Patience pays off as Pioneers draw 32 walks in sweep of Atchison

Pioneer report

ATCHISON – It was a tale of opposites for the Leavenworth Pioneers softball team versus Atchison. Fortunately for Leavenworth, in both cases, the team found themselves on the right side of the scoring column during road diamond action here Thursday afternoon.

Leavenworth (8-6) took advantage of a staggering 32 walks over the two games en route to double-digit run outputs in each game of the doubleheader. Atchison would have no such luck with the visiting squads’ hurlers, headlined by Landri Lopez. The junior righthander continued her dominant 2021 campaign, earning both victories while matching her season high in strikeouts with 21. Lopez limited the home team to only three hits and three walks in 10.2 innings in the circle. With this latest effort, Lopez (6-3) lowered her season ERA to a paltry 0.95 while increasing her strikeout total to 89 in 59 innings pitched.

Junior Kaylee McLain again led the Pioneers on offense finishing the day going 4-for-5 with a triple, two doubles, four walks, five runs scored and a whopping eight runs batted in. For the season, McLain leads the Pioneers in all major offensive categories, including batting a sizzling .563 (27-for-48), with five triples, 12 doubles, 22 runs scored and 26 runs batted in.

In the first game, the Pioneers struck early, plating one run in the opening frame when McLain reached base after being hit by a pitch, stole second, and advanced home on a fielding error. Leavenworth put four more scores on the board in the second, when junior Taylor Norberto (HBP) trotted home on sophomore Paci Tate’s RBI single up the middle.

After senior Mikayla Garrison coaxed a walk, both she and Tate raced home on McLain’s first line-drive double of the day.

After the Redmen took advantage of three Pioneer defensive miscues and a tight strike zone for two unearned runs in their half of the second, Leavenworth put the game out of reach in the top of the third, when the team rode a deluge of walks, plating 12 runs on 13 bases on balls and only one hit.

Leavenworth would score four more runs in the fifth to bring the mercy rule into play.

The inning highlights included a two-RBI double by McLain and a triple by junior Jewel Lake.

Taking part in the offensive onslaught were the aforementioned McLain (2-for-2, 2 2B, BB, HBP, 4 runs, 5 RBI), Lopez (1-for-2, BB, HBP, run, 2 RBI), Lake (2-for-5, 3B, RBI), freshman Jada Eagle (run), freshman Paradise Wright (2 runs), Norberto (2 R), freshman Hailey Garcia (1-for-2, 3 runs, 2 BB), Tate (1-for-1, 4 R, 3 BB, RBI), and Garrison (4 BB, 4 runs, RBI).

The second game was competitive through three innings as the teams battled to a 3-3 tie. After a quiet first frame, Leavenworth plated three runs in the second, as Wright, Garcia and Tate all walked to load the bases. Garrison followed suit with an RBI base on balls of her own before McLain drove in two on another RBI double. Lopez then closed the scoring for the frame by lining an RBI single down the line in left field.

Atchison rallied with three of their own in the second, thanks to a pair of defensive miscues to tie the game with a one-out rally, before Lopez came in to strike out the next two batters and end the threat. The Pioneers would promptly put the game away in the top of the next inning as McLain again came through with a bases-clearing triple after junior Ingrid Mackey, Tate and Garrison all reached base via free pass. 

Leading Leavenworth at the plate in the second game was McLain (2-for-3, 3B, 2 BB, R, 3 RBI), Lopez (1-for-3, 2 BB, RBI), Lake (1-for-5), Eagle (2-for-5), Wright (1-for-4, R), Garcia (run), Mackey (2 runs), Tate (2 runs), and Garrison (4 BB, 2 runs).

Leavenworth will return home Monday to host the Shawnee Mission South Raiders. First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.