LAWRENCE — As soon as Maize finished its 10-4 victory over Olathe South in the Class 6A softball championship, the screaming started, the gloves soared into the air and parents' cameras tried to capture it all.
Yet moments later, as the field emptied and only a few players remained in the dugout, Maize pitcher and senior Katlyn Kern still couldn't put the situation into words.
"It's so crazy," Kern said. "I really just don't know what to say right now."
The fifth seed, Maize routinely used big innings to put away opponents.
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The Eagles pieced together timely hits throughout the tournament. They made enough defensive plays to hold leads. And on the mound, Kern held offenses in check, even after allowing runners to reach base.
"They just dug deep and played really well," Maize coach Jenny Meirowsky said. "It's overwhelming."
Kern, the starter in all three of Maize's games, labored through the first inning — and she did so again in the fourth and fifth — but in each case she managed to rally and limit Olathe South's offense.
She pitched a complete game and stranded nine runners.
"Her pitch is the outside corner and we weren't getting that a whole lot that game," Meirowsky said. "She fought through it and found some other stuff that would work."
She also had the support of a highly productive offense.
Maize (22-3) grabbed a 3-1 lead in the second inning with a little help from Olathe South (20-5). After two singles and a walk loaded the bases, Laura Seemann drove in a run after being hit with a pitch.
Then Karissa Williams drove in a run with a single to Olathe South shortstop Amy Allen. Allen's throw skipped beyond first base, allowing another run to score.
The Falcons committed five errors.
"We were iffy on what was going to happen," Kern said. "But we always got our bats on the ball."
After sixth-seed Olathe South tied the game at 3-3 in the fourth, Maize rallied once more with two runs in the fourth.
Devon McCreath and Abby Furstenberg drove deep back-to-back doubles, and both hits scored a run to give Maize a 5-3 lead.
"It was a big confidence booster," McCreath said. "It just carried us through the rest of the game, getting ahead again. We were like, 'Oh God, we're tied. We have to work hard.' "
Maize appeared to do just that.
The Eagles tacked on five more runs in the sixth inning, extending their lead to 10-4 with the help of two more Olathe South errors that eased Maize into its postgame celebration.
"Insurance runs are always good," Meirowsky said, smiling.
Olathe South100 200 1 — 4 10 5 Maize030 205 x — 10 13 1
SM North 1, Washburn Rural 0
SM North000 100 0 — 1 3 1 Washburn Rural000 000 0 — 0 7 1
Maize 5, Washburn Rural 3
Maize000 050 0 — 5 9 3 Washburn Rural000 300 0 — 3 10 0
Olathe South 4, SM North 3
SM North020 000 00 — 3 8 4 Olathe South000 000 202 — 4 13 1