By JIM MISUNAS
LARNED — Larned’s softball team kept rolling with a Central Kansas League doubleheader sweep over Smoky Valley 8-5 and 8-1.
The Indians (7-9) have won six consecutive games heading to Tuesday’s games at Lyons. Larned lost to eventual Class 4A Division 2 state champion Pratt 1-0 in the regional final last year.
“We have been hitting the ball well this past week, and have been throwing strikes and playing defense since the Hillsboro game,” said Larned coach Dustin Wilson. “It isn’t about how you play April 2, its mid May that matters, and we are taking steps towards playing our best softball at the right time. Right now, we are playing with confidence.”
Pitcher Shay Shepherd earned the first-game victory and hit a pair of two-run homers.
“Or pitching against Smoky was as good as it’s been all year,” Wilson said. “Shay threw very well in game one. As the season has progressed, she has become more of a pitcher, not just a thrower, and her success rate is gone way up.”
Shepherd sparked a six-run first inning with a two-run homer that scored Annie Russum. Alexis Langdon, Mattie Glover and Heather Nuckolls delivered run-scoring singles in the inning.
Shepherd hit a two-run fourth-inning homer that scored Erin Smith.
The Vikings scored five runs in the fifth inning. Katie Bellah, Jacque Hulse and Hannah Morrical delivered run-scoring hits as seven consecutive batters reached base to slice the lead to 8-5. Wilson said the only downside was a shaky fifth inning defensively.
Glover yielded one unearned run in the second game and struck out six batters.
“Mattie has been lights out her last four times,” Wilson said. “The schedule ratchets back up these next two weeks, but we feel that we can compete with anyone when we are playing well.”
Russum singled home Erin Smith to ignite a three-run first inning. Perez doubled home Russum and Perez scored on a bases-loaded walk by Kelsey Parr.
In the second inning, Tymarra Bryant keyed a three-run inning with an RBI single. Smith singled home Parr in the fifth inning. Bryant scored Larned’s eighth run.
LARNED 8, SMOKY VALLEY 5
Smoky Valley 000 050 0 — 5 7 1
Larned 600 200 x — 8 14 4
Campbell and Anderson. Shepherd and Langdon. W—Shepherd. L—Campbell. 2B—SV, Bellah; L, Russum, Perez. 3B—L, Perez. HR—L, Shepherd (2).
LARNED 8, SMOKY VALLEY 1
Smoky Valley 001 000 0 – 1 3 6
Larned 330 011 x – 8 11 2
Otto, Campbell (4) and Anderson. Glover and Langdon. W—Glover. L—Otto. 2B—Perez 2, Smith.
Smoky Valley 5-9
Larned 8-8, Smoky Valley 5-1
Hesston 16-10, Nickerson 1-2
Hillsboro 4-7, Haven 2-6
Kingman 4-3, Hoisington 0-4
Pratt 7-11, Lyons 4-2
Sterling 5-7, Halstead 1-6
HILLSBORO (16-0)—WW Smoky Valley; WW Hoisington; WW Pratt; WW Kingman; WW Larned; WW Sterling; WW Nickerson; WW Lyons; 5-12, at Hesston, Halstead
HAVEN (11-3)—WW Hoisington; WL Pratt; WW Larned; WW Hesston; WW Lyons; WW Kingman; LL Hillsboro; 5-5, at Halstead; 5-8, Smoky Valley; 5-12, at Nickerson, Sterling
PRATT (11-5)—WL Haven; WW Halstead; LL Hoisington; LL Hillsboro; WW Nickerson; WW Hesston; WW Smoky Valley; WW Lyons; 5-5, Sterling; 5-12, Kingman, Larned
LYONS (8-4)--WW Hesston; WW Sterling; WW Kingman; LL Haven; WW Halstead; LL Pratt; 5-4, at Hillsboro; 5-5, Larned; 5-8, at Nickerson; 5-12, Hoisington, Smoky Valley
STERLING (9-7)—WW Larned; LL Lyons; WW Hesston; LL Smoky Valley; WL Kingman; LL Hillsboro; WW Hoisington; WW Halstead; 5-5, at Pratt; 5-12, at Nickerson, Haven
KINGMAN (9-7)—WW Nickerson; WW Hesston; WW Smoky Valley; LL Lyons; LL Hillsboro; WL Sterling; LL Haven; WW Halstead; WL Hoisington; 5-12, at Pratt, Larned
HOISINGTON (8-8)—LL Haven; WL Halstead; LL Hillsboro; WW Pratt; WW Larned; WW Hesston; LL Sterling; WL Kingman; 5-5, at Nickerson; 5-12, at Lyons, Smoky Valley
LARNED (7-9)—LL Sterling; LL Haven; WL Halstead; LL Hoisington; LL Hillsboro; WW Nickerson; WW Hesston; WW Smoky Valley; 5-5, at Lyons; 5-12, at Pratt, Kingman
SMOKY VALLEY (5-9)—LL Hillsboro; WW Nickerson; LL Kingman; WW Sterling; WL Halstead; LL Pratt; LL Larned; 5-4, Hesston; 5-8, at Haven; 5-12, at Lyons, Hoisington
HALSTEAD (5-9)—WL Hoisington; LL Pratt; WL Larned; WW Nickerson; WL Smoky Valley; LL Lyons; 4-28, Kingman; LL Sterling; 5-5, Haven; 5-12, at Hesston, Hillsboro
HESSTON (2-14)--LL Lyons; LL Kingman; LL Sterling; LL Haven; LL Hoisington; LL Pratt; LL Larned; WW Nickerson; 5-4, at Smoky Valley; 5-12, Halstead, Hillsboro
NICKERSON (0-14)--LL Kingman; LL Smoky Valley; LL Halstead; LL Pratt; LL Larned; LL Hillsboro; LL Hesston; 5-5, Hoisington; 5-8, Lyons; 5-12, Haven, Sterling