Tuesday, 27 July 2021
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Holton Softball Takes Third at State
By Justin Fluke
Copyright: MSC Sports

Despite aspirations of reaching the state championship dashed in an extra inning semifinal upset, the Holton softball team was able to end their season with a victory and claim third place at the 4A State Softball Tournament in Salina. The Wildcats ended their campaign with the most wins in school history (23-2) after beating Clay Center 8-1 and finishing in the top four for the third straight season. 

Semifinal = Andale Garden Plain (ADP) 3, Holton 2 in 8 innings

The first game on Saturday morning will be one that haunts Holton for quite some time. The top seed Lady Cats were in complete control with a 2-0 lead entering the seventh inning and AGP had just one-hit three total base-runners on the day. Yet, Brady Schwartz hit a home run to deep center on the secod pitch of the final inning and it was game on.  After one out, the only Holton error of the game allowed a baserunner and following a fielders choice, the Indians pieced together two singled to tie the conest at two. A leadoff triple by Kyla Eck and RBI groundout scored the winning run in the eight to complete the 3-2 comeback.

Holton grabbed an early 1-0 lead by taking advantage of an AGP error in the first and added to the lead with Stacy Bond's first home run of the season in the third.  It was the Wildcats 33rd team glory ball of the year. Yet, the Wildcats couldn't score after loading the bases with nobody out in the fourth when they had a chance to blow the game open. The first out came at home plate trying to score of a passed ball before a line-drive double play to third ended the threat. 

Sadie Walker was phenominal on the mound allowing just one hit and one walk through the first five innings. She had struck out 10 and retired 10 consecutive batters before being replaced by Holton's other number one ace, Gracie Gallagher to start the sixth inning. Holton out-hit AGP six to four with a half dozen different Wildcat starters each having one hit, but it was the Indians that advanced back to their second straight state title game before falling to Wamego in the championship.  

Consolation = Holton 8, Clay Center 1

The top two seeds and favorites at state tried to find some energy and bounce back from heart-breaking one-run-losses in the semifinals in one final game that featured the top 4A Player of the Year candidates in Sadie Walker of Holton and Clara Edwards from Clay Center. Edwards, who had retired the final 12 batters of a 2-1 semifinal loss against Wamego, gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead with a home run in the third inning.  She also pitched the entire third place game and struck out six batters. Holton however, proved how incredible their offense is (even against the best senior pitcher in the state) as the Cats pounded out eight runs on eight hits to earn the victory. 

Holton scored three to take a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third frame as Gallagher and Olivia Summers delivered RBI singles and Walker added an RBI double in the fourth. The Wildcats scored four more times in the sixth inning with Walker and Brooke Flewelling producing RBI hits. Gallagher tossed the first four innings allowing just one run on three hits and six strikeouts to conclude her campaign with 116 strikeouts to just 3 total walks.  Walker proved she was simple unhitable at state by retiring all nine batters she faced and striking out six of them to end the game. 

For the season, that put Walker at 104 strikeouts to just 10 walks.  At state she pitched 10 of Holton's 22 total innings, she allowed zero runs on just two total hits and also led the Wildcat offense going 6-9 at the plate to bump her .660 season average. 

State Quarterfinal = Holton 5, WInfield 2

On Friday at Bill Burke Park in Salina, Holton opened state by defeating Winfield.  After two scoreless innings, Holton got three runs on four hits in the third on RBI hits from Walker, Flewelling and Summers.  Leading 3-2 going into the ffith frame, the Cats got a pair of runs on RBI hits from Gallagher and Summers for the final score of 5-2.  Bond scored two of the Wildcat runs for a team that averaged 13 runs per game this season and batted .488 as a team while winning 16 of their 23 games by run rule.  

Holton will no doubt be a favorite to win the Big 7 and state softball title next year while returning all but two players in seniors Grace Utz, and Ally Beard, who missed all 2021 with injury. 

©2021 MSC Sports
Hiawatha, KS 66434
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