Rural tops MHS to end softball season

By The Mercury

The Manhattan High softball team took a hard-fought eight-inning 9-8 victory over Topeka High in their opening regional game, but couldn’t keep up the pace in the championship game against Washburn Rural, losing 10-0.

With the loss, the Indians season comes to an end.

MHS jumped right out on top against Topeka High when it scored five runs in the first inning. Kylie Smith led off with a single, then consecutive infield singles by Kori Bridegam and Jenna Stigge loaded the bases.

Tyler Hoyt then singled to score Smith and Bridegam. Aubrey Jung’s hard-hit ball was misplayed by the shortstop, allowing Stigge to score. Allie Massanet then singled to drive in two more runs.

The fourth-seed Trojans got on the board in their half of the first with a solo home run and a double, followed by an Indians error to cut into the MHS lead, 5-2.

The Indians added to their lead in the third when Hoyt opened with a double down the left-field line. She came around to score when a throw got away from the first baseman.

Manhattan scored again in the fourth to make it 7-2 when Savannah Thaemert led off with an infield single, then scored on a two-out single by Stigge.

Topeka closed the gap in its half of the fourth during a tough fielding inning for the Manhattan defense. Three infield grounders were misplayed and were sandwiched around a single to plate three Trojan runs.

The Indians came right back with another run in the fifth when Massanet doubled to the fence with one out and Madi Fief singled to drive in Claussen to make the score 8-5.

The three-run lead didn’t hold up, though, as the Trojans scored three in the sixth to tie the game for the first time. Topeka got a pair of singles and a two-run homer to even the score.

Manhattan threatened in the seventh, with runners at first and third with one out, but a double play ended that opportunity.

The Indians then scored the eventual winning run in the top of the eighth. With two outs, Bridegam reached on an error and Stigge was hit by the pitch to put the lead run on second. Hoyt then drove in her third run of the day with a single to take the lead.

Topeka threatened in the bottom of the eighth, however. Consecutive singles and an intentional walk loaded the bases with no outs. The Trojans then hit a short line drive in the infield that Stigge caught in the air before running to second for the unassisted double play. MHSs got the final out it needed with a groundout to Stigge that put the Indians in the regional final against Rural.

Hoyt led the offense with three hits and three RBIs and picked up the win in relief, as she pitched the last 2 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out one. Stigge and Massanet each added two hits, with Massanet driving in two. Aubrey Jung pitched the first 5 2/3 innings, scattering 12 hits while striking out seven.

That moved the Indians into the championship game against top-seeded Washburn Rural, which came in as the league champions and the only undefeated team remaining in Class 6A.

The Indians ran into a hot pitcher, Samantha Carson, who struck out the first eight Manhattan batters she faced, to really set the Indians back on their heels.

Meanwhile, the Washburn Rural offense got off to a solid start in the first. The Junior Blues led off with a hard-hit line drive to the fence in left-center that Kylie Smith nearly caught. A single by Abby Warkentine scored a run and when the hit was bobbled, the runner advanced to scoring position, where she scored after a misplayed ground ball. The infield was hard and fast and led to many tough fielding chances.

The score remained 2-0 until the fourth, while Hoyt was doing a good job of controlling the dangerous Washburn Rural bats. In the fourth, a walk and a pair of bloop hits just over the infield scored one run and put two more runners on with Alyssa Carney coming up. She promptly doubled down the line to score two more, making the score 5-0.

Jung came in to pitch the fifth, but a walk, a stolen base and a two-out single by Metzger scored another run. Washburn Rural then closed out the game in the sixth when it used a walk and five straight balls that just seemed to find the right gaps through the infield to score four more runs and make the final score 10-0 for a run-ruled victory.

MHS was never able to mount a serious threat. Jung and Stigge collected the Indians’ only two hits. Hoyt pitched the first four innings, giving up seven hits and three earned runs. Jung allowed one hit and two walks in her inning. Sydney Bannister came in for her first varsity work of the season and allowed five hits and four runs, while striking out one.

The split ends the Indians’ season at 12-10 and ends the high school careers of five seniors in Smith, Bridegam, Stigge, Hoyt and Massanet.

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