SJA softball bats go quiet in regional final
Overland Park The pitching contrast between Pittsburg’s Caitlyn Burdick in the regional semifinal and Blue Valley Southwest’s McKenzie Weber in the regional championship showed as St. James couldn’t catch up to Weber.
St. James downed Pittsburg 6-1 for a shot at Southwest, but the Timberwolves’ pitcher was perfect as they defeated the Lady Thunder 12-0 in five innings.
Weber faced 15 batters and all 15 went back to the dugout. She recorded seven strikeouts as Blue Valley Southwest advanced to next week’s state tournament.
The Timberwolves got all the offense they needed when Peyton Renzi smoked a two-run inside-the-park home run to left center.
They tacked on two in the second and it seemed like Katie Coen’s day in the pitcher’s circle was done as she started and threw all seven innings against Pittsburg.
Page Mindedahl came in, but struggled to find her command in what was only her third appearance of the season.
“Pitching isn’t something I pursued my whole life,” Mindedahl said. “It’s been something I’ve been able to do. I haven’t pitched a lot this year to prepare for games like this. Getting put in that situation I was stressed out about it.”
With each pitch that missed the zone Mindedahl’s shoulders dropped a little bit further. The freshman put a lot of pressure on herself to perform.
Before her final at bat of the season in the fourth inning, she started to tear up. She felt like she had let the team down.
“I put way too much pressure on myself and stress myself out,” Mindedahl said.
She allowed three walks and a single before Coens came back in from right field.
Coens knew there was a possibility of coming back into the game and she said she was mentally prepared for it.
She said she prepared her body in the offseason so she could throw 14 innings if need be.
“Our windup is different than baseball, so we can have the endurance to do that,” Coens said.
Against Pittsburg, Coens struck out six batters while allowing seven hits and a run. Against Southwest, she allowed nine runs on seven hits in four innings.
She was ready for the challenge and was excited for the opportunity to face Blue Valley Southwest again after being swept in a doubleheader during the regular season.
The loss marks the end of Taylor Duff and Caroline Geither’s high school careers. The Lady Thunder will return 10 juniors and two freshman next season.
Geither said she got to play with both her sisters for a few years.
“I got to finish the season with these great ladies,” Geither said. “There’s a lot of memories behind the four years and it taught me a lot.”
Geither sparked the offense against Pittsburg with a lead-off double in the second. She was brought home one batter later when Molly Hackett doubled.
Elizabeth Zeit tripled to make it 2-0. She tried scoring as Duff bounced back to the Burdick. As the throw went to first, Zeit made a break for home, but was thrown out.
The Lady Thunder tacked on one in the third and three more in the fourth as Mindedahl and Coens picked up RBIs.
Geither said the styles of pitching between Pittsburg and Southwest were hard to adjust to.
“This girl coming out throwing high 50s almost 60, it was hard to hit off her compared to the last girl,” she said.
Most swings that connected with a ball sent it foul toward the opposite field. The timing was thrown off. The Lady Thunder didn’t get a ball out of the infield.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘This is my last at bat of high school, just do something with it,’” Geither said. “I couldn’t pull it off, but I was still smiling walking out. That’s all that matters.”