In consolation games, it usually helps to be the team that has the time to get over the disappointment of not playing for the big prize.
In the Class 6A softball tournament Friday, that team was Wichita Northwest.
The Grizzlies took home the third-place trophy after dispatching Derby 6-1. Northwest fell in the first semifinal to Washburn Rural 7-1 and had some time before playing for third. Derby had to take the field minutes after a gut-wrenching 2-1 nine-inning loss to eventual champion Olathe East in the other semifinal.
Clearly, Northwest (21-4) benefitted from the break. The Grizzlies, who had a good two hours to cool their heels after falling in the semis, were able to string together five runs on four hits in the third inning, while the Panthers still seemed deflated.
“After the first game we took about five minutes and told ourselves to just let it go,” Northwest shortstop Cassidy Harbert said. “We were kind of disappointed going into the game but as the game is going on and we’re doing well it felt good to get out with a win.”
Derby took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, but Northwest responded with five runs on four hits in the next frame. Kaci Copeland’s two-run triple and Lyndi McIntyre’s RBI-double proved to be the big hits. Harbert’s leadoff homer in the fifth capped the Grizzlies’ scoring.
“It was just a matter of getting some hitting,” Northwest coach Merri Copeland said. “We hadn’t been hitting at all the whole tournament but we got some key hits together and things went well.”
The same couldn’t be said for Derby. The Panthers (14-7) had their chances against Olathe East in the semifinal even though Hawks pitcher Allison Stewart had struck out 17 Panthers. Derby’s Carly Gum and Ashlynn Godown combined to hold Olathe East to three hits. The Panthers had runners on second and third with no outs in the ninth but couldn’t score.
Stewart doubled home Jennifer Brooks for the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth, and the Panthers had little time to regroup for the consolation game.
“It’s tough because nobody wants to play in that game,” Derby coach Christy Weve said. “It’s really tough when you have, what, 15 minutes to get ready after a huge loss like that and prepare yourself for that game. It’s a tough game to have to play.”
|Olathe East||010||220||0||—||5 8 3|
|Wash. Rural||000||111||0||—||3 7 1|
W — Stewart. L — Henry.
Northwest 6, Derby 1
|Derby||010||000||0||—||1 2 1|
|Northwest||005||010||x||—||6 6 2|
W — Henning. L — Godown.
Washburn Rural 7, Northwest 1
|W. Northwest||000||000||1||—||1 4 3|
|Wash. Rural||003||031||x||—||7 6 1|
W — Henry. L — Betzen.
Olathe East 2, Derby 1
|Derby||000||010||000||—||1 7 1|
|Olathe East||000||100||001||—||2 3 1|
W — Stewart. L — Godown.