Cyclones softball program back among state leaders
The Ottawa High School softball program re-established itself on the state level this season.
The Cyclones made that leap by claiming the Frontier League championship, handing Spring Hill its only loss and compiling a 16-6 mark, which is the best in several years.
“I think this season has helped get Ottawa softball back on the map in the state and it is a credit to the work our girls have put in,” Ottawa coach Chris Rose said.
The Ottawa season came to a close Wednesday in the regional championship game. Wamego bested the Cyclones, 9-1. Ottawa advanced to the title game with a 13-3 win in five innings over Labette County.
“I know that this was not the ending to the season that we would have liked, but I am very proud of what we accomplished this season,” Rose said. “We always have the three same goals: win a league title, win a regional title and win a state title. We were able to accomplish one of those with winning the first Frontier League softball title in quite some years.”
The Cyclones sent three seniors out with the best softball season in their prep careers.
“I am very thankful for our three seniors: Lauren Curtis, Maddison Somand and Riley Titus,” Rose said. “They have been tremendous leaders and great girls to coach. I am excited for next year with the girls we have coming back and some of the talent we have in the freshmen class.”
The Cyclones set themselves up well heading into the championship game against Wamego.
“We got the quick, decisive win versus Labette and Baldwin gave Wamego a pretty good game, making them use both of their pitchers,” Rose said. “We knew going into this game that Wamego was extremely talented, especially their top 5 in the line-up and they had a very hard throwing pitcher.”
Wamego, which used a tiebreaker to get home field advantage over Ottawa, took full advantage of being at home.
“Wamego definitely outplayed us and used their crowd and energy to help them,” Rose said. “Hosting a regional is important for homefield advantage and it played a big role in the energy they had. I also thought our girls had great energy and we were ready to go, but things didn't play out like we needed them to to win.”
Rose said a big key to the game was grabbing the momentum from the start, but it did not happen.
“We discussed the biggest key for us was to get a good start offensively and score some runs to take their crowd and dugout out of the game and we were not able to do that,” Rose said.
Wamego smashed a three-run home run in the first inning.
“We knew we were going to have to scrap and score runs against a very good pitcher,” Rose said. “We were able to get out of some jams with great defensive plays but it still wasn't enough.”
Centerfielder Kirsten Evans snatched away a three-run home run with a nice defensive play.
“It was probably the best outfield play I have ever seen,” Rose said. “She timed her jump and pulled the ball back in on the catch. She is without a doubt one of the best centerfielders in the state and she has been a tremendous player for us this season.”
Ottawa’s run came on Emma Stottlemire’s home run. Chevy Seaton had two hits.
Ottawa played true to the game plan against Labette County.
“We did exactly what we wanted to do and took care of business,” Rose said. “It was important for us to make a quick game to put us in a good position rest-wise for the championship game.”
Ottawa scored six runs in the second inning to snag a 7-0 lead. Seaton hit a home run in the uprising.
“We were able to take advantage of some hits that forced Labette to move a lot defensively,” Rose said.
The five-run third was capped by Curtis’ three-run home run. Alex Powell picked up her 10th win in the circle and had six strikeouts.
Labette County Stat Leaders:
Kirsten Evans: 2-3, 1 RBI
Emma Stottlemire: 2-3, 3 RBI
Riley Titus: 2-3, 1 RBI
Lauren Curtis: 1-3, HR 4 RBI
Ellie Seaton: 2-2, HR 1 RBI