Bishop Carroll softball coach Angie Dal Pozzo sensed her team might be feeling the pressure of being two-time defending champions and the No. 1 seed in the Class 5A tournament.
The Eagles’ 1-0 quarterfinal victory over Bishop Miege on Thursday at Two Rivers Youth Complex certainly produced plenty of tension.
“I think they’re pushing a little bit more than they should be,” said Dal Pozzo, whose team improved to 21-2 behind Morgan Balderas’ fifth-inning home run. “There’s definitely a little bit of that.”
Still, Carroll advanced to Friday’s semifinals and will face Maize South, a 3-2 winner over Topeka Seaman. Carroll and Maize South split a doubleheader during the regular season.
Balderas provided all the run support sophomore pitcher Jessi Haffner needed with an opposite-field shot, her sixth of the season. But Miege pitcher Leah Quick, who led the Stags to a 1-0 victory over perennial power St. Thomas Aquinas in last week’s regional final, frustrated the Eagles throughout much of the game.
“I’m pretty used to games like this,” said Quick, a senior. “(Balderas) just hit a good outside pitch. She hit it up in the wind, and the wind took it.”
The home run for Balderas, Carroll’s leadoff hitter, was one of five the Eagles had in the game.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” Balderas said. “It was close from the start. We just couldn’t hit early, but we had great defense from everybody.”
Haffner didn’t allow a hit, but worked out of tight jams in the first and seventh innings. Miege (10-11) stranded runners on second and third in the top of the first, then left Kaitlyn Pearson at third after she led off the top of the seventh by reaching on a three-base error.
“To be able to hold them, I’m not going to lie, it hurt my heart a little bit,” Dal Pozzo said. “It was a little more excitement than I wanted.”
Maize South 3, Topeka Seaman 2 – Maize South pitcher Kelsey Sterneker kept Seaman scoreless until the fifth, then worked her way through the heart of the Vikings’ order to prevent them from tying the score.
“Kelsey did a really good job against us,” Seaman coach Jay Monhollon said. “She worked inside and out, up and down in the zone, and really challenged us.”
The Mavericks took the lead in the first with the aid of two Seaman errors. Jody Larson made it 2-0 in the third with an RBI single, and Taylor Mannis scored Maize South’s final run in the fifth after leading off with a triple.
“I thought we hit really smart,” Maize South coach Teri Larson said. “We put the ball in play, and they had more (strikeouts) than we did. I think that was the name of the game.”
Seaman got the tying run to second in the seventh, but Sternerker struck out Seaman’s Carly Smercheck to end the game.
Goddard 4, Shawnee Heights 3 — Shawnee Heights, the No. 7 seed, overcame a 3-1 deficit to tie Goddard in the top of the sixth. But Goddard (18-3) won it in the ninth when Morgan Bohanan lined a single to left that scored Miranda Rohleder with the game-winning run.
“It was a good game,” said Shawnee Heights coach Steve Giddens, whose team finished 14-7. “I knew it was going to be tough in the ninth when they had their top three coming up. When their leadoff batter got on, it put us in a hole right away.”
The T-Birds struggled with Rohleder, a freshman shortstop. She doubled in her first two at-bats, then opened the bottom of the ninth with a hard-hit single that got past Shawnee Heights second baseman McKenzie Brunner.
After Goddard’s Brianna Fuchs reached on well-placed bunt between the pitcher’s mound and third, Bohanon lined Rachel Anstaett’s first pitch into the outfield and Rohleder scored before the relay throw could be made.
“We’ve been battling in close games all season,” Goddard coach Rita Smith said. “I felt pretty good with Morgan up. We definitely weren’t bunting in that situation.”
Mill Valley 5, Andover Central 1 — Mill Valley bucked the trend of close games with a five-run first inning.
After waiting for Goddard’s marathon victory to take the field, Mill Valley used four hits and an Andover Central error to put together all the offense it needed. Lexie Myers’ doubled home a run, and her sister, Lacie, tripled to drive in two against Andover Central pitcher Lacey Bolen.
“When we were up to bat, we were just thinking attack,” said Lexie Myers, who pitched a complete game for Mill Valley. “We wanted to make sure we got ahead and then work from there.”
Brenna Ramirez capped Mill Valley’s early flurry with an RBI single. Myers yielded six hits, but Andover Central only scored once in the third inning when Meg Huelskamp tripled and came home on a wild pitch.
“We practiced loose all week,” Andover Central coach Rita Frakes said. “I thought getting up to bat first would be a good way for us to score a few runs and get behind Lacey. … We got three quick outs and it just kind of snowballed on us.”
Carroll 1, Miege 0
|Miege||000||000||0||—||0 0 0|
|Carroll||000||010||x||—||1 5 1|
W—Haffner. L—Quick. HR—Carroll: Balderas.
M. South 3, T. Seaman 2
|T. Seaman||000||010||1||—||2 4 5|
|M. South||101||010||0||—||3 4 2|
W—Sterneker. L—Reed. HR—Seaman: Constant.
Goddard 4, S. Heights 3
|Shawnee Hts||000||120||000||—||3 7 5|
|Goddard||101||010||001||—||4 7 2|
Mill Valley 5, A. Central 1
|A. Central||001||000||0||—||1 6 2|
|Mill Valley||500||000||x||—||5 7 1|
W—Lexie Myers. L—Bolen.