It was HOT and it was HUMID in Council Grove, Kansas as the 12U All-Stars from Southern Plains battled through tough conditions and five games in their bid to advance to the 12U World Series in Florida in a week’s time. Despite battling admirably through pool play and making it into the bracket tournament out of 10 teams competing in the regionals, they would be eliminated by the regional runner-up, Cottonwood Valley, KS, in a heartbreaking 3-0 defeat. Mineral Springs, Missouri would be the eventual Midwest Regional Champions and will travel to Florida as our representatives in the 12U division.
Only six teams made it into bracket play after the first two days of pool play. Southern Plains would emerge #3 from the pool, good enough to move them into the bracket.
Pool play was grueling as their first opponent was Mid-Central, KS who defeated the SP group, 19-3 as the locals were a little rattled in playing in such a huge tournament committing 8 errors in the game. Faith Johnson would be the only player to hit effectively for Southern Plains; Stephanie Framel would contribute some quality at bats in the game. The pitching for Kansas was tough and SP only managed 2 hits in the game. The SP pitchers were Stephanie Framel and Tess Johnson.
In the second game of Pool B play, the SP group got it together and put a convincing, 20-2, win together over the host team, Council Grove, Kansas. In this game, Southern Plains blasted 11 runs across the plate in the first inning and followed up with one more in the second and 8 more in the third. They would have only eight hits total but walked a number of batters, and Council Grove committed a number of errors. The pitching was a team effort in this game with Framel, Tess Johnson, and Sydney Dickey all taking the mound for one inning. Kyra Sheridan would contribute 4 RBI’s in the game while Framel and Maddie McDowell would add two more apiece.
Pool B play continued and Southern Plains suffered another setback; this time at the hands of Centennial, Colorado, a team they saw in the state tournament. This was a story of errors again for Southern Plains. Centennial would get a big win with 11 hits, 17-2. Framel and Dickey shared responsibility for the loss. Southern Plains would only have four hits in the game which resulted in just two runs.
The final Pool B game for Southern Games was a win and that victory qualified them for bracket play on Saturday night. The win came, 12-5, over a good Winfield, Kansas team. Dickey would put in 3 strong innings and Framel would close with two more. Dickey had four strike outs. Kopasz and McDowell helped their team offensively with two and one RBIs respectively. Both teams had four hits but the Kansas team committed eight errors; way too many to win a game.
Southern Plains put in their best game of the tournament in the bracket quarterfinals as they lost a heartbreaker, going the distance, 3-0, to the eventual regional runner-ups, Cottonwood Valley. This was a pitcher’s duel with Framel going the distance and getting four strike outs for her efforts. She would give up 7 hits which would be enough to score some runs. Southern Plains could not figure out how to hit against the Kansas top pitcher and would only get one hit from Framel while Gekeler walked twice and Kopasz was on base once. This would be the type of game that gives softball a great name as the competitive pitching and excellent playmaking resulted in a fan’s delight to watch.
The bracket was single elimination which meant the loss to Cottonwood Valley eliminated Southern Plains from the regional tournament and abruptly ended their summer ball adventure. However, these girls learned about the sport of softball, traveled a good many miles to different venues, and met many people they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet had it not been for the sport they all love. And the best part about an experience like this is the girls will enter school and compete against each other in their respective districts, but they will always, always be friends.