SALINA — The Wamego softball team set out this year to defend its Class 4A state championship trophy, but settled for the third-place plaque instead.
The Red Raiders fell to Bishop Miege 6-5 in Friday’s state semifinal.
Neither team scored in the first inning, but the Stags’ Cameron Soldner homered on a line drive to center field to gain a run in the second inning.
Wamego went ahead by a run in its half of the second on a Ryann Alderson homer to left field, which also brought in Peyton Hardenburger.
The game then swung back in favor of Bishop Miege, which scored two runs on Jada Gilliland’s home run. The Red Raiders couldn’t respond and, at the end of the third inning, the Stags held a 3-2 lead.
Neither team scored in the fourth inning, but Bishop Miege added one run in the top of the fifth and two more in the top of the sixth, putting it ahead 6-2.
That set up Wamego’s big play of the game.
Down four runs, Ashten Pierson hit a double. Paige Donnelly followed with a single, putting two Red Raiders on base. Maya Gallagher then slammed a line-drive home run to left field, which plated all three Wamego players, narrowing the score to 6-5.
A pitching change in the top of the seventh, put Hardenburger in for Gallagher and kept Bishop Miege from scoring, giving Wamego the bottom of the seventh to tie or pull ahead.
It came down to a full count with two outs and two runners on, but the Red Raiders couldn’t pull off the final hit, leaving them a run short and moving them into the consolation game.
“We lost in the semi-finals but I was proud of how the girls battled,” said Wamego coach Luke Meyer. “The game was back-and-forth the whole time. It didn’t go our way, but it’s a state tournament. It’s not supposed to be easy.”
Things improved for the Red Raiders in the consolation game, where they faced Clearwater, which lost their semi-final to Eudora.
Wamego won 6-1.
The first two innings were blanks for both teams before Wamego’s bats came alive in the bottom of the third. The Red Raiders were able to score a pair of runs when Donnelly tapped in a single and Gallagher followed with her second home run of the day.
The Red Raider defense made quick work of Clearwater in the fourth inning and Pierson, Trista Hoobler and Kenedi Hirt each fielded an Indian ball for an out. In its half of the inning, Pierson helped Wamego extend its lead when she added to the home run tally, blasting a ball to left field and scoring Alderson and Bailey Thornton, 5-0.
The Indians’ lone run came in the top of the fifth when Carli Carlson stole home. The Red Raiders answered that run immediately, as Gallagher singled and Hoobler doubled, scoring Gallagher.
“It took us a little time to get going,” Meyer said. “Peyton pitched really well and our defense played well behind her. Once we got their pitching timed up, we put it together. It was a tough game though. These were the top four teams in the state and you never take anybody lightly.”
Wamego ends the season with a 23-2 overall record. The Red Raiders lose seven impactful seniors from this year’s squad including: Donnelly, Delaney Campbell, Hirt, Alderson, Kennedy, Thornton and Kenzie Davis.