Free State softball pushes past Lawrence High for 15-2 win in rivalry matchup
photo by: Chance Parker
Free State’s softball team overpowered Lawrence High in a 15-2 rivalry win Tuesday night at LHS.
The Firebirds collected 19 hits, which included three home runs to go along with another five extra-base hits, on their way to a convincing win in the latest installment of the City Showdown. It was the first such matchup between the two teams since 2019 after the 2020 campaign was ultimately canceled.
Free State improved to 13-1 on the year, including 11-0 in Sunflower League action. Lawrence moved to 2-11 overall, with a 2-7 clip against league opponents.
“It is hard to say it is just another game because it is really not,” FSHS head coach Lee Ice said. “It is something that sticks with them. There is some pride in this game on both sides.”
There was especially pride among the seniors, and one particular senior shined the brightest. Free State senior shortstop Sara Roszak clobbered a pair of home runs and eight RBIs.
Roszak’s first blast came in the top of the second during a five-run outburst that really got the Firebirds going. Roszak got around on a 2-1 pitch to send a line drive over the left-field fence for a grand slam, her second of the season.
After rounding the bases, Roszak hugged Tatum Clopton and Jasmine Brixius in celebration at home plate. She received a high five from Georgia Rea before being teased in the dugout that the ball really just cleared the fence.
“Everyone said, ‘Sara, you better do some more pushups because that one was barely over,’ said Roszak, who is signed to play softball for the University of Kansas next year.
She more than made up for it on her second homer of the game.
During a seven-run showing in the fourth, Roszak delivered a two-run blast to score herself and Rea. She launched a 2-2 pitch clear over the fence in left center for a no-doubt homer. It marked her ninth home run of the season.
“It felt good,” Roszak said. “I’ve definitely set a lot of goals for myself this year, especially with having last year taken away from us. I felt a lot when I was up to bat. I was like, ‘I have a job to do and I have to get it done.'”
Roszak was one of the many local players to deliver memorable moments on Tuesday, however.
Clopton, a senior pitcher signed to Oklahoma State, crushed a solo homer to lead off a fourth inning that Free State batted all the way through the lineup. Clopton also struck out eight of the nine batters she faced through three innings before handing the ball to Kay Lee Richardson over the final two frames.
Lawrence’s Hailey Ramirez tracked down a pair of fly balls in centerfield, one of which was actually a hard-hit ball by Roszak to end the third inning.
“She covers a lot of ground out there,” LHS head coach Steve Serrate said. “Those really make a big difference because they were beating the ball all over the place. A couple of those get down, that’s even worse.”
The Firebirds played from in front the whole way, despite coming out a bit flat by their own lofty standards. FSHS scored three runs in the top of the first, thanks to a two-run double from Roszak and a RBI triple via sophomore Leah Mueller.
FSHS added five runs in the second, sparked by Roszak’s grand slam and a RBI double from Mueller.
“Once we got the sticks going, especially in that second inning, I think we kind of came together,” Roszak said. “We were here, ready to play and ready to take care of some business.”
Free State grabbed a 15-0 lead in the fourth after scoring seven runs in a single inning. Senior Robin Todd came through with a base-clearing hit to left. Freshman Kinsey Clopton delivered a RBI base knock, while Brixius drove in a run on a groundout.
The Firebirds emptied their bench after that, though the Lions made sure to get on the scoreboard before things went final.
Ramirez started off the fourth inning with a leadoff single for Lawrence’s first hit of the night. Senior Sydney Delfelder followed suit with a hard-hit single up the middle. After Ramirez scored the first run on a wild pitch with some savvy base running, sophomore Maelee Folks later drove in another run on a base knock.
Freshman Taylor Zeckser came through with a one-out single in the fifth before the game was eventually called due to the run rule. LHS recorded all four of its hits against Richardson over the final two frames.
“After our first go around (through the lineup), I think we were all more hungry to hit the ball,” Delfelder said. “All of us were hungry to at least get one run on the board, and make it not a shutout.”
Despite the final score, it was an important game for all those involved after not getting the opportunity to have this crosstown clash last spring. Delfelder, who is signed to play softball for Baker, was the lone senior for LHS.
Free State’s senior class of Rea, Roszak, Todd, Tatum Clopton, Samantha Bradbury and Anna McIntire were also recognized before the game.
“It was just a big deal after not getting to play last year,” Delfelder said. “I think it meant a lot more just because we know these girls personally. They do have such a good record that we wanted to get some runs on the board, and make it look like we worked hard.”
Both teams will square off once more in the regular season on May 13 at FSHS. Before that, the two squads will be back in action on Thursday. Lawrence will host Shawnee Mission East. while Free State will host Olathe North.
Both games will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Free State 15, Lawrence 2
FSHS 3 5 0 7 0 X X — 15 19 1
LHS 0 0 0 2 0 X X — 2 4 1