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Wamego softball heads to state as No. 2 seed

Kelly McHugh

By A Contributor

The Wamego High softball team continued its winning streak last week in the regional tournament to go 23-0 this season.

Wamego now heads into this weekend’s Class 4A state softball tournament in Salina as the No. 2 seed — opening with Basehor-Linwood tonight at 5 at the Bill Burke Sports Complex.

Red Raiders coach Dawn Reed-Schultz — who is in her second season at Wamego — said practices since regionals have been good for the team and it is looking forward to facing Basehor-Linwood.

“It’s been a fun week-and-a-half of preparing,” said Reed-Schultz, who played softball at Tulsa and coached at Rogers State before taking over the Red Raiders. “Lots of community support and a lot of practice and getting prepared as well, but we’re enjoying the moment.”

Basehor-Linwood travels to Salina coming off three shutouts this season. It’s last game was in regionals against Bonner Springs on May 15 — a 7-0 win for the Bobcats. That win came on the heels of a 29-0 drubbing the Bobcats handed Turner High.

On the offensive side, Reed-Schultz knows Basehor-Linwood won’t hold back at state.

“We know that Basehor won the state championship in, I think, 2010,” she said, “so they’ve got some experience there. We’re really just focused on staying loose, playing with confidence and having aggressive at bats at the plate.”

Wamego’s first regional game was against Hiawatha on May 14, a 9-1 win.

Following that first win, the Red Raiders took on Abilene and despite the Cowgirls scoring early in the first inning, Wamego’s defense held the remainder of the game — eventually winning with a walk-off home run by freshman utility player Emalee Chrest for the 2-1 win.

The Red Raiders played Holton the following day — winning 4-3 after scoring four runs in the fifth inning to secure their spot in the state tournament.

“Overall, we got the job done and did what we had to do to get the win,” Reed-Schultz said about the regionals. “It wasn’t pretty at times, but we did enough to make sure we advanced. We were a little tight at the regional tournament, and we hadn’t really been all season long, so it’s something we’ve been working on at practice.”

Freshman Brittany Finney continues to lead her team in just about every category, as she carries a team-best .516 batting average with five home runs and 20 RBIs. As a pitcher, Finney led the Red Raiders with a 19-0 record in the circle with a 1.09 ERA, as well as 174 strikeouts in 115 1/3 innings this season.

Finney is one of four freshmen on the roster this season for Wamego, which loses just one senior from the varsity squad next year in second baseman Morgan Dillon.

“I’m just really looking forward to the state experience.” said Finney, who has already committed to play at Oklahoma. “This is only the second time in history that we are going to go to state, and the first time that Coach Schultz will be taking us to state.

“So I’m really looking forward to being able to see the competition that we’re going to have there, and the caliber of teams that play there. I think it will give us really good knowledge of what to expect for the upcoming years and it’ll make us all that much better.”

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