What seemed unlikely for Campus when the Class 6A softball regionals began Thursday became a reality Saturday.
Campus beat top-seeded Southeast 10-9, clinching a berth in the state tournament – Campus’ first since 2003. The Colts (10-10) will open against top-seeded Olathe Northwest (21-1) on Thursday in Lawrence.
“Underdogs,” said sophomore pitcher-shortstop Lauryn Johnson, who had three hits, including two solo homers. “It took us so long – since ’03 – but we finally made it happen, especially for our seniors.”
The Colts, who needed eight innings for a 4-3 victory in their regional opener, started fast on the Buffaloes (16-6) and never let up.
“All year long they’re fighting together as a team,” said coach Doug Stanley, whose daughters Kelie and Bailie are on the team. “They just came together this last week, when they learned that it’s going to take all 15 of them to win, and they showed that (Saturday).”
Securing the state berth was anything but easy for Campus. Storms forced postponement until Saturday, and the game was moved to Maize South’s artificial turf field from Two Rivers Softball Complex, which had a tournament booked for Saturday.
Campus struck for two runs in the first for a 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Hannah Chrisman and Kelie Byers, then answered Southeast’s five-run third with five runs in the top of the fourth. Campus and got tie-breaking home runs from Johnson in the fifth and the seventh innings. Two other sophomores, MaKayla Chavez and Chrisman, also had three hits for the Colts.
Southeast, winners of 15 of 20 games entering the regional, found itself in the unaccustomed position of playing catch-up, but flexed its muscle in the third to erase the deficit and take a 5-2 lead.
“We’ve played a long stretch of games where we got out on the other team early,” Southeast coach Loren Scarbrough said. “We haven’t played in a game since the first week of the season where we’ve been down early.”
Johnson surrendered two-run homers to Sydni Hawkins and Emily Fox in the Buffaloes’ five-run third.
The Buffaloes put up two in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 9-9 tie.
Then Johnson again smashed a shot to center in the seventh off Southeast starter Avery Greasham for the victory.
“That was my main thing,” said Johnson, who also homered Thursday against Junction City. “I was just trying to improve my team, and just one hit kind of wins it all.”
It was an unfortunate end to a great season for Southeast, but Scarbrough remained proud of what these Buffaloes had accomplished, and said they’d be back.
“We only have one senior on the team,” she said. “We’re excited about the opportunities going forward. We wanted to go to state this year, but they’ve gone further than any Southeast team ever has, and they should be nothing but proud of themselves for what they’ve done.
“Both teams showed a lot of heart, and a lot of guts, especially because they’re so young.”
10 15 3
9 9 4
W – Johnson. L – Greasham. HR – Campus, Johnson 2; Southeast, Hawkins, Fox.