Ten days ago, the Andover softball team staggered into the postseason as the lowest seed in its regional.
The Trojans knocked off Heights in the semifinals and then upset top-seeded Salina South, which was 17-3, in the final.
But Andover saved its greatest triumph — for now — for Thursday at the Class 5A tournament at Two Rivers Youth Complex.
Scoring nine runs on 11 hits, the Trojans did the unthinkable and upset previously undefeated and five-time defending state champion Bishop Carroll 9-4.
Andover plays Shawnee Heights on Friday in the semifinals.
The loss snapped the Eagles’ 77-game winning streak.
“It was a complete game, which is what we needed to win,” Andover coach Ernie Hager said. “We’ve got the kinks worked out and we feel good about where we are going.”
Andover (11-12) exploded for five runs in the fifth inning, turning a one-run deficit into a four-run lead.
Junior Lexi Lesperance is not only the Trojans’ top pitcher, but she is also Andover’s top offensive producer.
Against the Eagles, Lesperance went 3 for 4 with six RBIs, including a two-run home run in the sixth to all but end it for the Trojans.
On the mound, Lesperance allowed three earned runs while scattering eight hits and striking out three.
“I crowded the plate, so I knew they were going to throw me inside,” Lesperance said. “I was just waiting on the right pitch.”
The mainstay for Carroll throughout its run of state titles has been pitching, but this season has been different.
The Eagles (22-1) lacked the dominant pitching and it showed in the two innings where Andover scored its seven runs.
“For the first time in 78 games, we got out-pitched and out-hit,” Carroll coach Steve Harshberger said. “Give them all of the credit. They beat us.”
According to Lesperance, the focus over the past two weeks has been focusing more on the team rather than individuals. She attributes the change in attitude to the Trojans’ surge.
“We’re working as a team better than we have all season,” Lesperance said. “We’re leaning on each other rather than pointing fingers.”
St. Thomas Aquinas 11, Goddard 4 – Goddard allowed one hit in the first inning. The problem was, the Lions also allowed four walks and two hit batters.
Aquinas capitalized for four runs. The Saints will play Topeka Seaman, which defeated Valley Center, Friday in the semifinals.
“They really scouted us well,” Goddard coach Rita Smith said. “Our key hitters weren’t getting any pitches to hit.”
The Lions’ starter, Julisa Ortega, could not locate many of her pitches in the first inning. She left with a 2-0 count to Aquinas’ No. 9 hitter.
Goddard scored three runs in the fourth, but Aquinas answered with two in the fifth to put the game away.
“We have had to fight back to wins game this season,” Smith said. “We just gave up too many free passes to do that tonight.”
Topeka Seaman 5, Valley Center 1 – Hornets pitcher Kaylee Burnett’s only blemishes were back-to-back bases-loaded walks in the second inning and a solo home run by Lauren Mills in the third.
|Andover||101||052||0||—||9 11 3|
|Carroll||101||100||1||—||4 8 0|
W – Lesperance. L – Watkins. HR – Carroll, Watkins; Andover, Lesperance.
|Aquinas||410||020||4||—||11 14 1|
|Goddard||000||301||0||—||4 5 2|
W – Zuniga. L – Ortega.
|Valley Ctr||000||000||1||—||1 4 2|
|T. Seaman||021||101||x||—||5 7 3|
W – Reed. L – Burnett. HR – Seaman, Mills.