Jessi Haffner has already helped Bishop Carroll win three state championships, so holding Shawnee Heights to three hits in a 9-0 victory Thursday in the opening round of the Class 5A softball tournament felt routine.
Not just to her, but the entire Golden Eagles team.
“We won state the last three years and the year before I got here they took second,” Haffner said. “All the older kids who have been here before, we try to keep the younger kids calm. We try to prevent them from getting freaked out by the environment and try to help them stay relaxed.”
Carroll looked at home from the start, taking a 9-0 lead after three innings.
The Eagles scored three runs in the first inning, one run in the second and five runs in the third. They had 14 hits by the end, with a home run from Brittany Finney highlighting the afternoon.
“We were aggressive,” Carroll coach Steve Harshberger said. “We were staying back and driving the ball. Once we got up 7-0 and 9-0, being warm out here I think we lost a little focus on our hitting and they were mixing speeds. Lack of focus and mixed speeds and you’re not going to perform very well.”
Carroll could have ended the game early by scoring a 10th run, but that was about the only thing that didn’t go its way.
“There are little things we wish we could have capitalized on,” Haffner said. “But, overall for the first game, we did really good.”
The Eagles will take on Kapaun Mount Carmel in the semifinals at 11 a.m. Friday with a trip to the 2 p.m. championship game at stake.
They are optimistic they will advance. At the least, they know nerves won’t be a factor.
“They are confident,” Harshberger said. “They have been here before. This is the first year in four years we have had to travel for the state tournament. That is the only thing that is new. The majority of the starters have all gone through this. They just stay in their routine and move on to the next one.”
Maize South 6, Mill Valley 1 – Kelsey Sterneker, a senior pitcher, allowed one hit and one run over seven innings. She had the Jaguars off balance all evening, carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
“We played them earlier, so we knew they were susceptible to curveballs,” Maize South coach Teri Larson said. “We threw a lot of curveballs today. Some were breaking quite a bit. It was hot and it was working. She has a lot of pitches, but she stuck with that one.”
Mill Valley’s lone run came in the sixth inning. Maize South led 5-0 up to that point.
With the victory, the Mavericks will take on Topeka Seaman at 11 a.m. Friday. The winner will advance to the championship game.
Kapaun 7, Hays 6 – With one big inning, Kapaun saved its season and extended its hopes for a state championship.
The Crusaders won despite trailing 4-0 after five innings. A comeback seemed unlikely the way Hays pitcher Hannah Hearld was piling up strikeouts, but everything changed in the sixth inning.
Kapaun’s first five batters got on base and scored to chase Hearld from the game. Then Elizabeth Dwyer scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. Kapaun added another run before ending the inning and holding on for victory.
Hays fought back and nearly tied the game in the seventh, but Kapaun pitcher Kody Ross ended things with a strikeout.
Carroll 9, Shawnee Hts 0
|Shawnee Hts||000||000||0||—||0 3 0|
|Carroll||315||000||x||—||9 14 0|
W – Haffner. L – Lang. HR – Carroll, Finney.
M. South 6, Mill Valley 1
|Mill Valley||000||001||0||—||1 1 0|
|Maize South||002||121||x||—||6 10 0|
W – Sterneker. L – Schriner.
Kapaun 7, Hays 6
|Kapaun||000||006||1||—||7 6 0|
|Hays||003||010||2||—||6 8 2|
W – Ross. L – Prough. HR – Kapaun, Brown.