By JIM MISUNAS
LARNED — The Hoisington-Central Plains Cardinals did everything right to capture the school’s first state softball berth since 2007.
The Cardinals overwhelmed league rival Larned 8-3 Thursday to capture the Larned Class 4A-Division 2 softball regional. Winning pitcher Karisa Schremmer stranded nine baserunners and delivered a three-run double. Catcher Marisa Jonas threw out a baserunner and punctuated the victory with a deep home run to left field. Jonas shut down Larned’s running game by throwing out Annie Russum in the fourth inning to prevent a big inning.
The Indians surprised the Cardinals in last year’s regional. This time, it was the Cardinals’ turn. The Cardinals qualify for Class 4A-Division 2 state softball at Topeka May 28-29. The Cardinals (13-9) play top-seeded Girard (21-1) at 5 p.m. May 28 at Topeka's Hummer Sports Complex. Other first round games match Jefferson West (17-4) vs. Goodland (16-4) at 7 p.m.; last year's runner-up Clearwater (17-3) vs. Chapman (15-7) at 5 p.m.; and Praierie View (18-4) vs. St. Geroege-Rock Creek (15-6) at 7 p.m.
“We know more Larned players. We kind of have a rivalry,” Schremmer said. “We knew we had to play our best. We knew they were capable.”
Schremmer said the Cardinals kept the momentum,.
“We played the best we could’ve played today,” Schremmer said. “We all feed off each other’s energy. If someone gets a big hit, that’s what gets us going. We told ourselves we’d stay up all day. As pitchers, we worked on hitting our spots.”
Hoisington coach Gary Boxberger credited the Cardinals’ defense.
“We played pretty well today,” Boxberger said. “They pitched to our defense. We made some catches that I didn’t think we’d make today. Tyann made two catches that I don’t know anyone else would get to.”
Boxberger was happy when Larned beat Thomas More Prep 6-2.
“We respect Larned. They beat us at our house to get to the finals. It was our turn to get a pay back,” Boxberger said. “We wanted to play Larned because we’d seen them before.”
Schremmer drove in four runs with three hits. Her double cleared the bases and led to a 7-0 lead off losing pitcher Mattie Glover.
The Cardinals’ Karisa Schremmer scored the first run on a wild pitch. Shae Bitter’s run was unearned when Schremmer drove her in with a second-inning groundout.
Glover opened the door with three hit batters and a walk that forced in two runs for a 4-0 lead in the third inning. Schremmer greeted reliever Shay Shepherd with a bases-clearing blast.
It took a back seat to Jonas’ fourth homer down the left field line. Jonas knew she hit it.
“I’m just trying to hit the ball and get a base hit, but that one felt better than usual. It feels great to help my team. It’s nice because they are a rival. We got pumped up today.”
One poor inning cost the Indians.
“I give them a lot of credit, but that third inning hurt us and there is no defense for that,” said Larned coach Dustin Wilson. “We gave them baserunners and they got to the top of the order. There is no shame losing to them. That’s the best defensive team we’ve seen all year.
Larned (9-13) played scrappy offense with 11 base hits, but the Indians stranded nine runners many in scoring position. Glover’s two-run single scored Maci Perez and Alexis Langdon in the fourth inning. Shepherd’s base hit scored Erin Smith in the seventh inning. Schrmmer’s cousin, right fielder Tyann Schremmer saved several runs with a pair of running catches. Shortstop Kaycee Steiner also preserved a run by keeping a base hit in the infield.
“Our girls put our best game out there,” Wilson said. “We made some defensive plays and hit the softball. It was a solid championship game.”
THOMAS MORE PREP 2
Larned had hard luck trying to hit Thomas More Prep pitcher Bailey Lacy. But the Indians’ bunting game was perfect in a game that saw the Indians strike out 16 times.
Larned’s Erin Smith and Annie Russum reached base on back-to-back bunts to spark a five-run sixth inning for a 6-2 semifinal victory.
Haley Skelton singled to start the sixth and Skelton scored when third baseman Katelynn Zimmerman threw the ball away on Smith’s sacrifice bunt at first base.
Russum was safe on a bunt base hit down the third base line and Zimmerman’s throw went past first base to score Smith. Russum scored on a wild pitch for a 4-1 lead.
Alexis Langdon’s single scored Maci Perez after a single and she scored on a wild pitch for a 6-1 lead.
Larned pitcher Shay Shepherd was supported by two double plays. Centerfielder Annie Russum turned a fly ball by Zimmerman into a fourth-inning double play. Shortstop Bryant turned Heidi Gottschalk’s double play into a fifth-inning double play.
Lacy struck out 16 batters.
The Indians scored their first run on Tymarra Bryant’s single after a long double by Langdon in the fifth inning.
The Monarachs scored in the fourth inning when pinch runner Ciara Sieb scored. The Monarchs scored their second run in the sixth when Sieb scored on an error as a pinch runner after Laurel Hageman singled.
CENTRAL PLAINS 12,
Pitcher Delaney Smith threw a one-hit shutout and struck out two batters in the first semifinal. Smith was backed by flawless defense. Third baseman Kenzie Kaiser made two solid plays.
The Cardinals iced the outcome with a 10-run third inning. Passion Martinez delivered a two-run single and Emma Harmon followed with a two-run double.
Regan Phelan and Kaiser also drove in runs. The Cardinals took advantage of 12 walks and a hit batter.
H-CP 8, LARNED 3
Larned 000 200 1 — 3 11 1
H-CP 115 100 x — 8 6 0
Glover, Shepherd (3) and Langdon. Karisa Schremmer and W— Karisa Schremmer and Jonas. L—Glover. 2B—H-CP, Karisa Schremmer. HR—H-CP, Jonas (4).
LARNED 6, TMP 2
Larned 000 015 0 – 6 8 1
TMP 000 101 0 – 2 5 2
Shepherd and Langdon. Lacy and Hageman. W—Shepherd. L—Lacy. 2B—L, Langdon, Perez.
H-CP 12, NICKERSON 0
Nickerson 000 00 – 0 1 1
H-CP 10(10) 1x – 12 5 0
Ortiz, Goldsmith (3) and. Smith and Jonas. W—Smith. L—Ortiz. 2B—H-CP, Steiner, Harmon. 3B—H-CP, Steiner.