The Seward County Lady Saints Softball team wrapped up its 2nd Jayhawk West Conference Championship Sunday afternoon as they swept their double header against Colby at Lady Saints Field. The wins against Colby come on the tail of their best day of the season, sweeping then 1st place Butler in El Dorado Friday to take over the top spot in the conference.
The Lady Saints busy schedule started Wednesday at home against Barton County. Both pitchers were sharp through the first four frames as only goose eggs filled the scoreboard. However, Barton took the advantage in the 4th inning as Seward mishandled a two out ground ball followed by a two run homerun to find themselves in a 3-0 hole. They battled back in the bottom half of the inning getting a double from Brittany Kent who later scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 3-1. After stranding a pair in the 6th, the Lady Saints were down to their last at-bats in the 7th with their conference title hopes quickly fading away. However, after four consecutive singles and an RBI groundout, the Lady Saints found themselves tied at 3 with their top hitter Marisa Coats at the plate with just one out and the winning run just 60 feet away. Barton decided to intentionally walk Coats but failed to execute the free pass, as they threw the ball away and Jamie Gilbert raced in from third to give the Lady Saints the 4-3 win.
In game two the Lady Saints started off just as they had finished the first game as they jumped all over the Cougars with four two out runs capped off by a 2 RBI double from Shelby Casey and an RBI single from Kent. Barton scored an unearned run in the 2nd after Seward made back to back errors but the Lady Saints would get that run back and more in the 3rd as Casey added another RBI double to her days work and Kent laced a triple to the gap to score her and make the Seward lead 8-1. The teams traded 2 spots in the 4th and 5th innings and Barton added a 7th inning run but was much too little too late as the Lady Saints came away with the 12-6 win despite 4 defensive errors.
The victories against the Cougars set up a marquee matchup between the conference’s top two teams in El Dorado Friday afternoon as the 8-4 Lady Saints traveled eastward to take on the 9-3 Lady Grizzlies of Butler. Butler struck first and scored 3 early runs off Seward ace Courtney Auger and many may have thought this just wasn’t the year for the Lady Saints. However, the nine ladies on the field felt otherwise. Seward quickly erased the 3 run deficit in the 4th inning as Kent cleared the loaded bases with a triple with two outs to tie the game at 3 apiece. The Lady Saints took the lead in the 4th with a sac fly from Coats and would never look back. They piled onto their 4-3 lead in the 6th with 6 runs on 5 hits including home runs from Kent and Alicia Reyes to make the lead 10-3. Seward would tack on one more run in the 7th to make it 11-3 and Auger shut down a late Butler rally to win the game in blowout fashion 11-3 and force a tie atop the conference standings between the two.
Game two Friday was undoubtedly the biggest game of the season for either team with the conference title basically sitting in the balance. Butler again struck first with a pair of 2nd inning 2 out runs of Seward starter Erin Roufosse. The Lady Saints sliced the lead in half in the 5th with a run but quickly gave it back to make the score 3-1 Butler. The score remained there into the 7th when it was found out who wanted the crown the most. Six straight Seward County hitters reached base, culminating in 4 runs, including 2 RBI singles from Alicia Reyes and Coats to put the Lady Saints on top 5-3. After a leadoff double scored to cut the SC advantage to 5-4, the Lady Saints were able to cut down a run at the plate and get a ground out to hang on and win the game 5-4. The win sent the Lady Saints to 10-4 in conference play while it dropped the Griz to 9-5.
With an inside track on the conference title, the Lady Saints took on Colby at home on Sunday. Seward came out energized and scored 6 runs in the first two innings of the game including a pair of RBI’s from Kent and 3 RBI’s from Casey. Seward stretched their lead to 8-1 with a couple of 3rd inning runs and finished the game with a run in the 5th to enforce the run rule at 9-1. Auger started and finished the game for the Lady Saints allowing just one hit for the 6th time this season.
Having clinched at least a share of the conference title, the Lady Saints went into game two with the Lady Trojans ready to claim the spoils all to themselves. Although Colby had relatively nothing to play for in the final game of the regular season, they played the Lady Saints tough in game two, jumping out to a 1-0 advantage after 2 ˝ innings. That run would quickly be answered as Kent blasted a leadoff homerun over the centerfield fence and Seward was able to manufacture another run to take a 2-1 lead. They added onto that lead in the 5th inning with RBI doubles from Reyes and Jill Rodgers as well as a 2 RBI single from Coats to make the lead 6-1. Colby got a pair of runs in the 6th but their push was not enough as Auger came in relief of Cara Russell, who won her 10th game of the season, to pick up the save and secure the 6-3 win.
The wins gave the Lady Saints the conference championship all to themselves as they picked up their 35th win of the season. Seward will now set their sights on the Region VI Tournament in Wichita this weekend where they will first take on the winner of the Barton County/Colby first round matchup after they enjoy their bye. That game will begin at approximately 2:00 at Two Rivers Youth Complex. The winner of that game will then take on the winner of the Garden City/Butler matchup at 6:00 and will be available to listen to online by clicking on the listen live link at http://www.kjccc.org/softball/softindex.html.