SALINA – Once the Class 4A-Division I softball pairings were made, Augusta coach Shane Steinkamp knew he had an easy motivational ploy for his team.
There it was, top-seeded Augusta facing DeSoto, the team that beat the Orioles for the 2013 4A title. It was Augusta’s lone loss.
“That’s something we talked about all week,” Steinkamp said. “We talked about DeSoto taking us out from a year ago. The revenge factor played. The kids really wanted this, and that was our focus all week long on what we were trying to do.
“ Team takes you away from your dream last year, you can take them away and you’re one step closer to your dream this year.”
Augusta (19-4) beat DeSoto 9-1 Thursday to advance to Friday’s semifinals at 11 a.m. against Fort Scott (16-7.
“Last year when we got interviewed after the championship game, the guy was like, ‘How does it feel to lose your first game of the year?’ and we were crying,” Augusta catcher Casady Marlnee said. “It feels great to knock them out of the first round.”
Augusta got the win the way it has all season — strong pitching from Megan Hayes (three hits, six strikeouts, one walk) and a tough lineup of hitters (nine hits).
The only mistake Hayes made came against the third batter, Morgan Stonestreet, when Hayes threw a changeup that went high. Stonestreet hit a solo homer over the center-field wall.
But in classic Hayes fashion, she shook it off.
“It happens,” she said. “We have to score to win anyway. It’s kind of the game. I feel like I pitched really good. That’s one of my better days. I probably threw two fastballs. My curveballs were on point, and my changeups.”
Augusta took the lead in the third inning when the Orioles scored two runs, including one off an Abby Tipton RBI following DeSoto’s intentional walk of Brooke Eberhardt.
Then in the fourth, Augusta had a two-out rally sparked by No. 9 hitter Taylor Hinnekamp’s grounder to third. Two batters later, shortstop Morgan Kirk hit a two-run double for the 4-1 lead. Augusta scored three more in the inning.
“Once we get a couple people rolling (at the plate), it rolls downhill within the team,” Steinkamp said. “ You get playing with some adrenaline, and you know you have Megan Hayes on the mound, you’re going to go down and shut the door.”
“We’ve been a long-ball hitting team all season,” said McPherson coach Danica Fitzmorris, who also got a homer from Jasmine Wann. “ The short fence was exciting. The girls were drooling a little bit.”
Wamego nearly came all the way back after falling behind 7-2 after the first four innings. Wamego scored three runs in the sixth and the seventh before Hoffman regained control.
“They started hitting the ball, started picking my pitches up a little better,” Hoffman said. “I was getting a little tired. I relied on my defense and have complete confidence in them.”
But Louisburg’s Miranda White led off the fifth with a single to right as the Wildcats (16-6) scored five runs, including a solo homer by Brecken Sigg with two outs.
“It’s sort of something we’ve done all season. We’re playing really well, and we just have that one bad inning,” Rose Hill coach Kim Waltman said. “It may be errors. It may be just that they’re hitting and we die. We have that one bad inning and try to fight back through it, but in most of our losses, that’s what happened.”
Rose Hill responded in the sixth with a leadoff hit by Brooklyn Tolbert. The Rockets took advantage of some Louisburg miscues and got RBIs from Kendra Baldridge and Dani Sherwin to get within 5-3.
Even though it came down to needing tying runs in the top of the seventh, Rose Hill didn’t panic.
“We have been hitting the ball so well in the last seven games that I don’t think there was anyone in the dugout who didn’t think we could hit the ball,” Waltman said.
Augusta 9, DeSoto 1
|DeSoto||100||000||0||—||1 3 4|
|Augusta||002||700||x||—||9 9 1|
W – Hayes. L – Bascom. HR – DeSoto, Stonestreet.
McPherson 10, Wamego 8
|Wamego||101||003||3||—||8 10 4|
|McPherson||430||201||x||—||10 14 4|
W – Hoffman. L – Faiola. HR – McPherson, Wann, Hoffman, Axelson.
Louisburg 5, Rose Hill 3
|Rose Hill||000||003||0||—||3 4 2|
|Louisburg||000||050||x||—||5 6 3|
W – Cannon. L – Wheeler.
Megan Hayes, Augusta pitcher
Casady Marlnee, Augusta catcher
McPherson pitcher Maddy Hoffman
Augusta softball coach Shane Steinkamp
McPherson softball coach Danica Fitzmorris