For seven innings against Derby freshman pitcher Shaina Brock, Olathe North couldn't muster a hit Friday in the Kansas Class 6A state quarterfinals.
When the Eagles finally did, the cover came off the ball. Literally.
With one out in the top of the eighth, O-North senior first baseman Nicole Rooney parked the game-winning hit, a grand slam over the left-field fence that gave the Eagles a 4-0 victory.
The blast was a pleasant surprise, but the biggest shock came when Rooney's mother gave her the home run ball after the game and the seams were busted open.
"That's a little odd," Rooney said. "I've never seen that happen before."
The sixth-seeded Eagles' thrilling win against the third-seeded Panthers capped a wild night at the Clinton Lake Softball Complex and propelled Olathe North into today's semifinals against Wichita Northwest, a 1-0 winner earlier in the day against Olathe South.
Olathe North 4, Derby 0
Olathe North 000 000 04 -- 4 4 0
Derby 000 000 00 -- 0 3 2
W--Mackenzi Magenheimer. L--Shaina Brock.
No. 1 Olathe East 6, No. 8 Topeka 0
Topeka's first-ever trip to the state tournament was short-lived thanks to a two-hit shutout from Olathe East junior pitcher Alex Hupp that more than made up for the Hawks' sluggish bats.
Olathe East recorded just six hits, but two key fielding errors by the Trojans helped spark a three-run third inning and a two-run sixth. Hawks' all-state junior third baseman Val Chapple, who entered the game hitting .636, went two-for-four with a triple and two RBIs.
The Hawks will need Hupp's dominance in the semifinals, but coach Jeff Hulse isn't worried -- Hupp has started all 23 games for Olathe East this season.
"She's done it all year," Hulse said. "She's a strong-willed kid, strong athletically, and she knows she's going to have the ball in both games. I couldn't think of anybody better to have out there."
Olathe East 6, Topeka High 0
Topeka 000 000 0 -- 0 2 2
Olathe East 103 002 X -- 6 6 0
W--Alex Hupp. L--Kathleen Jolly.
No. 2 Wichita Northwest 1, No. 7 Olathe South 0
Sophomore pitcher Lauren Coleman and junior Katie Arens combined to throw seven shutout innings, helping the Grizzlies hold off the Falcons.
Northwest got its only offense in the bottom of the fifth inning when freshman outfielder Amy Martinez doubled to drive in the game's only run.
The loss wasted an effort from Olathe South senior pitcher Megan Grisell, who gave up just one run and two hits in six innings.
Wichita Northwest 1, Olathe South 0
Olathe South 000 000 0 -- 0 6 2
Northwest 000 010 0 -- 1 2 3
W--Katie Arens. L--Megan Grisell.
No. 4 Maize 6, No. 5 Emporia 5
Emporia was left for dead, trailing 5-0 after four innings and mustering just two hits against Maize senior pitcher Madison Petrich.
With two runners on in the fifth, Maize coach Teri Larson pulled Petrich in favor of junior Rachel Kramer. Kramer allowed a walk and two hits, resulting in three Emporia runs.
In the top of the seventh, trailing 6-4, Emporia had runners on first and second with one out. With Petrich again pitching, sophomore first baseman Danielle Saylor-Perkins hit a line drive into the left-center field gap, and Maize senior center fielder Angela Jakubov made the catch on the run, then threw to second for the game-ending double play.
"We won a little differently," Larson said. "We're a team that really has relied on defense and pitching to get this far, and our offense came today and was working well."
Maize 6, Emporia 5
Emporia 000 031 1 -- 5 11 2
Maize 014 001 X -- 6 8 2
W--Madison Petrich. L--Jenna Potter. S--Petrich.