Ottawa’s season ended in heartbreak. With the bases loaded and no one out in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s regional championship game against Paola, senior pitcher Jordan Johnson proceeded to strikeout three Lady Cyclones in a row. That saved a 2-1 win for the Lady Panthers at Orlis Cox Sports Complex, 901 W. Second St., Ottawa, sending them to the state tournament and ending an impressive run by the Ottawa High School softball team.
Due to nasty weather on Monday, OHS did not start regional play until Tuesday. The team rallied for an 8-4 win over Spring Hill in its first game to advance to the championship. Paola got its first-round game in before the storms hit Monday, beating Louisburg 8-0.
In the title game, neither team mustered much offense. Ottawa’s lone run came in the top of the fourth when Lauren Curtis, freshman, hit a two-out single that scored Moriah Geschwentner, junior, from second base. That run tied the game 1-1 until the Lady Panthers scored in the bottom of the sixth on a two-out RBI single by Halle Schindler, junior.
Ottawa’s top of the seventh began with a lead-off single by Justine Kennington, junior, followed by a bloop infield hit on a bunt attempt by Allina Kerns, junior. Kamryn Shaffer, senior, was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs, but Johnson followed up the shaky start to the inning by inducing three consecutive swinging strikeouts. The 2-1 loss marked the second time this season Ottawa fell to the Lady Panthers by a late run.
“They are a great group, and they fought hard,” Amber Harris, OHS head softball coach, said. “That was a good game. We have a great group of seniors.”
The team fought hard in its opener as well, masking some costly errors with timely hitting. Spring Hill took a 4-1 lead after scoring four runs on no hits and two errors in the bottom of the fourth.
Ottawa’s answer was immediate. In the ensuing frame, OHS scored seven runs to go ahead for good. Kerns scored from third on a groundout by Jocelyn Woods, senior. Fellow senior Jenna DeVore drove in Shaffer on an RBI single to make it 4-3. Emma Gibbs, junior, singled and scored from second on a Spring Hill error to tie the game. Kennington then hit a two-out RBI infield single with the bases loaded to give her team the lead. On the next pitch, Kerns belted a two-RBI double to make it 7-4. The onslaught ended after Shaffer reached on an error that scored a run from third.
The Lady Cyclones finish 12-10 on the season.