Cold bats doom Cards in regional
Two teams backed by enthusiastic fans gathered on the field of Johnson County 3 and 2 Baseball Club's main softball field for the Class 4A regional title game Tuesday evening.
Unfortunately one of those teams taking to the diamond for the championship game wasn't Eudora.
Instead, the third-seeded Cardinals sat dejected on the grass of the complex's far field where they were defeated just a few minutes earlier.
The absence from the title game could be summed up by the Cardinals' disappointing performance in their second-round 4-1 loss to Kansas City Piper.
"We just didn't show up," Eudora coach Cara Kimberlin said. "We came here and in two days earned one run. They were ready. They came in here and took the wind out of our sails early."
Eudora couldn't recover from a four-run first inning by the Pirates as well as its own anemic hitting, which had been a strong point for the team the entire year.
"We came into this tournament averaging six or sevens runs a game," Kimberlin said. "We got down so quickly and everyone felt like they had to go out and score four runs with one swing of the bat. It doesn't work like that -- especially in these games."
Eudora gave the ball to starting pitcher Brynn Hamilton in an attempt to advance to the championship game against Tonganoxie, who had beaten Bonner Springs in the day's earlier semifinal.
Hamilton though, was in trouble from the start as the first batter she faced was dealt a base on balls, setting the stage for the Pirates' big inning.
An RBI single, a double and a two-run triple by Piper's Allison Kaminski followed the walk. Kaminski scored on the next play as Caitlyn McCall delivered the inning's third hit.
The 4-0 lead would prove enough for Piper pitcher Allie Nichols, who retired the first nine Cardinal hitters she faced.
As for the Cardinals pitching, Hamilton went only one inning for Eudora and gave way to senior Karen Spence who shut out the Pirates for the duration of the game. Spence went six scoreless innings for the Cardinals, giving up just five hits.
Offensively the Cards couldn't get to Nichols until freshman Bailey Scott finally broke through in the fourth with a single to left field. She later scored on an infield single by senior Kelsey Epperson, giving the Cardinals their entire offensive outburst of the day, one run on just two hits.
This year's regional defeat was a different experience from last season's one-run loss to Louisburg in which the game came down to the final out.
"It's one thing to go out and compete and if you lose 4-3 than at least you played hard," Kimberlin said. "But today was frustrating because they came to play and we just didn't."
The loss ended the Cardinals' season with a 16-6 record.
Eudora made its way to the semifinal game against Piper by edging seventh-seed De Soto, 2-1, Monday night in the first round of the regional tournament.
The Cardinals pushed through behind a solid outing on the mound by Spence and some help from the Wildcat defense.
Eudora got on the board in the third inning by way of a close play at first base. With two outs and Scott at second, a ground ball by Epperson seemed to reach first in time, at least according to De Soto first baseman Katie Davis.
Davis rolled the ball to the pitchers mound, thinking the inning was over. Epperson was called safe and by the time the Wildcats realized the mistake, Scott had scored the first run of the game.
Eudora added what proved to be the winning run in the second on an RBI single by Spence.
De Soto threatened in the fifth by loading the bases, but junior Caitlyn Riser worked out of the jam to help preserve the win.