Congratulations to the Blazer softball (above) and baseball (below right) teams for both winning their regional tournament and qualifying for state. The boys will play in Fort Scott and the girls at the Shawnee Mission District Softball Complex. Two players received regional trophies on the same evening. Submitted photos
The Gardner-Edgerton High School softball team combined clutch pitching with timely hitting last Tuesday night, on their way to a pair of wins and a KSHSAA 6A Regional Championship at Gardner-Edgerton District Activities Center. The victories — 14-0 against Blue Valley North and 8-3 over Blue Valley West — earned the Trailblazers a berth in the Kansas 6A State Championship Playoff this week.
After the gamealvin, GEHS head coach, spoke about her team’s efforts.
“They worked hard,” said Calvin. “They brought their bats, and they brought their energy, and I’m proud of them.”
In the first game, against Blue Valley North, Gardner-Edgerton senior pitcher Angelina Gear retired the first three Mustang batters she faced, 1-2-3. It was a sign of things to come. The Blazer hurler would carry a no-hitter into the bottom of the 5th and eventually claimed a victory with 5 complete scoreless innings in which she allowed 1 hit, zero walks, and struck out 8. The lone BVN baserunner of the night came with 2 outs in the bottom of the 5th inning.
The Blazer offense made their impact felt immediately in Game One. In the bottom of the 1st against North, Trailblazer junior 3rd baseman Erin Michael led off the game with a double to left. Junior shortstop Kaylah Newman then executed a sacrifice bunt that moved Michael to 3rd with 1 out. Junior 2nd baseman Kenna Trout then walked to put runners on the corners. During junior designated player Harley Pruetting’s at-bat, Trout stole 2nd to put both runners in scoring position. Pruetting then smacked a 2-0 pitch for a single, scoring both runners for a 2-0 Blazer lead. Junior right fielder Ellie Garrie then pounded a double to dead center that scored Pruetting, and the score was 3-0 Blazers. Garrie then later scored during junior 1st baseman Kiersten Markos’s at-bat, and GEHS held a 4-0 edge after one inning.
The Gardner-Edgerton onslaught continued into the 2nd inning. After Trailblazer junior centerfielder Katie Thompson drew a leadoff walk, senior left fielder Lauryn Karr belted a 2-run homer over the centerfield fence, and the Blazers were suddenly up 6-0. One out later, Newman smacked a single to left field and then stole 2nd on the first pitch of Trout’s next at-bat. On the next pitch, Trout reached first on an infield single that moved Newman to 3rd. Pruetting then came up and — for the 2nd straight inning — delivered a 2-run single to center. The Blazers took an 8-0 lead into the 3rd inning.
After Gear struck out the side in the top of the 3rd, the GEHS bats responded by pushing 2 more runs across in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Karr reached 1st base on a fielding error by the Mustangs’ left fielder. Michael followed that up with a single to left, and Gardner-Edgerton had runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out. Newman then reached base with an infield single, and the bases were loaded. Trout then reached 1st on her own infield single, driving home Karr and making the score 9-0. Pruetting then drove in her 5th run of the game when her ground out to 3rd scored Michael. After 3 complete innings, the Traiblazers held a 10-0 advantage.
The Blazer offense wasted no time getting going in the bottom of the 4th inning. Sophomore catcher Tyler Ringel led off the GEHS half of the inning with a 4-pitch walk, then senior 1st baseman Emma Crouch knocked a single to left to put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs. Sophomore center fielder Lilly Kepler followed and drew a walk to load the bases. Karr then smacked a long single to right that scored two runners and Gardner-Edgerton held a 12-0 lead with runners on 1st and 3rd with zero outs. Michael followed with a sacrifice fly that brought home Kepler, and the lead was 13-0. Newman then came to bat with another infield single, which brought home Karr and gave the Trailblazers a 14-0 advantage gaping into the 5th inning.
Gear then struck out the first batter she faced in the top of the 5th, forced the second one into a ground out, before giving up the Mustangs lone hit — a double to left over a drawn-in outfield. Gear then struck out the game’s last batter, and the Blazers had made it to the Regional Championship game.
