Fast start allows revenge
Last season, the Louisburg Wildcats celebrated a regional championship and state berth over the Cardinals in their own backyard.
As Eudora faced the Wildcats for the first time since that pivotal game, one thing was clear. The Cardinal softball players hadn't forgotten.
"Coming into this game today, we all knew this was Louisburg," senior third baseman Kelsey Epperson said. "We remembered that they knocked us out last year and we were really pumped up to play them again."
Although the stakes were not quite as high as last year's regional final, the outcome was much more to the Cardinals' liking as Eudora rode the arm of Brynn Hamilton to a 5-2 win.
The junior notched a complete game and gave up no earned runs in her fourth win of the season.
"It was an important win for us," Eudora coach Cara Kimberlin said. "We got on them early and it really took the pressure off us and really boosted the self confidence."
Eudora (5-2) got on the board in the bottom of the first with a textbook run to take an early lead.
Freshman Bailey Scott, recently moved to the leadoff position, delivered a single up the middle and then stole second base on Wildcat pitcher Lindsey Tuter. Epperson moved the runner over with a sacrifice bunt before Mackenzie Salzman brought home the run with another single.
"As a coach, that's the way you want to score runs," Kimberlin said. "We moved Bailey to the leadoff spot because we thought we weren't using her speed. So today she hits a solid single and she stole second, so it paid off."
Louisburg tied the game in the top of the second with one of two unearned runs, but Hamilton shut the door on any other Wildcat threats in the inning.
"Brynn came out and pitched a heck of a game," Epperson said. "We played pretty well out there and she gives us a chance to win."
Eudora added the necessary runs for Hamilton in the bottom of the third as Scott once again got things going.
The outfielder laced a triple into the gap in left field, and Epperson and Salzman each earned free passes to load the bases.
The Cardinals got their second run of the game when junior second baseman Caitlyn Riser shot a single to right, scoring Scott.
The big blow of the game came just one batter later as senior shortstop Michelle Deluna drove a Kelsey Dennis pitch to the gap for a bases-clearing triple and a 5-1 lead.
Louisburg added a run in the sixth before the Cardinals finished things off in the seventh.
"This is such a huge confidence booster for us," Kimberlin said. "We're going into a tough part of the schedule and it was definitely a big win."
The Cardinals saw their four-game winning streak end Thursday as the Spring Hill Broncos upended Eudora 9-3 at Spring Hill.
The game began exactly as the head coach had hoped it wouldn't, with the Broncos getting the early lead.
"They were just getting singles here and there and they weren't hitting the ball hard at all," Kimberlin said. "But they were scoring runs and we couldn't afford to get down to a team like that early."
After scoring a pair of runs in the first, the Broncos essentially put the game away with three more in the second off of Hamilton, who was making her third start in four games.
Eudora had an opportunity to cut into the lead in the third, but squandered a bases-loaded opportunity in the third and never really threatened again.
The Cardinals host Gardner Thursday, and then will enjoy a week off before traveling to Wellsville April 20.