Bishop Carroll’s tree-time All-Metro selection hit the second batter she faced in the head and gave up two runs in the top of the first inning.
Yet the Golden Eagles are going to their second straight state championship game after a 6-3 win over Goddard in the Class 5A state softball semifinals. Senior Kaylin Watkins found her groove, and the Carroll bats had the answers.
In the bottom of the first, Carroll poured on five runs to take a 5-2 lead. The game could have ended there. Watkins allowed only one more run, and Carroll added another for insurance in the bottom of the fourth.
With the win, Carroll set up a rematch of last year’s state championship game and of this year’s biggest doubleheader maybe in all of Kansas high school softball. The Golden Eagles will look for redemption against No. 1 seed Shawnee Heights to win their first state championship since 2015.
The 2018 title game was not competitive. Carroll was pushed around, suffering an 11-0 loss that has inspired the group throughout the 2019 season.
Carroll coach Steve Harshberger said when he got the group together for the first time this season, he asked what went wrong against Heights. The players said it was all in the mindset. They believe that has changed this year.
On May 3, the state powers met for the second time in 12 months for a regular-season doubleheader. Carroll won the first game 5-3 and lost the second 10-1, setting up the rubber match.