Bishop Carroll had its share of stumbles this softball season, including a season-opening doubleheader blowout at the hands of Maize.
"That's when people put us down at the bottom; no one thought we could come back," Carroll pitcher Megan Wilson said of her team that gave up 30 runs in those losses.
Even while Carroll won 16 of its final 18 regular season games, the Eagles weren't always particularly crisp. There were Wilson's walks, the inconsistent offense, the defense that committed too many errors.
Tuesday in the Class 5A regional championship at Two Rivers Youth Club, though, Carroll put together its best game, defeating defending 5A champion Andover Central 5-0. Carroll advances to the 5A tournament on May 28-29 in Topeka.
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"No one expected us to get this far," said Wilson, who struck out 11 and walked four. "We just beat the champions of 2009. I don't know how much better it can be. We're going to take this and roll into state. Our offense was amazing. I felt really good. Me and (catcher) Erica (Hampton) work really together. My defense was there for me, and they made the plays for me tonight."
Carroll coach Angie Dal Pozzo was just as thrilled.
"Everything finally came together," she said. "... This was the first game where I felt they came out ready to play and ready to win."
Carroll's first batter, Kaitlyn Carey, opened the bottom of the first with a hit at pitcher Heather Borg. The ball hit Borg's leg, she turned to throw to first, but no one was covering the bag and the throw went to the fence. Carey kept running and was heading into third when another throw was made. But that throw was off, allowing Carey to score on two errors.
"That was a huge, positive booster," Wilson said. "Going into this, I didn't know what will happen, then that first run scored and I thought, 'we can do this.' "
It was a frustrating way for Andover Central to start.
"It seemed like we just killed ourselves," said Jaguars coach Rita Frakes, whose team committed five errors. "I have no idea what we were doing. It's like we started off with this self-destructive moment."
Andover Central had its brilliant moments, too, such as left fielder Megan Sorlie throwing out Liz Carney at home and shortstop Victoria Wilson's diving catch. It wasn't enough.
Carroll pulled away in the fifth when it scored four runs — Kelsey Jones had an RBI single, and Hampton had a two-RBI single. But while the Jaguars put themselves in prime position to challenge Carroll — they had runners in scoring position eight times, including baserunners reaching third five times — they failed to score.
"So many times we had great scoring opportunities and kids that were hitting so well, we couldn't come up with the hits," Frakes said. "We hit the ball well at times... we couldn't pull the trigger."
Carroll 5, Central 0
Andover Central000 000 0 — 0 5 5 Bishop Carroll100 040 x — 5 8 1
Bishop Carroll 10, Winfield 3
Winfield000 000 3 — 3 7 5 Bishop Carroll540 010 x — 10 12 2
Andover Central 3, Andover 1
Andover01 000 0 — 1 4 2 Andover Central110 010 x — 3 7 2