Skyhawks finally nail down first place
With three straight one-run losses in the championship games of tournaments, the 18-and-under Sunflower Skyhawks were able to get the key hits that they had missed in previous tournaments, and brought home a USSSA State Championship from Emporia this weekend.
The Skyhawks finished the weekend with a 4-1 record and qualified for the USSSA World Series in Hutchinson Aug. 1-6.
"We have been playing well for the last several weeks, but seem to have fallen short of the gold," said coach Bob Martin. "We were pretty determined to close it out in the championship game."
Similar to the three previous championship games, the Skyhawks were involved in a one-run nail-biter. They faced the Topeka Diamonds, a team who they beat 5-1 earlier in pool play, but the Diamonds came to play in the championship game.
Topeka took an early lead with a run in the first and the Skyhawks matched the run in the bottom of the second when Tarin Troth grounded out to score Deanna Barden.
In the third inning, lead off singles by Suzie Weege and Katie Martin started a rally by the Skyhawks. Jill Dorsey moved both runners over with a sacrifice bunt and both runners scored on a single by Kristin Wessel.
In the sixth inning, the Diamonds loaded the bases and scored a run but it was not enough and the Skyhawks held onto the 3-2 victory for the USSSA Kansas State Championship. Satinne Maring had another clutch pitching performance, giving up two unearned runs and striking out nine.
"Our pitching and defense were again outstanding, but this week we got key hits at the right time and that was the difference," said Martin. "Wessel's two-run single was one of several key hits by players in the tournament."
The road to the championship for the Skyhawks began with pool play. The first game was a 4-0 win over the Hutch Clubbers. Mary Martin led the way offensively for the Hawks with three hits and three runs batted in. Lindsay Roecker pitched a complete game shutout and picked up the win.
Game two of pool play was a preview to the championship game as the Skyhawks faced the Diamonds. In the first inning the Skyhawk offense opened up with three runs. Maring scored K. Martin with a with a two-out single and Barden kept the inning alive with a double that scored Wessel and Maring. The fourth inning was the other inning in which the Skyhawks crossed home. Kathy Patton and Roecker had RBI singles, and the five runs were good enough for a 5-1 victory over the Diamonds. Maring picked up the complete game win and Barden and Patton each had two hits.
In he third game of pool play against the Topeka Illusion, the Skyhawks picked up their first loss of the tournament. The Hawks had runners in scoring position in four of the seven innings, but were unable to convert. In the sixth, K. Martin led of with a triple but that is where she stayed the rest of the inning, as her teammates failed to hit her in. Maring allowed one run through the seven innings, but that is all the Illusion needed as they shutout the Skyhawks.
In the last game of pool play a win would put the Skyhawks in the championship game of the tournament. Timely hitting helped the Hawks reach the final with a 4-3 win over the Wichita Mirage.
The game was tied at two until the sixth inning when K. Martin walked, advanced on a sacrifice and scored on a single by Wessel. Barden then scored Wessel with a two-out single. The run proved to be the winning run as the Mirage scored one in their half of the sixth but left the bases loaded, and the Skyhawks prevailed by one run. K. Martin reached base four times and scored two runs in the game, while Roecker pitched tough, giving up one earned run in the complete game victory.
"It seemed like every player on the team came up with an outstanding play in the tournament, but the outfielders really shined," said Martin. "Tarin Troth, Kathy Patton and Katie Martin all made game-saving catches during the tournament."
K. Martin and Barden helped carry the team offensively, as they batted at least .500 in the tournament. The pitching tandem of Maring and Roecker allowed three earned runs in 35 innings. Maring had 20 strikeouts and each pitcher won two games.
The Skyhawks are competing in two different softball organizations this summer and they will go for their second state championship this weekend in the ASA State Tournament, hosted by Iola.