Rural sweeps Indians on senior day

By Grant Guggisberg

With one more doubleheader to make up on Friday, Wednesday’s home doubleheader with Washburn Rural wasn’t quite the last home stand for the Manhattan High softball team.

But the Indians still opted to honor its senior class between games, with the undefeated Junior Blues taking a pair of hard-fought wins in the process.

Rural took game one 9-1 and won the nightcap 5-0.

Manhattan got an up-close view of why Rural is so good, as the Junior Blues no-hit the Indians in game one and gave up only three hits in the second.

“I thought we did a lot of good things, it was just a matter of getting more hits, and when we did have something getting the hit to move them around,” Manhattan coach Scott Mall said. “You never know what difference a run or two can make in a game like this, when it’s 1-0 or 3-0. A little rally can make a huge difference.”

In game one, Rural used a six-run sixth inning to blow open what had been a close game. The Junior Blues had five hits in the inning, highlighted by Jenny Metzger’s two-run home run.

For Manhattan, getting a run in the third off a pair of Rural errors would be the only offense the Indians would see all day. Starter Kelsee Henry and reliever Samantha Carson combined to no-hit Manhattan in a frustrating day at the plate for the Indians.

Mall said he hoped getting the unearned run in the third would jumpstart his hitters.

“It was big at the time,” Mall said. “I hoped we could build off of that, but their pitchers pitched great.

“We were just a little hesitant at the plate, especially in the first game. We didn’t always get good swings.”

Manhattan starter Aubrey Jung pitched well through five innings, but struggled in the sixth. Tyler Hoyt came on in relief to finish out the game, before starting the second game.

In the nightcap, Manhattan broke up any thought of a second no-hit bid in the first inning, getting a leadoff single from Kylie Smith. Smith stole second base, but was held up at second as Henry, who started both games for Rural, struck out the side to end the threat.

Manhattan would get two more hits, — both singles — in the fifth and sixth innings, but didn’t get past first base.

“We got some hits, right away in that first inning,” Mall said. “We had good hitters up there, we just couldn’t quite get that hit.

“You never know, maybe if we score a couple runs right off the bat, maybe that game goes completely different.”

In both games, Henry got the start for Rural and lasted five innings before Carson came on in relief. In the second game, the two pitchers gave no free bases to the Indians, allowing only three baserunners off three singles.

Meanwhile, Hoyt did her best to keep the Rural hitters from doing too much damage, putting up two scoreless frames to start the game.

Though the game did start with a little controversy.

Alyssa Carney seemingly led off the second game with a solo home run over the fence in left-center, but after circling the bases and celebrating with teammates, umpires ruled it a ground-rule double.

Manhattan’s outfielders knocked over the portion of fence the ball landed over in pursuit of the ball, which caused a dead ball.

Hoyt did her best to corral the Junior Blues, but they got three runs in the third with a leadoff double and a two-run home run by Savannah Moore.

Rural got two more runs in the sixth with a leadoff walk followed by a home run by Hannah Weingartner.

“Our girls pitched great — they’re a great hitting ball team, but we moved the ball on them pretty well,” Mall said. “And our defense — especially in the outfield — was outstanding. They hit a lot of balls out there in the outfield and our girls did a good job of running balls down.”

With the twin bill against Rural in the books, Manhattan has four more games to try and cram in today and Friday.

The Indians are scheduled to travel to Highland Park today and host Emporia tomorrow. Currently, Manhattan would earn a five seed in its eight-team pod, which would land the Indians in Washburn Rural’s regional. Manhattan would play No. 4-seed Topeka High, with the winner of that game likely to face top-seeded Rural.

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