By Michael Buhler
The Cheney Cardinals softball team had little trouble reaching the finals of the Class 3A regional tournament it hosted last week, but the championship contest was a different story.
The Cardinals rallied from an early two-run deficit to take a 5-2 win over Kingman-Norwich last Wedneaday to punch their ticket to the State tournament.
“Winning our regional was awesome!” Cheney coach Matthew Johnson said. “We knew Kingman would be tough especially after beating them a week earlier for the league title. It was an amazing crowd and a well played game by both squads.”
Kingman-Norwich took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning, but the Cardinals tied the score in the bottom of the fourth. With the score still tied in the bottom of the fifth inning, Elina Bartlett smacked a two-run double to put the Cardinals ahead to stay. Cheney added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning to set the final score.
“Our girls got down early, but came right back to tie the game, then the next inning took the lead for good,” Johnson said. “We feel so lucky to have the opportunity to play this spring and our girls have really shown how much they have missed not playing last year.”
Bartlett, Halley Jones and Brooklyn Wewe each had a pair of hits, while Bartlett drove in two runs. Korri Lies struck out seven to improve to 12-0 on the year in the circle.
Cheney (22-1), the No. 1 seed, opens State tournament play Thursday at 5 p.m. against Rock Creek (15-8) on Field A at the Twin Oaks Complex in Manhattan. The winner of that contest faces either fourth-seeded Holcomb (20-3) or No. 5 Hoisington-Central Plains (19-4) at 11 a.m., again on Field A.
The loser of that game plays for third on Field B at 1 p.m., while the winner plays for the State title at 1:30 p.m. on Field A.
“We are anxious to play and prove that we deserve to be there,” Johnson said. “We are focused and want to continue with the game plan we have had these last couple weeks. I am so proud of each girl on our team and they have really worked hard to get back to State.”
Kingman 000 200 0 – 2 5 2
Cheney 000 212 x – 5 9 0
W – Lies.