In the end, Bishop Carroll was unable to stop the Shawnee Heights train this time around.
The Shawnee Heights softball team claimed their third-straight state championship by defeating Bishop Carroll 12-1 in the Kansas Class 5A final on Saturday at Maize High School.
The championship was a rematch of the 2018 state championship game between the two schools. Although the Thunderbirds beat the Golden Eagles that game also, Bishop Carroll was the only team to defeat Heights during the 2019 regular season, ending their undefeated streak.
“Carroll ending our unbeaten streak. threw us off at first; the girls really took it to heart,” Shawnee Heights coach Tara Griffith said. “Then that helped us re-focus for the rest of the season.”
Bishop Carroll finished 22-3 on the season, while Shawnee Heights ended up 22-1.
The Thunderbirds knew they had a target on their back with their back-to-back state championships, and they were fully prepared for the Golden Eagles to be hungry to break another one of their streaks.
“Carroll was coming out hungry this year,” Shawnee Heights junior Aniya Holt said. “We knew that was everybody’s goal just to beat our streak. They wanted it and they showed it.”
Eager to snap another one of Heights’ streaks, Carroll was able to keep the game tight early on with their pitching, keeping the game tied at 0-0 through the first two innings.
In the bottom of the third inning with two Thunderbirds on base, Holt hit a home run, putting Heights up three.
“My mentality every at-bat is to keep it simple. I’m not trying to hit home runs, I’m just trying to be productive for my teammates,” Holt said. “That role comes with a lot of trust, and I feel fully trusted by my teammates, so it helps a lot.”
Three RBIs and a home run by senior Sydney Wellshear brought the Thunderbirds up 7-0 by the end of the fifth.
Carroll managed to get one run in the top of the sixth with an RBI from sophomore Emma Green.
The Thunderbirds were able to polish off the game with five runs in the sixth, ending with a home run from senior Shy’Anna Tyler.
“I was really excited to end the game with a home run,” Tyler said. “It’s my senior year and my last time ever playing softball, so I was really happy to go out with a bang … it was the highlight of my career.”
Securing their third state title in a row solidified the Thunderbird’s team-first mentality and the importance of their team bonding on and off the field.
“We were trying to do something that not many people can say they have done, it’s a really big accomplishment for us all,” Holt said. “A lot of people ask ‘how do you do it? ’… we just come together as a team and work hard in practice and even outside of practice we work out on our own. It comes with a lot of responsibility and being there for your team.”