Over the past three seasons “dominant” may come to mind when describing the Andale-Garden Plain softball program. The Indians took home the 5A title in 2010 and the 4A championship in 2011…on Saturday in Salina they looked to make 2012 another banner year in 4A play.
It all started Friday night for Andale-Garden Plain as the faced off against Paola, on the mound for the Indians was arguably the best softball pitcher in the state, that being Sydnee Eck. The senior pitcher put them away one by one racking up 18 strikeouts as her squad moved on to semi-final action with a 2-0 win.
Saturday morning Eck was back on the mound and this time she needed the support of her offense. Trailing 1-0 to top seeded Labette County the Indians offense came to the rescue at a critical time. Andale racked up four runs on a two out rally in the bottom of the 6th inning which propelled them to a 5-2 win over Labette County and a spot in Saturday’s title game against DeSoto.
Six seniors on the Andale squad knew the 4A championship game would be the last time they suited up and laced up for their high school squad…they wanted to finish it in fitting fashion.
Despite Eck battling an arm injury she stood tall on the mound only allowing one run against DeSoto in seven innings of work. A couple of doubles from Erin Tice and Bailey Venjohn helped the Indians gain a 3-1 lead heading into the final inning.
Eck took the mound needing only three more outs…she said she felt comfortable knowing her teammates had her back.
“Throw the ball the way I know I can and my defense will be there for me”, added Eck.
A slow ground ball off a DeSoto bat and throw to first sealed the three-peat for Andale-Garden Plain as the Indians captured the 4A title once again by a score of 3-1.
“To go out like that with all of my teammates makes me know that I am going to miss it next year”, added an emotional Eck after the victory.
“It’s tough to do it three times in a row, they just came through”, added Andale head coach Doris Hein.
Not only did Saturday’s title victory represent the last game for the six seniors on the squad it also marked Hein’s last game as head coach. Going out with three consecutive state titles to your name is not a bad way to exit.
“It’s a great way to go out, what can I say”, added Hein.
Eck commented that this 2012 squad was playing for Hein to go out on top.
“Came out and ended just the way we wanted”, said Eck.
Following the title game Hein said that Sydnee Eck is one of the greatest softball players in the history of Kansas. Eck has said that she does not plan on playing softball in college…however after Saturday’s win she changed her tune ever so slightly.
“It makes me want to play”, said Eck.
The senior also added she is comfortable passing along the winning tradition of the Andale-Garden Plain softball program to the underclassmen who will eventually take hold of this team.