How about those Fillies!

Fillies win 4A regional title, state bound

By JOCELYN SHEETS
Register Sports Editor

Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Iola High’s Fillies celebrate winning their first Kansas Class 4A Regional Softball Championship. The Fillies defeated Paola 2-1 in Tuesday’s regional title game in Garnett. Members of the winning team headed to the 2009 Kansas Class 4A State Softball Tournament are (left to right), front row, Codi Ellis, Jenna Sigg, Kylie Taylor, Morgan Buchholz; second row, Leah Weir, Amanda Carr, Megan Cook, Lyndsi Faulhaber, Kylee McKarnin, Molly Riebel, Shelby Greenwood; back row, head coach Vince Coons, Brandi Preston, Alyssa Rouse, Alex Hill, assistant coach Maria Hernandez.
Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Iola High third baseman Jenna Sigg fields a ball and throws out a Paola batter at first base in the regional championship game Tuesday at Garnett.
Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Ringing up a strike — the plate umpire calls a strike as Iola High catcher Kylie Taylor is set to uncork a throw to second base and a Fort Scott High batter watches the action in the field. Iola beat Fort Scott 2-1 in a semifinal game Tuesday at the Kansas Class 4A Regional Softball Tournament in Garnett.

GARNETT — Two Paola High batters. Two outs. Iola High’s Fillies hit a little speed bump — a walk — on their way to a first-ever regional softball championship.
Iola was protecting a one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh of the championship game Tuesday in Garnett. No problem.
With the tying run at first base, Paola’s Cheyenne Rankin popped the ball up right in front of the pitcher’s mound. No problem.
Alex Hill, Iola’s junior pitcher, called for the ball. She came in a few steps towards home plate, kept her eyes on the softball in the air then squeezed her glove tight as the ball settled in the web of the glove.
“We’re going to state,” could be heard all over Field A at the Garnett Sports Complex as the Fillies upended the defending regional champion Panthers, 2-1.
Iola High’s Fillies had two historic victories Tuesday to capture the 2009 Kansas Class 4A Regional Softball Championship and a trip to the 2009 Kansas Class 4A State Softball Tournament.
In the five-year history of Iola High softball, a regional championship game, a regional championship and a state tournament berth are all firsts for the program.
“I’m so happy. I’m so happy,” said senior catcher Kylie Taylor. “I’m so happy.”
“This is great. I have goosebumps. See,” said senior right fielder Codi Ellis.
“We never gave up and played well together,” said senior second baseman Morgan Buchholz.
“It feels great and amazing to be regional champions and going to state,” said senior third baseman Jenna Sigg. And...
“We’re so happy.” the four seniors said in unison, and they couldn’t stop smiling.
Hill, who pitched all three victories in the regional tournament for Iola, said she was nervous after walking Paola’s Rachel Hanf.
“Then we got the next batter to pop up and when I closed my glove with the ball in it for the final out, my heart flipped,” Hill said.
“I was confident today going into both games. Our team has been playing good defense behind me. It was sweet to beat Fort Scott in the semifinals.”
Iola met fellow Southeast Kansas League team Fort Scott in the semifinals. The teams had staged a very, very long SEK doubleheader a week ago. Fort Scott winning in a 16-inning first game, 3-2, then Iola won 4-2 in the second game.
The Fillies claimed a 2-1 win over the Tigers in Tuesday’s semifinals. Both teams produced a run in the first inning.
In the fourth inning, Iola’s Molly Riebel singled with one out and stole second base. With two gone, Hill ripped a singled to center to drive in the go-ahead run, which proved to be the winning run.
As for the championship game with Paola, Iola scored the first run. It came in the third inning as Ellis singled then moved to third on two straight wild pitches by Paola’s Kylee Mader.
Taylor smashed a line drive down the first base line for an RBI single. Paola was able to shut the Fillies down after that in the inning.
Hill and the Fillies’ defense held the Panthers hitless until the fifth inning. Mackenzie Hallstrom drove a pitch deep to right field. Ellis came in on the ball but it got past her glove.
Hallstrom had a leadoff triple. Hallstrom scored the tying run on a wild pitch. Austin Boehm drew a one-out walk but Hill got Rankin to fly out to center field and struck out Kayla Offutt.
“I was disappointed in not making that catch in the fifth inning. I was glad to be able to come up in the seventh and get a hit,” Ellis said.
The Fillies had the go-ahead run a third with two outs in the sixth but couldn’t get a hit. Paola had a runner on with one out in its half of the sixth.
Hill struck out Mader then got Melanie Golubski to pop out to Kylee McKarnin at first base to end the inning.
With one gone in the seventh, Ellis powered a single up the middle to center field. Taylor connected and was safe on a fielder’s choice with Ellis out at second.
Amanda Carr went in to run for Taylor. Shortstop Lyndsi Faulhaber came to the plate. She had led off the game with a single.
Faulhaber drove a pitch to left field. It was fair but hooking towards the foul line as Paola’s left fielder Boehm raced to make a play.
Boehm got a glove on the ball but didn’t catch it and was carried to the fence. Carr raced from first to the plate to score as Faulhaber pulled into second base with a double.
“I was a nervous wreck. I just knew she was going to catch it,” Faulhaber said after the game. “We just kept playing defense and never got down in either game.”
Paola’s Hallstrom popped up to McKarnin for the first out of the bottom of the seventh inning. Boehm was out on a grounder to Sigg , who threw to first.
“One, two. I missed that pop foul on the next batter,” Taylor said. Hanf had hit a foul ball behind the plate that Taylor wasn’t able to catch.
Hanf walked and Hill faced Rankin.
“We were living on the rise ball,” said Taylor of the final pitch of the game.
“This was the best defensive game we’ve played this season.”
Hill threw a one-hitter against Paola, which was the top-seeded team coming into the tournament. Hill walked three and struck out two. Iola had one error.
Faulhaber had a single and a double and Ellis hit two singles. Taylor, Hill and Sigg each had a base hit.
“We were nervous in the seventh inning,” Sigg said. “Beating Fort Scott to get here was great.”
“What a super performance by this team. We had great pitching, defense and timely hitting,” said Vince Coons, Fillies’ head coach.
“This group has stayed dedicated to this program and worked exceptionally hard. They pulled together as a team for this extraordinary honor of going to 4A state.”
In the semifinal with Fort Scott, Brandi Preston was safe on a dropped third strike to open the game. She went to second on a passed ball and stole third base.
Buchholz delivered a double down the third-base line to drive in the run. Fort Scott came back to tie it up in the bottom of the first.
Hill held Fort Scott to four hits and walked two and hit a batter. She struck out 11.
Megan Cook made a running catch in left field in the sixth. Ellis and Riebel had catches center and right.
The Fillies retired Fort Scott in order in the seventh inning to win the game.
Riebel and Hill each had two singles in the game. Buchholz doubled and Cook singled.