Normally, when the softball teams at Free State High and Lawrence High take the field, it’s for a doubleheader.
Play the first game. Take a quick break. Get right back at it.
That won’t be the case for this season’s second installment of the city showdown between the rivals.
By the time the first pitch crosses home plate at 5:15 p.m. tonight at LHS, it will have been 16 days since the Firebirds beat the Lions, 8-1, on April 21.
As far as FSHS coach Lee Ice is concerned, everything that happened then — Courtney Parker’s two-run blast, productive days at the plate from A’Liyah Rogers and Remington Samuels, seven innings of solid pitching from Meredith Morris — will have no bearing on the rematch.
“I think the first game, you just kind of throw out the window,” Ice said.
The Lions would probably be OK with that, too, considering Marly Carmona, Lauren Byrn and Kristen Gile were the only LHS players to register hits in the seven-run loss.
LHS coach Nick Wood said the Firebirds (10-7) played well in the first match-up, and it wasn’t as if Lawrence (5-14) shot itself in the foot.
“Now our girls have been through that experience once. They’re gonna come out ready to go and adjust at the plate, continue to play strong defensively, and we’ll be OK,” Wood said.
“We just have to find a way to have a heck of a lot more base-runners than we did last time.”
Byrn said LHS has a chance to win the rematch, and she doesn’t mind the absence of a doubleheader for the city showdown games.
“You know you only have one game, and you give it your all, no matter what,” Byrn said. “You don’t have to worry about playing a second game.”
Plus, Carmona said, Lawrence batters could have an edge, having already faced Morris.
“I think our hitting has definitely gotten better,” Carmona said, “and we’re prepared to go out there and play our hardest.”
Freshman Megan Sumonja, who didn’t pitch in the first game, is slated to start for LHS tonight.
According to Parker, the Firebirds expect Lawrence to come back stronger for Game 2.
“It’s going to be exciting, but we’re going to come in focused and ready to play,” Parker said. “We want to get another win.”
FSHS shortstop Samantha O’Brien said her team is confident and looking forward to the rematch.
“I think everybody’s pretty pumped up right now,” O’Brien said.
Like any other Sunflower League game, Ice said beating Lawrence won’t be easy.
“It’ll be a good game. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of emotions and a lot of excitement toward the game,” Ice said. “But we’re looking at it as another game — one of the three that we have left that we’ve just got to take care of business.”
— A previous version of this story has been updated to include the new start time.