Softball season ends with strong effort
Minutes after she watched the winning run cross the plate for Bishop Ward in the bottom of the seventh inning, Basehor-Linwood softball coach Susan Mayberry didn't know what to say.
Mayberry knew her team had fought hard during its first-round game Monday, May 13, and she knew that an error in the bottom of the inning with two outs ultimately cost the Bobcats the game.
The reason Mayberry didn't know what to say after suffering the season-ending loss was because she hadn't planned on saying anything at all until at least a few days later.
"I told the girls after the game that I didn't have any speech ready because I really thought we'd be playing on Wednesday," a disappointed Mayberry said. "Unfortunately, our season's over."
However, before BLHS's season ended, the Lady 'Cats played one of their best games of the season. Junior Abby Ross started on the mound for the Bobcats and through three innings she dominated. Ross sat down the Cyclones in order in the first and second inning and Bishop Ward's first hit didn't come until the second batter of the third inning. That first hit proved to be costly, though, as the first Cyclone to reach base later came around to score to tie the game at 1-1.
BLHS took the lead in the top of the third when Terra Nichols led things off with a solid single to right field. Ross followed with a single and Emily Hoffman knocked a groundball to the shortstop, but she bobbled it and Nichols scored.
After Ross gave up the tying run in the bottom of the inning, Bishop Ward had runners on second and third with two outs, but Ross got Stacy Pratt to ground out weakly to short to preserve the 1-1 tie through three.
"Every night out, Abby puts us in a position to win," Mayberry said. "She comes to play every game and she certainly did that tonight. We just didn't have the offense we needed it was the same story all year."
Neither team was able to muster much offense in the next few innings. In the fourth, both teams sent just four batters to the plate, and in the fifth neither team threatened at all.
In the next inning, senior Lesley Hancock worked the count for a walk and reached second, but was stranded there to end the inning.
Two walks in the bottom of the inning put runners at first and second for Bishop Ward in their half of the sixth, but as she had done all game long, Ross settled down and got ground balls.
As the teams moved to the final inning, the tension was mounting and it could be heard in the Bishop Ward cheers or the instructions from Mayberry at third base.
"Don't wait for somebody to do it, be the one," Mayberry continually shouted to batter after batter.
With one away in the seventh Kara Lackner grounded a ball to the shortstop and charged toward first base. The throw sailed high and Lackner was on second with only one out.
"I thought that was the one," Ross said of when she saw Lackner reach second.
Instead, Lackner was also left stranded and the game was left in the hands of the Bobcat defense.
"Hitting is so mental," Mayberry said. "You search for anything you can to motivate a hitter, but unfortunately you can't be successful if you don't score runs."
Ross retired the first two Bishop Ward batters with ease in the seventh inning, but two straight singles to right and a walk loaded the bases and set the stage for the game's final batter. With the count at 2-2, Bishop Ward's Stacy Pratt sent a ball toward second base where Lackner went down to make the play. However, when she came up Lackner was without the ball and the winning run crossed the plate.
"If you would've told me that the game was going to end that way, I wouldn't have believed it," Mayberry said of the error. "Kara has played so well all season for us. That one play was not why we lost."
Lackner's teammates agreed wholeheartedly with their coach about that.
"It wasn't just that one play that hurt us," Ross said. "I thought she had it. But we could've done a lot before that so that play wouldn't have mattered."
The loss dropped BLHS's final 2002 record to 8-13 and it marked the second straight season the Lady 'Cats were ousted in the first round of regionals. Despite that melancholy fact, Mayberry is excited for the future.
"I'm really excited that we have some younger players with the hunger and desire to come back next year and get us back where we need to be," Mayberry said. "In sports you always face adversity and the championship teams are able to overcome that adversity. This year we faced a lot of adversity and we weren't able to overcome it."