Salina South made its return to the Kansas Class 5A State Softball Tournament on Thursday, making its first appearance since 2017. It wouldn’t be a one-and-done deal for the Cougars, thanks to some stellar pitching and timely defensive plays.
The Cougars, the 7-seed in the bracket, upended the 2-seed Basehor-Linwood by a 2-1 score in front of a near capacity Crowd at Wichita State’s Wilkins Stadium.
The Bobcats scored one run off a pair of walks and a single in the bottom of the first inning, but South ace Araceli Rivas would shut out BLHS the remainder of the game.
The Cougars would answer back with two runs of their own in the top of the second, off a hit batter, a fielder’s choice, and a single. Scoring the go-ahead run off a wild pitch to take their first (and only) lead of the day.
Rivas was the story on the day, pitching a complete game, striking out a dozen, and overcoming a tight strike zone to strand 13 baserunners on the day and send her team to the State Semifinals for the 12th time in school history.
The Bobcats would threaten a multitude of times, but perhaps their best chance came in the 5th inning, when a two out single by Addison Murphy appeared to be enough to score the game-tying run. Brookelyn Webb disagreed. The senior Left Fielder delivered a laser beam from the outfield into the glove of Catcher Lily Bartley, who tagged out the runner and ended the inning.
A pair of Rivas strikeouts in the bottom of the 7th brought South to the brink of victory, only for it to be written in permanent marker on the bracket thanks to a sharp ground out to Third Baseman Maliyah Koster, who tossed the final out to First Baseman Baylee Brin, sending the Cougars on.
South (16-7) moves on to the 5A State Semifinals on Friday, where they will meet up with the defending State Champion Valley Center Hornets, who defeated Pittsburg in the only lopsided game on the 5A bracket Thursday, an 11-1 win.
The game is set for a 1 PM start time, following the first game of the day between 4-seed Goddard-Eisenhower and 8-seed Shawnee Heights, who ousted top seed Bishop Carroll in the Quarterfinals. Fans can tune in to both Salina South matchups on Friday live on Y93.7 FM, and online at KSAL.com HERE.