Extra-innings loss to Larned eliminates MHS softball
The players and coaches on McLouth High’s softball team thought they had a legitimate chance at winning a Class 3A championship this past weekend in Manhattan, but a mistake in extra innings ended the Bulldogs’ season in the first round of the state tournament.
No. 6 seed Larned had runners on second and third with two outs in the top of the 10th inning Friday night when the runner on second base hada big lead following a pitch. Looking for a chance to record the final out with a pickoff, MHS coach Ballard Patterson said, relief pitcher Kendra Leach threw to second base and missed her target, allowing LHS to score both base runners and go on to win 4-2 in extras.
“It was a really, really poor decision,” Patterson said, adding that will happen sometimes with young players.
Mistakes, the coach added, were the difference in the season-ending loss for McLouth (20-4). Trailing by a run, the Bulldogs gave up another in the top of the sixth on a passed ball, extending Larned’s lead to 2-0, before Kaley Patterson blasted an RBI-double in the seventh that plated Leach and Jessie Troupe drove in Kaley to tie the game.
If No. 3 seed MHS could have avoided that passed ball in the sixth, Ballard said, his team might have advanced to the state semifinals instead of suffering a “very emotional” loss.
“It could have went either way,” he said, “we were just first to make mistake.”
The coach said the Bulldogs were out of position a few times and not mentally prepared to play.
“We beat ourselves,” he said. “We just made really poor defensive mistakes.”
Kaley started at pitcher for McLouth and threw six innings, but Ballard said she didn’t have her normal control or snap on her fastball, so she was relieved by Leach, who pitched the remainder of the game.
Offensively, the coach said, the Bulldogs had trouble just making contact against Larned ace Brittney Perez. He said Troupe, Leach and Kaley were the only players consistently putting a bat on the ball.
Even though MHS reached the state tournament, Ballard said the team wasn’t happy with that accomplishment.
“This was a disappointment,” he said.
Ballard said the 2011 Bulldogs were the best team he has coached at McLouth and they should have done more than appear at state.
“A lot of places would be happy with that but this was the time for us to break through and get our state championship,” he said, “and we didn’t do it.”
Osage City defeated Larned in the semifinals and went on to win the 3A championship. Larned finished third.
A previous version of this story has been updated.