titteriington said. "I just knew we had it."
But the Chieftains' season came to a close when Flaherty popped out and power-hitter Melissa Pratt hit a long fly ball to left that was caught by the well-positioned Charger defense.
"I was really pleased with the heart that they showed," Titterington said of her team after playing a pair of extra-inning postseason games without third baseman Lindsay Fatherley and shortstop Kaitlyn Wolken, both of whom missed the last few games of the season with injuries.
The coach said the real catalyst for Tonganoxie in the regionals was senior pitcher Amanda Albert. She threw all 18 innings for THS on Wednesday and fanned 10 batters during that stretch while pitching two complete games in one day for the first time in her career.
"She was the heart and soul of our team," Titterington said of Albert, the Chieftains' righty who has been pitching the whole season with a sore arm, adding that the senior had a "gutsy performance" on the final day of her career.
THS finished the season 10-12.
Himpel to play in all-star series
Tonganoxie senior Lindsey Himpel learned recently that she would represent the Chieftains, and the state of Kansas, in the upcoming Mo-Kan All-Star Softball Series - a game that pits Metro-area seniors from Kansas and Missouri against one another. The series will take place on June 9 in Shawnee.
Titterington will serve as one of the assistant coaches for the Kansas team.