Pete Logan
Special to The Gardner News
The Gardner-Edgerton High School softball team found the going rough last week, dropping three straight decisions — a heartbreaker at Olathe South and both games of a home twinbill against Olathe West.
On April 9, the Trailblazers traveled to Olathe District Activities Center to take on the Falcons of Olathe South. It was a duel of pitching and defense that saw both sides head into the 7th inning tied at 2-2. However, the Falcons were able to plate a run off a single in their last at bat and win the game, 3-2.
On April 11, the Blazers hosted the Owls of Olathe West and ran into an offensive buzzsaw.
In Game One, the Owls plated 3 runs in the top of the first, but GEHS answered back with 2 runs of their own to make the score 3-2 after one inning. Pitch control hurt the Trailblazers in the tops of the 3rd and 4th innings, as West scored 3 runs in those frames to to go up 6-2.
However, the offense woke up for Gardner-Edgerton in the bottom of the 4th inning. Senior 1st baseman Amber Mott led off the inning with a walk and then moved to 2nd on freshman center fielder Katie Thompson’s infield single. A throwing error by the Owls’ catcher allowed Mott and Thompson to move to 3rd and 2nd, respectively, before freshman Erin Michael stroked a single and a throwing error by the West centerfielder plated both runners. With the score now 6-4, senior shortstop Ashlyn Anderson smacked a triple to deep right centerfield and scored Michael to bring GEHS within one run. Anderson then scored on senior 2nd baseman Gabby Schultz’s force out, and the score was tied 6-6 after 4 complete.
The lead, however, was short lived, as the Owls led off the top of the 5th with 5 straight hits — including a 2-run dinger — and took a 10-6 lead.
The bottom half of the inning proved that the Trailblazers weren’t done. Freshman designated player Makenna Trout led off the home half of the inning with a single to center and moved to 3rd base on a pair of West errors — one of which allowed GEHS freshman Lauryn Karr to reach 1st. Though Karr would be out on a Mott force out, Mott’s at bat did drive Trout home to make the score 10-7. Both Thompson and Michael then reached to load the bases, and Mott scored on a walk to Anderson to make the score 10-8 after the 5th.
Still, Olathe West scored 3 in the top of the 6th and 1 more in the top of the 7th to take a commanding 15-8 lead. Yet the Blazers weren’t going to go quietly.
Junior left fielder Kailani Donham led off the bottom of the 7th by being hit with a pitch and earning 1st base. Walks to Michael and then Anderson loaded the bases. Two outs later, Trout smacked a single to clear the bases and make the score 15-11. However, the Owls forced the next batter into a 6-3 groundout to end the game.
The tone was set early in Game Two, as the Owls’ leadoff batter smacked a home run to centerfield, and West plated 4 runs to take a 4-0 lead.
The Blazers answered, however. After Anderson reached 1st on an error by the West shortstop, Schultz moved her to 2nd with a single to left. With two outs, Blazer right fielder Lauren Lundy stroked a single up the middle that scored Anderson. An infield single by GEHS pitcher Payton Outler loaded the bases, and then Mott’s infield single scored Schultz, making it 4-2 after one.
Yet nothing could cool the Olathe West bats. The Owls hit a grand slam home run in the bottom of the 2nd to take an 8-2 lead.
The bottom of the 2nd saw a two-out mini rally by the Blazers. First, Anderson reached on an infield single. Schultz then smacked a double to left that moved Anderson to 3rd. Trout then loped a single into the outfield that score both runners, and it was 8-4 after two complete.
But the Owl offensive attack was relentless. They tallied 7 more runs over the next 3 innings and held GEHS scoreless over that time until the bottom of the 5th. In that frame, the Blazers were able to score one more run, but it wasn’t enough to keep the game going as the Owls took the contest, 15-5, on KSHSAA run-margin rules.
Trout led the Trailblazer offense on the day, going 5-for-6 with 5 RBIs. In all, Trout reached base on 7 of her 8 plate appearances. Anderson went 2-for-4 from the plate with a triple and 2 RBIs and reached base on 6 of her 8 plate appearances.