Basehor-Linwood moves on to Salina
Bobcats cruise to regional championship, earn first state berth since 2005
Brooke Redmond struck out De Soto’s nine-hole hitter for the final out Friday at Field of Dreams. In an instant, celebration ensued.
The Bobcats had knocked off De Soto, 6-1, in the Class 4A regional championship game and punched their ticket to the state tournament in Salina.
Coach Susan Mayberry rose up from her bucket seat and tossed her pen and notepad into the air. She ran toward the mound, where a host of Bobcats congregated, celebrated and went a little crazy.
They hugged each other, shed tears and looked for other teammates to hug.
Parents snapped pictures, pointed to their daughters and congratulated each other on the team’s success.
The group celebrated on the same field where they had practiced for the first time early in the season and set the goal of qualifying for state.
They set the goal of getting to state and achieved it, Mayberry would say. That determination, she reminded them, is part of what has made this team so special.
They have hung together since last season’s difficult regional final loss and focused on finishing the job this time. They did it, and now they’re headed to state for the first time since 2005 and for the fifth time under Mayberry.
The celebration stopped as they received the championship plaque.
Players said the whole thing was surreal.
“Oh yeah, I really don’t know what to say about it,” Olivia Cowan said. “The whole team was so dedicated to success. It is amazing. It’s the best feeling that I have ever had.”
In a way, the Bobcats never seemed challenged in the title game.
Basehor-Linwood struck first in the bottom of the first inning. Megan Rehm singled and scored on a double by Hannah Tush.
In the second inning, De Soto had runners on first and second with two outs. Cowan, the BLHS left fielder, made a diving catch to end the inning and preserve the lead.
The catch propelled the Bobcats in the next inning as BLHS scored two more times. Tara Chumley reached base and scored. Later, Rehm scored again when Courtney Leive drove her home.
Following the inning, Redmond began to dominate the De Soto batters, facing just 13 in the next three innings. She struck out three during that stretch and also received strong defensive support.
Basehor-Linwood added three more runs in the fifth inning.
With runners on first and second, the Bobcats perfectly executed a suicide squeeze as Rachel Neal bunted and brought home two runs. Leive scored on the bunt and Tush cross the plate on an error.
“When she called it, I just tried to put down a perfect hit,” Neal said. “The play describes our team; we are aggressive and we work together.”
Chumley later recorded a hit to drive in Neal.
De Soto trailed 6-0 in the seventh inning when Hannah Jokisch blasted a home run to spoil the shutout. The Wildcats got two more runners on base before Redmond retired the final out with a strikeout.
The Bobcats punched a ticket to state, and players felt the hard work had paid off.
“We have worked so hard, we deserve it,” Rehm said. “We have had three years of tears and it is nice to have the work finally pay off.”
Mayberry said it was a story of the team staying together and becoming a team. Players didn’t necessarily worry about anything outside of the players on the team, and throughout the season made plays when they had to. The title game was no exception.
“We had great defensive plays and timely hitting,” she said. “On down the line it took everybody contributing to get us to qualify.”
The Bobcats enter state with a 21-2 record and as the No. 2 seed. They will play Colby (16-7) at 5 p.m. Friday.
If the team wins, it would play at 10 a.m. Saturday. The title game would take place at 1 p.m.