Carrying on the De Soto softball legacy
Jaguars fall to Topeka Hayden, finish second at state softball tournament
Ashley Perkins pitched a near-perfect game in her last outing as a high school softball player.
She struck out 13 batters and allowed only one run. Only one thing went wrong; her team, the Mill Valley Jaguars, lost 1-0 to the new 4-A state champion Topeka Hayden Wildcats Saturday afternoon in Mulvane.
Placing second in the state was not what the four-year starting pitcher had in mind.
"I'm very disappointed," Perkins said after the game. "I would have loved to have won my last high school game, but we just couldn't get it done."
A lack of offense plagued the Jaguars throughout the tournament, but solid defense kept them in it until the end.
Mill Valley and Topeka Hayden were scoreless going into the bottom of the seventh inning of the championship game. Two close calls put two Wildcats on base. A hit up the middle by Topeka Hayden brought the winning run to the plate. Mill Valley coaches and fans questioned the calls that put the Wildcat runners on base, but coach Pat Sullivan said after the game he held no ill will toward the umpires.
"They were two very close calls and they could have gone either way," he said. "The umpires had a better view than I did, so I accept that they made the right calls. They say football is a game of inches, well that can definitely be said for this game."
Fatigue may have played a factor in the final game for the Jaguars. Their semi final game against Larned was tied 1-1 after seven innings. Pitcher Tiffani Thurman struck out five before Perkins relieved her in the sixth inning. Perkins, whom the coaches hoped to save for the final game, put in six-plus innings before the Jaguars won 4-1 in 12 innings.
Alert base running by Mill Valley's Shannon Keith broke the tie in the top of the 12th. Keith stole home, putting the Jaguars up by one with one out. Katrina Heinrich and Amy Siler also scored before the inning was over.
Mill Valley won its first game of the tournament against Anderson County 3-1.
Jaguars' assistant coach Randy Keith said he was proud of his team's efforts and thought the team, seeded sixth in the tournament, probably surprised a few people.
"I thought they did great considering they weren't really picked to get there," he said. I think we were a better team than people thought we were."
Keith agreed that a little more offense by the Jaguars might have given them a state championship.
"We've struggled all year with hitting and we knew if we couldn't hit we would have trouble," he said.
Keith joined the De Soto High School softball team when his daughter, Shannon, was a freshman. They both made the move to Mill Valley this year. Now that his daughter has graduated, Keith said he would give up coaching.
"I'm going into retirement," he said. I guess I'm going to play golf now."
Keith said he would have liked to have retired a state champion, but looking back, he was pleased with his and the team's accomplishments.
"I've been coaching for four years and we've been to state every year," he said. "We won it four years ago, placed third the following year, fourth last year and second this year. That's pretty enjoyable."
Shannon Keith agreed with her father.
"It's been a pretty good four years and to end it with a league championship and taking second place in state feels pretty good," she said. "I was a little worried this year because we were a younger team, but I think we did well."
Perkins said she would miss playing high school softball, but she has little time to think about that.
"My summer team is playing now and we are getting ready to head to (Los Angeles) and see what we can do against the California teams," she said. "Then I'm going to Washburn University to play next year."