LHS softball rolls to mercy-rule win over SM South; Free State softball falls in home opener

photo by: Conner Becker

Lawrence High freshman starter Sophie Rowley throws a pitch during a 13-3 win over Shawnee Mission South on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at Lawrence High School.

Lawrence High softball never stepped off the gas in a 13-3 home win over Shawnee Mission South on Thursday, with the Lions holding their foes scoreless until the fourth inning and piling on insurance late in the game.

Freshman starter Sophie Rowley led the Lions (2-2) to a hot start, allowing just one hit through her first three innings on the hill. Rowley, who was replaced by junior Taylor Zeckser in the fourth, finished with two runs allowed on three hits, three walks and four strikeouts through 3.2 innings. Zeckser allowed just one run on two hits.

LHS coach Michael Byrn had nothing but kind words for his two pitchers after the win.

“Sophie’s been a very pleasant surprise,” Byrn said. “She threw so well in Manhattan, she earned that right to be the gameday starter from day one. Taylor’s been great pitching and playing first. And then Maelee (Folks), as she recovers from COVID-19, will get more time on the bump. We’re in great shape.”

Rowley struck out two Raiders in the first and paved the way for LHS to grab a two-run lead in the bottom of the first. An RBI single by LHS sophomore Harper Dye brought home both runs, and she stole her way to third before SM South starter Kate Colwell’s third consecutive strikeout cut Dye’s rhythm short.

LHS tacked on two more runs in the second behind back-to-back RBI triples by seniors Emme Dye and Hailey Ramirez. Colwell kept Ramirez, from moving any further, but the Raiders were still staring down a four-run deficit entering the third, and an RBI by LHS junior Charlee Burghart padded the score to 5-0 entering the fourth.

SM South’s Angel Schuerman led off the fourth with a triple and scored the Raiders’ first run of the game on a passed ball. Loading the bases with two outs, SM South tacked on another run before Byrn switched out Rowley for Zeckser, who saved the inning.

Harper Dye brought in two runs in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI triple, crossing home plate on an RBI single by Folks to push LHS further ahead, 8-3, entering the fifth.

Schuerman homered off Zeckser in the fifth, but LHS was still sitting on a five-run lead, and the Lions weren’t done yet. They got some major insurance with a two-run homer by Emme Dye in the bottom of the sixth, which prompted SM South to call in closer Elyssa Sherwood, and they kept piling on, racking up three more runs in the sixth to end the game by mercy rule.

“We’re growing as a team,” Byrn said. “We’re much stronger. When you win, it’s because they kids played well. It’s not because we did a great job as coaches; it’s because the kids performed. I really think the kids feed off each other.”


Shawnee Mission South 000 210 X – 3 5 1

Lawrence High 221 305 X – 13 14 0

W – Rowley; L – Colwell; Save – Zeckser.

Highlights for LHS: E. Dye 3-for4, HR, 2 RBIs; H. Dye 2-for-4, 4 RBIs, 3B; Burghart 2-for-4, 2 RBIs; Ramirez 3-for-3, 3B, RBI; S. Rowley 3.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 K; Zeckser 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R.

Free State drops home opener against SM North

The Free State softball team made a late stand in its home opener on Thursday with a two-run spark in the fifth inning, but the Firebirds still came up short, 6-2, against Shawnee Mission North.

SM North opened the game by scoring in the first and second innings, challenging the Firebirds (1-1) to answer at the plate. Bison starter Kelsey Hoekstra showed command on the hill, allowing two runs on six hits and picking up 11 strikeouts.

Even on a slow batting day, Free State coach Charley Bowen said his group stayed motivated through all seven innings.

“They’re still cheering each other on and congratulating one another,” Bowen said. “We just came out flat tonight. I don’t know if we had a big win on Tuesday and they come out flat, but we just couldn’t get into some kind of rhythm. You’ve got to tip the cap to SM North; they’ve got a great pitcher on the mound.”

Free State junior starter Grace Rothwell gave up five runs on 10 hits, striking out five SM North batters before handing the job to junior reliever Elsa Carrillo entering the fifth. Carrillo slowed down the Bison, allowing just one run on two hits, and finished with seven strikeouts.

Shawnee Mission North 130 101 0 – 6 12 1

Free State 000 020 0 – 2 6 2

W – Hoekstra; L – Rothwell.

Highlights for Free State: Hill 2-for-3, 1 R; Richardson 1-for-3, 1 R, Rothwell 1-for-3, 2B, 4.0 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 5 K; Carrillo 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K.


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