Augusta catcher Casady Marlnee sent a pitch from McPherson’s Madison Hoffman sailing over the center-field fence at Bill Burke Park – a two-run home run that gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead over McPherson in the first inning of Friday’s Class 4A Division I championship game.
It was somewhat expected. Marlnee is a prototype for her position – 5-foot-11, built to hit for power and already signed to play next year for West Texas A&M.
What happened in the second inning was a bit of a surprise.
That’s when diminutive Augusta shortstop Morgan Kirk – perhaps the Orioles’ smallest player – took Hoffman to left field for a two-run home run of her own and a 4-0 lead, propelling Augusta to its first state title since 2006 with an 11-5 win over the Bullpups in the all-AV-CTL final.
“I was rounding first and didn’t think there was any way it was going out, but then I saw the left fielder tumble over the fence and heard everybody start screaming,” Kirk said. “I guess it was the best time to hit (a home run), because it was also my only one of the year.”
The Orioles and second-year coach Shane Steinkamp completed the trek back from last year’s disappointing loss to De Soto in the 4A championship game thanks to an offensive explosion that McPherson, which split a doubleheader with Augusta (21-4) during the regular season, wasn’t ready for.
“We had seven kids on the field today that were on the field last year, who brought back that feeling of finishing in second place,” Steinkamp said. “These kids have been focused all year we always take a one-step approach, but this has been their goal since we started back on March 1.
“You reel them back in at times and get them focused on what you need to do right now, but this was always the goal.”
Megan Hayes was the winning pitcher for Augusta, surviving a late burst by McPherson to get the win. The Orioles added four more runs in the third, starting with an RBI triple from Carly Phillips and followed by RBIs from Taylor Hinnenkamp, Kirk and Katy Nordman.
“(Steinkamp) told us that this was the reason why he pushed us so hard all year, to get to this point,” Kirk said. “This was what all the work was for, this was the payoff.”
An RBI double by Kylie Wesbrooks made the score 11-1 in the fourth inning. Wesbrooks also had a single, triple and home run in Augusta’s 9-1 semifinal win over Fort Scott on Friday.
Hoffman was the losing pitcher for McPherson (18-7), which was in the state tournament for the first time and defeated Louisburg 4-3 in the semifinals.
“We had too many mistakes and our bats didn’t show up until too late,” McPherson coach Danica Fitzmorris said. “A victory was doable on a good day, but today wasn’t that day.”
Augusta 11, McPherson 5
|McPherson||000||120||2||—||5 7 5|
|Augusta||224||300||x||—||11 14 1|
W— McBride. L— Hanson. HR—Augusta: Marlnee, Kirk; McPherson: Hoffman.
Augusta 9, Fort Scott 1
|Fort Scott||001||000||0||—||1 2 2|
|Augusta||101||142||x||—||9 9 4|
McPherson 4, Louisburg 3
|Louisburg||010||001||1||—||3 5 3|
|McPherson||000||121||x||—||4 6 3|
W— Hoffman. L— Cannon.