Gardner Free State's softball team had no answers for Gardner-Edgerton senior pitcher Abby Cox, and couldn't contain the Trailblazers high-powered offense in a 10-0 run-rule loss on Tuesday in the Class 6A regional semifinals.
The Firebirds (9-12) were kept off-balance by Cox for much of the night, as the Trailblazers right-hander struck out 10 Firebirds in a five-inning perfect game.
"She had two or three pitches, and we didn't make very good adjustments. You're not going to be very successful when the other team is throwing a perfect game at you," coach Lee Ice said. "When we hit the ball, I think we squared it up twice. Mayah (Daniels) had one and I think Grace (Patchen) had the other. When you have 10 strikeouts in five innings, it's pretty tough to score runs."
Daniels got the start in the circle for the Firebirds, and was up to the challenge of matching Cox in the early innings. The Free State senior got out of a two-on, one-out jam by striking out Cox and Mikayla Galvin in the first. Daniels nearly got out of another rough spot unscathed in the second, but the Trailblazers were able to get on the board after scoring a run on a fielder's choice.
The Free State righty struggled to find the strike zone in the third, though, and the Trailblazers were able to capitalize on it by putting up a six-spot. Daniels walked three batters in the third and hit another, before Cassidy Greer belted a grand slam to left to break the game open.
"We're just not good enough to get through innings where we walk three or four people, hit somebody, make an error," Ice said. "We get behind, and it's been that way all season just trying to catch up all of the time. Again, that's a 16-4 team so that's a pretty good team that we got beat by."
With the Firebirds trailing 7-0 after three complete, Ice elected to bring in sophomore pitcher Morgan Leslie to see if she could cool down the Trailblazers' bats.
The early results from Leslie were very encouraging to Ice, as she only needed two pitches to retire the first two hitters she faced.
"That was kind of the intent there when the game was 7-0 was to give the sophomore some experience. She would have started Game Two," Ice said. "She showed them something a little bit different. Her ball moves a little bit different than Mayah's. I was really pleased with the way she competed."
Leslie got another quick out to open the fifth, but the Trailblazers didn't waste much time in loading the bases with back-to-back singles from Malibu McIntire and Mercedes Kelly and a walk from Greer. Gabby Schultz followed by closing out the run-rule victory with a bases-clearing triple.
"You've got to give them credit," Ice said. "Their pitcher did well, and they jumped on us. You just can't make mistakes against good teams, and that's a good team over there."
Gardner-Edgerton moved on to face Olathe North in the regional final, but lost to the Eagles, 7-6, in eight innings.
FSHS 000 00 — 0 0 0
G-E 016 03 — 10 7 0
W — Abby Cox. L — Mayah Daniels.
3B — Gabby Schultz, Cassidy Greer, GE.
HR — Cassidy Greer, GE.