LHS baseball, softball, soccer fall in playoffs
Tuesday afternoon began with members of the Lansing High baseball, softball and soccer teams eagerly chasing their state tournament dreams.
By the end of the day, however, all three squads were heading home for the last time. The top-seed Lansing baseball team lost to fourth-seed Shawnee Heights 8-4 in the regional championship game at LHS field. The third-seeded LHS softball team fell to No. 2-seed Topeka Seaman 5-0 in the regional title game. The No. 1-seed Lansing soccer team led No. 16-seed Bishop Miege 1-0 at halftime but eventually lost 4-1 in the first round of the state playoffs.
Although all three teams' seasons are over, Lansing still has three teams alive in the postseason. The track team will travel to Hummer Sports Park in Topeka on Friday for the Class 5A regional meet. Tennis players Chris Bristow, Chris Hancock, Shawn Jung and Matt Warner will head to Kossover Tennis Center in Topeka on Friday and Saturday for the state meet. Golfers Chris Nelson and Andrew Cameron will compete at the state meet Monday at Ironhorse Country Club in Leawood.
Here are recaps from Lansing's games Tuesday. For more on their games, pick up the May 19 edition of The Current or visit lansingcurrent.com.
Shawnee Heights 8, Lansing 4
The Lansing High baseball team rolled into the regional tournament with a sparkling 15-5 record. Shawnee Heights came in with a 10-10 mark.
Neither record mattered. Both teams coasted to victories in their regional semifinal matches and only one would eventually go to state.
The state-bound team is Shawnee Heights. The T-Birds handed Lansing an 8-4 defeat at LHS field by capitalizing on a season-high seven errors by the Lions. Junior pitcher Chris Wagner was nearly flawless on the mound through six innings as he allowed just four hits and no earned runs. At that point the Lions trailed 5-2, though, because of the plethora of errors.
Senior John Tytla nearly hit the stadium lights when he smashed a two-run homer that pulled the Lions within 5-4 in the bottom of the sixth.
Heights loaded the bases with one out in the top of the season thanks to a single, a walk and an intentional walk. Catcher Bill Wigington then smashed a three-run triple down the left field line that effectively put the game out of reach. Lansing went quietly in the bottom of the inning with a fly out to center and a pair of strikeouts.
The Lions finished the season with a 16-6 record. The game was the last one for seniors Conn Blakley, Josh Coleman, Jon Terrill, Lonnie Hansen, Curtis Burgoon, Matt Mowery and Tytla.
It also was the final game for coach Terry Stueve. He will be moving to Salina because his wife received a new job there. His final record as the Lions coach was 35-10 in two seasons.
Lansing 7, Highland Park 3
The Lions had trouble adjusting to the Scots' excessive use of off-speed pitches and, as a result, were slow to pile on the runs. Senior Conn Blakley put LHS on the board in the bottom of the first when he doubled and then scored on junior Jeff Terrill's base hit. Junior Mike Bayless doubled and scored in the second for a 2-0 lead. A walk, error and single led to three third-inning runs as LHS jumped on top 5-0.
Highland Park (1-18) pulled within 5-3 in the top of the fifth by stringing together a single, an error and another two base hits. Lansing responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning, however. Then Blakley, the Lions' starting pitcher, put the game away as he closed out his seven-hitter with his sixth strikeout of the night.
The victory advanced the Lions to the regional title game against Shawnee Heights. The T-Birds knocked off Schlagle 15-0 in the other regional semifinal game.
Topeka Seaman 5, Lansing 0
The Lansing High softball team knew it had its hands full with Class 5A softball power Topeka Seaman heading into the regional championship at Seaman, but the Lions sent an early message that they weren't scared.
If anything, it was the Vikings who might have been shuddering a bit.
"When it was 0-0 going into the fourth inning I think (the Vikings) were kind of taken back by that," LHS coach Terry Cornett said. "But we just couldn't put them away or get a run."
Cornett said junior pitcher Dana Sanders mowed through the Seaman lineup during the first four innings. Meanwhile, he said his girls were making good contact with the ball but were unable to slip one past the Vikings' tough defense.
"We really hit the ball," Cornett said. "Their third baseman snuffed out at least four. The pitcher caught two line-drives right back at her. The shotstop had a cannon and we couldn't get anything past her. Their left fielder made two superb catches."
The Vikings finally plated a run in the fifth and then strung a series of hits together for four more runs in the sixth. LHS had the bases loaded in the top of the seventh but was unable to bring the runners home.
The Lions ended their season with a 10-8 record.
Lansing 8, Highland Park 1
A struggle throughout, the Lions shook off a gallant effort by the Scots and pulled away late for the seven-run victory that propelled LHS into the regional title game. The game was tied 1-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth when Lansing erupted for seven runs.
"We had some real good hits," Cornett said. "(Nichole) Twitchel had a hit. (Jessica) Stark had a hit. (Jessica) Kane had a hit. Morgan Chiles had a hit. Then they made an error or two and we just capitalized. Emma Hoagland laid down a great bunt and just got things going."
Bishop Miege 4, Lansing 1
The Lansing High girls' soccer team jumped to a 1-0 lead in the opening minutes when senior Kendra Sickinger nailed a corner kick that went right to senior Jessica Hauver. Hauver gathered the ball and drilled it past the Miege keeper for the early lead.
The Lions (13-4) held the lead through halftime but that wouldn't have been the case if not for freshman goalkeeper Katie Nietzke. Nietzke made four diving saves in the half to help preserve the lead as the Stags (5-10-3) outshot LHS 7-3 in the half. A major defensive stop by senior Christine Southard in the final seconds warded off another scoring opportunity.
The Lions knew going into halftime that their one-goal lead wouldn't be enough to defeat the quicker Stags. A quick strike in the second half could have done plenty for momentum. Instead, it was Miege who found the net first after intermission. Senior Danielle Langley redirected a pass with a toe flick over Nietzke's outstretched arms just 48 seconds into the second half. Langley collected an assist nine minutes later when she fed a pass to teammate Stephanie Kunz for an easy goal from point-blank range. Two more diving saves by Nietzke prevented additional Miege goals and kept the Lions close, but Langley struck again in the 83rd minute when she capitalized on a defensive breakdown in the box and buried home a goal for a 3-1 lead. Kunz added her second goal of the game with 2:19 left after another defensive breakdown for the final 4-1 score.
The loss may have stung for the Lions, but from a sheer numbers standpoint it showed they have closed the gap against a quicker Johnson County team like Miege. The Stags beat LHS 10-0 in the regular season last year and then ended the Lions' season with a 6-0 defeat last year. The goal differential was just three this time around.