PRATT – Looking to return to the Class 4A State Softball Tournament, the Abilene Cowgirls came up just short against the Rose Hill Rockets 4-1 at the Pratt regional Wednesday evening.
The Rockets (16-6) entered the contest as the number five seed in the 4A West Division as they squared off against the twelve seed Cowgirls (7-13). On a very sunny, warm mid May evening the two teams were engaged in a well pitched, well played softball game.
The Rockets got hits against the Cowgirls early as the lead off hitter Makinzy Cain tripled to right center field to begin the first inning. Abilene, one of the Top 5 defensive teams in the state this season, got a sparkling defensive play by senior shortstop Hannah Willey and senior third baseman Maci Debenham. Rockets shortstop Emily Adler lined a dart that Willey caught and quickly tossed the ball to Debenham to double off Cain.
Cain started on the circle for the Rockets and tossed the first four innings limiting the Cowgirls to one unearned run on two hits and she struck out five. Sydney Adler pitched the final three innings of hitless, scoreless relief. She walked one and struck out four.
“It’s a hard one to end like this,” Abilene head coach LouAna Taplin said. “Both pitchers threw well and we may have had trouble adjusting to the strike zone early in the game. It was rough that the bats just weren’t there today because our defense was amazing again and Emily pitched well enough for us to win.
“It’s like the season, our bats just didn’t show up when we needed them too. Not to discredit their pitcher, she had some movement on the ball but our bats just weren’t there.”
Abilene senior Emily Burt was the tough luck pitcher for the Cowgirls as she took the loss allowing four earned runs on eight hits. She walked two batters.
The Cowgirls struggled at the plate against the two Rocket pitchers but were in the game until the very end.
Rose Hill scored a single run in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings.
The Cowgirls run came in the fourth when senior second baseman Turner Alderson slashed a hard hit double to the gap in left center field. Alderson advanced to third on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Debenham and then she slid safely across the plate on a Rose Hill error.
Willey had the Cowgirls other hit in the game when she roped a lead off single to begin the Abilene fifth inning. She unfortunately was left stranded as Adler set down the next three Cowgirl hitters to end that rally.
Alderson drew a two-out sixth inning walk to be the only Cowgirl base runner in the sixth inning and the lineup went down in order in the top of the seventh.
With the loss, the Cowgirls season comes to an end and so does the career of five talented seniors as center fielder Rylie Volkman, Willey, Burt, Alderson and Debenham played their final game for the Orange and Brown.
Taplin and assistant coaches Brian Roth and Kristi Gomez will have to develop replacements for these five athletes who have meant so much to the program.
“This group is irreplaceable as a whole,” Taplin said. “They are a great group of girls. They have been great leaders. They have great attitudes. Everyday was fun with these kids. It’s going to be hard to replace them. We’ll do it, but it will be hard.”
Contact Ron Preston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rose Hill 4, Abilene 1
Abilene 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 – 1-2-1
Rose Hill 0 1 1 0 1 1 X – 4-8-2
WP: Sydney Adler
LP: Emily Burt
2B: Alderson (AHS), Raney, Conroy (RHHS)
3B: Cain (RHHS)