LHS softball season ends at regionals
A five-run first inning for the visitors followed by seven innings of pure heart for Lawrence High proved to be the final chapter in the 2018 LHS softball season.
Nicole Riley’s club, seeded eighth via the head-to-head tiebreaker, fell to No. 9 seed Shawnee Mission Northwest, 5-4, on Wednesday afternoon in the Class 6A regional semifinals at Blue Valley West High.
“We’re such a young team and I think that was a part of it,” Riley said after the loss. “When you give up five in the first, that’s hard to come back from.”
The tone was set from the start, when LHS senior Zoë Brewer hit the first batter of the game with a pitch. Brewer, who went the distance, giving up no more runs after that rough first inning, bounced back immediately and struck out Northwest’s second batter of the game. But a couple of hits and an LHS error followed and those little details became a big problem for the Lions.
Riley said it took the Lions a couple of innings to recover from that early onslaught, but once they did, she was proud of the way they battled to the final out.
“I just told them that we were OK and that we just needed to start scoring runs right away,” Riley said of the message after the top of the first. “We’ve been talking a lot in practice lately about winning the inning and we were able to do that three times after the first. We just couldn’t get six runs right out of the gate.”
LHS broke through with three runs in the third to crawl within striking distance and Brewer made sure the Lions (11-10) remained within striking distance the rest of the way.
Karly Johnson (3 RBIs) and Morgan Husman (1 RBI) accounted for the LHS runs and Brewer, Abbey Monroe and Kate Williams added hits for LHS in their comeback attempt.
Williams, a sophomore, came through with a pinch-hit single to lead off the bottom of the seventh, which sparked LHS to plate one more run and leave the bases loaded as the Cougars (12-9) recorded the game’s final out.
“That was big time to step up in that situation,” Riley said of Williams’ leadoff single. “We left a lot of runners on base today and I think part of it was because they were trying so hard.”
If there’s one good thing about being so young, it’s that experiences like the one they had Wednesday can benefit the Lions in the future. That was the theme of the message Riley shared with her team after the loss, but that did not make it any easier to take for senior battery mates Brewer and Husman, who pitched and caught for the Lions for the final time.
Brewer capped her strong senior season by pitching seven innings and giving up three earned runs while striking out four and walking four.
“This one hurts a lot, but we have a bright future,” Riley said. “I just feel so bad for Zoë and Morgan. We really wanted them to have a special end to their senior year. But we had a great season and we were really looking forward to the regional. It just didn’t work out in our favor.”
SM Northwest 5, Lawrence 4
SMNW 500 000 0 — 5 11 1
LHS 003 001 1 — 4 8 2
W – Megan Formwalt; L – Zoë Brewer (10-10); Sv – Jennaka Bultman
LHS Highlights: Karly Johnson 2-for-3, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI ; Zoë Brewer 1-for-2, 2 BB; Abbey Monroe 1-for-2, 2 BB; Kate Williams 1-for-1, run; Morgan Husman 1-for-3, RBI.