Offensively, the Blazers were led by Pruetting, who went 2-4 from the plate with 5 RBIs. Karr went 2-for-2 batting with a home run and 4 RBIs, while getting on base in 3 out of 3 plate appearances. Newman was 3-for-3 officially from the plate with an RBI, while Trout was 2-for-2 with an RBI and was 4-for-4 in plate appearances. Michael contributed a 2-for-3 performance at the plate with a double and an RBI, Garrie was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, and Crouch was 1-for-1 from the plate.
To get to the Championship game, 10th-seeded Blue Valley West upset 7th-seeded Shawnee Mission Northwest 3-1. The title match was set with the 1st-seeded Trailblazers taking on the Jaguars.
West looked to prove that the Blazers would not find the going as easy as they had in Game One. In the top of the 1st, with 2 outs, BVW 3rd baseman Jenna Clark clobbered a solo home run over the left field fence, and the Jaguars jumped out to a 1-0 lead after one half of an inning.
But the Blazer bats hadn’t cooled down from their first game. In the bottom of the 1st, Michael led off with a single to right field. Newman followed with an infield single, putting runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs. That brought Trout to bat, who then blasted a 1-1 pitch over the centerfield fence, putting GEHS up 3-1 after one inning.
That’s how the score remained until the top of the 5th inning, when Blue Valley West junior 1st baseman Brooke Leiker drew a bases-loaded walk to send home a run. Leiker’s RBI cut the Gardner-Edgerton lead to 1 at 3-2, and the Jaguars still had the bases loaded. However, Trailblazer junior starting pitcher Harley Pruetting was able to work her way out of the jam with the next batter, and the Blazers headed to the bottom of the 5th, still holding a one-run lead.
With 2 outs in the bottom of the 5th, Pruetting awakened the GEHS bats by clouting a double to right field. Garrie followed up with an infield single that placed runners on the corners. Junior catcher Ashley Tribble then smacked a single to right that brought home Pruetting, and the Blazers took back a 2-run advantage at 4-2 heading into the top of the 6th.
In the top half of the 6th inning, Gear took over in the circle in relief of Pruetting and shut down BVW to keep the score at 4-2.
The Trailblazers then unleashed their offense’s biggest statement of the game in the bottom of the 6th. With one out, Ringel blasted a double to left field. One out later, Newman brought Ringel home on an infield single then took 2nd base on the throw home, making the score 5-2 Blazers. Trout then brought home Newman in the next at-bat, as the GEHS 2nd baseman mashed a triple to right field, and the score was 6-2. Pruetting followed with a single to center that scored Trout, making the tally 7-2. Garrie then took a base on balls to put runners on 1st and 2nd. Tribble then lofted a double into the outfield that scored Pruetting, and the Blazers took an 8-2 lead into the top of the 7th inning.
It was an inauspicious start to the 7th inning for Gardner-Edgerton, as the Jaguars loaded the bases with their first three batters. However, Gear worked her way out of the jam, retiring the next three batters in a row, allowing just one run, and securing an 8-3 Regional Championship game win.
“Angelina and Harley are a team,” Calvin said of her team’s two hurlers. “They feed off each other, they cheer for each other, and so that makes it a lot easier. One of them knows that, if they’re not having the best day, the other one’s going to pick up. They were talking to each other about the umpire’s zone, what they were seeing out there, and they know they have a defense behind them — so they don’t get too worked up.”
Crouch led the way offensively in the championship game, going 2-for-4 with a triple, a home run, and 4 RBIs. In addition, Tribble was 2-for-4 with a double and 2 runs batted in, Garrie went 2-for-3 from the plate and was 3-for-4 in plate appearances, while Ringel also went 2-for-3. Pruetting batted 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, while Newman was also 2-for-4 with an RBI.
For the day, Newman led all batters, going 5-for-7 with 2 RBIs, while Trout was 4-for-6 with a triple, a home run, and 5 RBIs and was 6-for-8 in plate appearances. Pruetting went 4-for-8 with a double and a team-high 6 RBIs, Garrie was 4-for-7 with a double and 1 RBI and was 5-for-8 in plate appearances, and Michael went 4-for-7 with a double and an RBI. Karr batted 3-for-5 for the day with a home run and 4 RBIs and was 4-for-6 in PAs, Ringel went 2-for-3 with a double and was 3-for-4 in plate appearances, and Tribble went 2-for-6 with a double and 1 RBI.