Lunatics fourth at USSSA State
Shawnee The Lunatics, an 18-and-under softball team featuring an entourage of Lansing High School alumni and a current LHS student, placed fourth at the USSSA State Tournament on Sunday at Mid-America West Sports Complex.
The Lunatics lost their opening round game to the Lansing Outlaws 3-1 but then rattled off back-to-back victories to advance to the final four. They rallied past the Flames of Nebraska in the first game of the consolation bracket and then put together a string of solid at-bats and plenty of good defense as they held off the Basehor-Bonner Lady Sox 2-0 to advance to the round of six.
Up next was the Topeka Explosion, a squad that won six games in a row the week before to win the AFA State Tournament. Strong pitching and defense dominated the game as it remained scoreless for seven innings and went to international tiebreaker rules (each team starts with a runner on second base).
The Explosion quickly loaded the bases with no outs, but the defense held strong and didn't allow a run. Then, in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Lunatics had their chance. They started with a runner on second and advanced her to third on a ground ball by former LHS player Heather Garza. The next batter struck out, but then former LHS player Katie Thompson ripped a two-out single that allowed the game-winning run to score.
Abby Mears earned the shutout victory on the mound as she struck out 11 and allowed just three hits in eight innings of work.
The Lunatics finally hit the wall in the final four against the Abilene Eagles. The game - the Lunatics' third of the day - began at 4 p.m. in 95-degree heat. The humidity - and some solid hitting by Abilene - were too much for the Lunatics to overcome. They fell into an 8-0 hole early and played catch-up the rest of the way. In the final inning they plated four runs, but it wasn't enough to pull out the win and advance to the championship game.
The fourth-place finish marked the Lunatics' third top-four finish in six tournaments this summer. They'll next play at the AFA National Tournament in Lawrence beginning on Tuesday at Clinton Lake Sports Complex.
The Lunatics' roster boasts several players with ties to Lansing. Second baseman Kasey Denney will be a senior at Lansing High School this fall. Third-baseman Heather Garza and shortstop Katie Thompson were 2004 LHS graduates. Lansing native Meghan Fardelmann - who will play hockey this fall at Boston College - is a utility player for the Lunatics.