SALINA, Kan.—In the sporting world, no matter what sport is being discussed, defense usually wins championships.
Well, a championship wasn’t on the line yet Friday at the Class 4A softball state tournament, but defense definitely ruled the day as the eight teams only combined for 13 runs in the four games played.
A pair of undefeated teams, two of the top three seeded teams, suffered their first losses of the season as the lower seeded teams won three of the four games as Wamego and Pratt suffered their first losses of the season while Labette County, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, won its 24th game of the season against no losses.
Labette County beat Mulvane 4-1, Basehor-Linwood defeated Wamego 1-0, Andover-Garden Plain beat Paola 2-0 and DeSoto defeated Pratt 4-1.
Labette County (24-0) will play Andale-Garden Plain (23-1) in one semifinal Saturday at 10 a.m. while Basehor-Linwood (22-2) will face off against DeSoto (22-2) in the other semifinal contest. The state championship game between the two winners is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Salina’s Bill Burke Sports Complex while the losers from each semifinal will play at noon for consolation prizes.
"It was a pitcher’s duel and we had to scratch and claw and get a run across," Basehor-Linwood coach Susan Mayberry said. "We were able to put the ball in play and we started off having runners all over the place and it was just a matter of getting the ball in the infield with less than two outs and we did that."
The Bobcats and Wamego was the closest game that almost went to extra innings before Basehor-Linwood scratched out a single run with one out in the top of the 7th inning. Basehor-Linwood then, once again, held Wamego scoreless in the bottom of the 7th to hand Wamego its first and only loss of the season.
The other close game was the Andal-Garden Plain vs. Paola contest. In that one the two teams went hitless for the first few innings and scoreless into the top of the sixth inning.
In the top of the sixth, with two outs the Lady Indians’ Sydnee Eck clubbed a solo home run over the centerfield fence for the game’s first run. Andale added an insurance run in the top of the seventh and Eck was able to shut out Paola for the final two innings and propel Andale-Garden Plain into Saturdaay’s semifinal contest.
"Sydnee threw a great game and Allie (Allison Heimerman) called a great game," Andale-Garden Plain coach Doris Heim said. "We strung a few hits together when we needed them and the kids came through when we needed them."
The other two games, comparatively, were offensive shoot outs as Labette County scored a single run in the first inning, two more in the bottom of the third and after Mulvane scored a single run in the top of the fifth to win 4-1.
"We got No. 24," Labette County coach Lori Green said. "Our goal all year is to take one game at a time and tonight was 24 and tomorrow morning we are going to focus on 25. The thing with this team all year is we have played relaxed and focused."
Pratt scored a single run in the bottom of the second against DeSoto for an early 1-0 lead but DeSoto came right back with two runs in the top of the third to take a lead it did not relinquish.
The Lady Wildcats added two more runs in the top of the fifth and held on to shut out the Lady Greenbacks for the final five innings to give Pratt its first loss of the season and propel DeSoto into today’s semifinal game against Basehor-Linwood.
"We came out and just executed," DeSoto coach Junelle Woolery said. "The pitcher, the defense, they did what we told them to do. They made sound defensive plays and they hit the ball. It was just an all around good team effort."