Lady Eagles advance to 2A semis
By Mike Courson
PRATT - Severe weather skirted Pratt all evening Thursday night, allowing Ellinwood to pick up its first state softball win in school history. As the No. 3 seed, the Lady Eagles downed No. 6 Republic County 3-0 to advnce to Friday’s semifinal game. No. 2 Udall defeated No. 7 Medicine Lodge 5-2 in the other half of the bracket.
Ellinwood junior Allison Panning was dominant all game. And early error put a Lady Buffalo on third with just one out in the first, but Panning struck out the next two batters to end the threat. In the second, Panning got two batters looking
to get out of a jam after hitting a batter and walking another.
A leadoff single from junior Audrey Sheets in the sixth inning was Republic County’s first hit of the game. The Lady Buffs again threatened with two on before junior Brittney Beck made a heads-up play at third base to let a ball roll foul. Panning struck out Lady Buff junior Kendra Scott on the next pitch, then got sophomore Brittany MacLean on a weak pop-up to second to end that threat.
Offensively, the Lady Eagles did little themselves the first time through the order as senior Katie Shafer picked up the lone hit on a single to left field in the second inning.
The momentum changed in the third inning. Junior Katelyn Robinson battled Lady Buff junior Madison Hammond in a long at bat before grounding out. Junior Brynlee Baker followed by reaching on an error.
With the top of the order up, senior Laura Standlee nearly reached on a bunt but was called out at first. With two outs, junior Jenna Oelke delivered with a single to drive in Baker. Beck reached on a dropped-third strike, and an error put runners on second and third for senior Mattie Shafer. With the outfield playing near the grass, Shafer belted a doubled past the left fielder to score Baker and Beck.
Those three runs were all Panning needed. She struck out eight through the first five innings of play to pick up the win.
Ellinwood (19-3) is now guaranteed at least two more games and at least a fourth-place finish. The Lady Eagles will move to field A to take on Udall (21-3) Friday morning at 11 a.m. The winner will play for a state title at 2 p.m. The loser will play in the consolation game at 1 p.m.
No. 1 Sedan (23-1) and No. 4 Valley Falls (20-4) will play in the other semifinal, also to be played at 11 a.m. Friday morning.