Improved Wildcats bow out in first round of regionals
The optimist would have little trouble finding positives to take from the De Soto softball team's regional debut Monday in Basehor.
Indeed the Wildcats hit as well as they have all season, scored with both power and creativity and had the region's No. 2 seed, the powerful Basehor-Linwood Bobcats, flustered and frustrated.
It all came unraveled for De Soto with a fourth-inning three-run triple, however. Basehor's Annie King belted the ball to the center field fence, clearing the loaded bases. She then dashed home herself as the Wildcats left home plate unattended.
It was debilitating, it was frustrating and while it isn't fair to say it was the one hit which led to De Soto's 9-2 loss, it was hard to deny the deflating effect it had.
"We were in it the whole time right up to that four-run inning," De Soto coach Melissa Fletcher said. "It was hard. You could see the kids involved felt bad."
The Wildcats couldn't have been better for the game's first three innings. Fletcher said fans saw the pinnacle of both the long season's hard work and an end-of-the-season offensive streak.
De Soto, 7-13, won its final two games of the regular season, defeating Prairie View 6-5 and 4-2. Combined with a May 8 win over eventual regional champion Eudora, the Cats were on a genuine roll.
It carried into Monday's regional opener. De Soto took a 1-0 lead, then Kira Gonzalez scored again. Kegan Cronin drew a walk to get to first, then stole second, drawing a throw from the Basehor catcher. Cronin, De Soto's senior catcher, plowed into the waiting ball and jarred it loose. Meanwhile Gonzalez slipped home as the ball trickled harmlessly across the infield dirt.
Freshman Katie Williams continued to do her part from the mound as well. She held a strong Basehor lineup in check through the first three innings.
"She pitched really well, but they started timing her," Fletcher said. "She's been pitching well. Katie brings a lot of speed, and it was something different."
It all seemed to catch up to the Cats with King's big hit, but De Soto wasn't done.
Senior Meagan Bliss led the way in the fifth inning, getting aboard with a one-out infield single. Junior Jessica Pennington and Cronin then followed, each reaching first base as Bliss beat out potential outs twice by sliding first into second base, then into third.
It gave the Wildcats a bases loaded opportunity with just one out, but De Soto couldn't take advantage.
Basehor added another run to start off its half of the fifth inning, and added two more with a triple to the left field wall.
De Soto showed one final time it didn't intend on living up to its No. 7 seed. Two runners reached in the sixth, and Bliss smashed a ball toward the right field foul pole in the seventh, but a great defensive catch rendered it an out, too.
"We hit the ball well," Fletcher said. "We put it in play all night. We hit the ball hard. It's definitely as hard as we've hit it all season.
"We peaked at the right time but just didn't have enough."