LAWRENCE, Kan. — For the second time in four years, the Frontenac Raiders can claim the honor as softball state champions.
Eighth-seeded Frontenac (20-6) and sixth-seeded Silver Lake (21-5) traded runs before the Raiders broke a 5-all tie with two runs in the sixth to rally past the Eagles 7-5 to clinch the Class 3A state championship on Monday at Free State High School.
“This is amazing,” Frontenac coach Cassie Rhuems said via telephone. “It feels just as good, if not better, than it did the first time. I feel like our kid worked from the bottom up and really bought in to what we needed to do. It has been a great run for these kids.
“It was crazy how similar the circumstances were this year compared to a few years ago,” Rhuems said. “We were the seventh seed in 2016, and we came in as the eighth seed this year. We knocked off the No. 1 seed on the first day to really gain some momentum. I think our kids understand that it doesn’t matter what (seeding) they put in front of Frontenac, we are going to bring a darn-good team to the tournament and fight until the end. That’s exactly what these kids did.”
This is the first state title in Class 3A for the Raiders, who last won a state title in 2016 when Frontenac defeated Haven 13-5 to win the Class 4A-DII state championship.
Karma Fields gave the Raiders the lead in the sixth with a one-out, go-ahead double to center field to score Emma Jessip to make the score 6-5. Madison Davis singled in the next at-bat to score Heather Arnett and push Frontenac’s lead to 7-5.
On top of leading the Raiders at the plate with two doubles and a team-high three RBI, Fields also earned the win in the circle, allowing five runs, one earned, on nine hits, two walks and a strikeout in seven innings of work.
“She has proven herself capable of anything, and it showed in the championship game,” Rhuems said. “She has grown so much. … She really put the team on her back and was mentally stable the entire game. … That is the true character of a competitor.”
Fields’ first double came in the top of the fifth on a ball to left field that scored Morgan Hipfl to give Frontenac a 3-2 lead.
Abby Pressgrove took the loss after allowing seven runs, three earned, on eight hits, three walks and six strikeouts in seven innings.
Arnett had two hits in four at-bats, scoring a team-high three runs in the process. Bailey Rhuems also added two hits, while Jessip scored twice in the win.
Lexi Cobb, who tripled, and Ellie Hogle each had two hits, while Taylor Burkhardt doubled and scored twice on the way to three hits.