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Back-to-Back: Lady Pups Earn Second Straight Undefeated League Title


By: Joel Muhs, McPherson Sentinel

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MCPHERSON, Kan. ( – With the help of a thrilling nine-inning walk-off win, the McPherson High School softball team can call themselves undefeated AVCTL Division III champions for the second straight season following a doubleheader sweep of previously one-loss Mulvane Monday evening at Grant Complex.

Last season, the Lady Pups ran the gauntlet by achieving a perfect 10-0 record in league play to claim the AVCTL-III title. Heading into Monday’s doubleheader against Mulvane, McPherson needed just one win out of the two games to claim the league title over the Wildcats.

The Lady Pups did just that and did so in style, as McPherson walked-off game one in the ninth inning with an Alex Romero poke to shallow right field to score Karter Alvord from third, while game two saw the Lady Pups dominate from start to finish in a 10-1 win to pull off the sweep.

“I knew this was going to be a tough game and they battled, I’ve got to give it to them. We’d score then they’d score and they’d score and then we’d score,” McPherson head softball coach Danica Fitzmorris said about Monday’s battle with Mulvane. “I’m just proud of their fight. They didn’t stop. We could’ve been depressed because (Mulvane) came back so many times, and we just kept battling at the plate.”

After taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning that would last through the third, Mulvane knotted things up at 2-2 in the top of the fourth. However, an RBI single by Addison Chapman, an RBI sacrifice bunt by Kelcy Bergstrom and an RBI single by Haely Hagemann powered a three-run bottom half of the inning to help McPherson regain a 5-2 lead going into the fifth.

Chapman received the start in the pitcher’s circle for McPherson and went the full nine innings while giving up eight hits, nine runs (six earned) and five walks. The sophomore also struck out 14 Wildcats while batting 2-4 at the plate with one RBI and three runs scored.

“I felt like the plate was maybe a little tight tonight, which makes it hard because it’s easier to hit the ball and you’re not getting good counts so that makes it difficult,” Fitzmorris said on Chapman having to pitch against a tough strike zone throughout her nine innings of work. “We’re going to have to make sure we hit our low-in and our low-out and make him call a strike.”

A scoreless fifth inning by both teams kept the McPherson lead at three before four runs by the Wildcats in the top of the sixth broke open a 6-5 lead for Mulvane. McPherson responded by loading the bases with one out in the bottom half and scored two runs off a Hagemann fielder’s choice and another off an RBI single by Sayge Salmans to take an 8-6 lead into the final inning.

A walk and back-to-back doubles by Mulvane tied the game at eight-all before an RBI groundout resulted in a 9-8 Wildcat lead going into the bottom of the seventh, but the Lady Pups continued to stave off the Wildcats. Romero led off with a bunt for a single and would come full circle when she would score off a pass ball to tie the game at 9-9 and send it into extra innings.

The McPherson defense held strong in both extra innings, which included a double play by Bergstrom in the top of the ninth where the senior caught a missile to right field and gunned out the runner at second to put the bats back in McPherson’s hands and allow Romero to walk the game off.

Although game one sealed the undefeated league title for McPherson, the Lady Pups added to their success by using a strong pitching performance by Addie Herrera and big bats from Hagemann and Alvord to win game two 10-1.

Much like Chapman in game one, Herrera went the distance in the circle and allowed just five hits and one unearned run while striking out four batters. Herrera also showed off her ability at the plate in the win.

“Addie had better control of her ball. We’re working on first-pitch strike percentage so I’ll have to go look and see how she did there, but I feel like it was better,” Fitzmorris said about Herrera. “I got some people in that haven’t got to hit before. (Herrera) has not hit before in a game yet, so it’s nice to see that she can battle at the plate even against a pretty good pitcher.”

On the offensive end, Hagemann (4-4 with four runs scored and three RBIs) and Alvord (3-3 with one run scored and three RBIs) carried the load for McPherson as the duo reached base each at-bat. To go along with Hagemann’s .592 batting average and Alvord’s .460 average, the Lady Pups have two others near the .500 mark with Chapman at .482 and Salmans at .478.

“We just work every week on what we think is going to come out. We worked really hard on the rise ball this week because we knew she had a pretty good one and I felt like they adjusted pretty well to that,” Fitzmorris said.

Two McPherson runs in the first inning were scored off a Hagemann home run and an RBI double by Alvord, and a run by Mulvane in the top of the second resulted in a 2-1 McPherson lead going into the bottom of the second. However, the Lady Pups blew it open in the bottom of the second with five runs to take a 7-1 lead.

Another RBI double by Alvord in the fourth, an RBI single by Alvord in the sixth and an RBI hit by pitch by Herrera in the sixth polished off the scoring for McPherson as they would come away with the nine-run win for the sweep.

“I’m proud of their fight, their (ability to) learn and their stick with it,” Fitzmorris said after her team won the league title.

McPherson improves their season record to 14-2 and will look to bolster that record when they host a quad at Grant Complex on Friday. The first game will begin at 4:00 P.M.

McPherson Batting Stats:

Game 1: Addison Chapman – 2-4, 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB. Kelcy Bergstrom – 1-4, 1 RBI. Haely Hagemann – 2-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO. Sayge Salmans – 2-5, 3 RBI, 1 SO. Karter Alvord – 2-5, 1 R. Reanna Eilrich – 1-4. Ava Romero – 0-2, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SO. Alex Romero – 2-2, 1 R, 1 RBI. Olivia Cheatham – 1-3, 1 R. Cora Pavlovich – 0-3, 1 R, 1 SO. Team – 13-36, 10 R, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 4 SO.

Game 2: Chapman – 1-4, 1 R. Bergstrom – 1-4, 1 R. Hagemann – 4-4, 4 R, 3 RBI. Salmans – 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB. Malerie Cooper – 1 R. Alvord – 3-3, 1 R, 3 RBI. Eilrich – 2-2, 2 RBI, 2 BB. Herrera – 0-3, 1 RBI. Josie Fitzmorris – 0-4. Alex Romero – 1-4, 1 R. Team – 12-31, 10 R, 9 RBI, 3 BB, 0 SO.

McPherson Pitching Stats:

Game 1: Chapman – 9.0 IP, 8 H, 9 R, 6 ER, 14 SO, 5 BB.

Game 2: Herrera – 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 SO, 2 BB.