Bishop Carroll eases into state tournament with regional softball title
With one crack of the bat, Kaylin Watkins sent the Golden Eagles through and put the Bishop Carroll-Maize rivalry on hold for at least a year.
Carroll beat its long-time rival 17-1 in its Kansas Class 5A softball regional championship game Wednesday. Watkins’ three-run home run was a walkoff without the glamor, ending the game in four innings.
“It felt really good to get the game over with,” she said. “Now we can prepare for state, what we didn’t finish last year.”
Carroll started its tournament with a 5-1 win over Andover, and Maize met the Eagles in the title game soon after with an 11-10 walkoff win over Kapaun Mt. Carmel. With only a few minutes between games, the Maize players were visibly exhausted. Carroll coach Steve Harshberger said the warmer weather played a part, and it affected his group, too.
The Golden Eagles just had a little more time to recoup, he said.
“Last Friday night, we were in coats and sitting in the rain,” Harshberger said. “Monday and Tuesday was the only time to get acclimated.”
Harshberger hasn’t missed a state tournament since he started at Carroll six years ago, and with the program’s everlasting prestige, Carroll is closing in on Arkansas City’s Kansas record for most consecutive state appearances at 11. Derby sits at nine straight years in Class 6A after its regional title Tuesday.
Over Carroll’s two games against Maize this year, the Golden Eagles got two wins and outscored the perennial state power 28-6. Wednesday, Carroll cracked the game open in the second inning with eight runs, including a solo home run from freshman Kadence Brewster.
Carroll will enter the state tournament with a 20-2 record. Its only two losses came against fellow 5A state qualifiers: Maize South and Shawnee Heights.
The Golden Eagles are seeking their first state championship since 2015, and Harshberger said the 2019 senior group is special.
“At the start of the year, we weren’t sure we were going to have some leaders, but it wasn’t the talk, talk,” Harshberger said. “It was the play hard type, and they’ve carried us through the year. Four years ago, we put four or five of them in the lineup, so it’s good to see them still contributing.”