Pioneer softball caps regular season at Turner Tournament

Pioneer report
Shown is Leavenworth junior pitcher/shortstop Kaylee McLain.

KANSAS CITY, KS – Leavenworth softball capped their 2021 regular season with a 1-2 showing during action from the Turner Tournament Friday at Steineger Field.

The Pioneers, who finished the season with a .500 record at 10-10 overall, dropped games to Pittsburg (5-2) in extra innings and Shawnee Mission South (14-5), before routing Turner in the nightcap (17-6).

“Landri (Lopez) and Kaylee (McLain) do a great job in the circle, but our defense needs to keep taking steps in the right direction to help our pitchers out,” head coach Kaci Tillery said. “On offense, we need to be more aggressive on first-pitch strikes. We are a young team and have made progress throughout the season. We have an excellent group of kids that love to play together, and they are enjoyable to coach.”

Against Pittsburg, the Pioneers again followed the strong pitching of Lopez as the junior right-hander was able to work around multiple defensive miscues, striking out eight while limiting the Dragons (12-6) to five hits and one earned run in nine innings in the circle.

Pittsburg jumped on the board first in the top half of the fifth inning, when the Dragons took advantage of two errors and a triple to go ahead 2-0. Leavenworth would cut the lead in half in the bottom of the sixth inning when freshman Paradise Wright would reach on a fielder’s choice; sophomore Paci Tate would single, and junior Ingrid Mackey would drive Wright home with an RBI single to center.

One inning later, Leavenworth would even the score to force extra innings after McLain raced home on junior Jewel Lake’s RBI single.

Both teams were quiet on offense in the eighth inning before shaky defense again reared its head for the Pioneers in the ninth when three errors despite no batted balls leaving the infield led to three unearned runs, sealing the game for the Dragons.

Leavenworth would drop their second game of the day to Shawnee Mission South, again succumbing to multiple errors in the field, losing 14-5.

The Pioneers would right the ship in the nightcap of the tournament, slugging out 17 hits, en route to a convincing 17-6 victory against the host Golden Bears.

Lopez (8-5) earned the win in the circle, tossing a complete seven innings, limiting the Golden Bears to six hits and one earned run while striking out 10, while again pitching around a tight strike zone and a handful of defensive miscues.

After Turner jumped out to a 2-1 edge through three frames of play; Leavenworth would take the lead for good in the visitor’s half of the fourth. McLain would start the rally with a line-drive single, followed by an RBI double by Lopez. Wright would then single past the shortstop to plate Lopez before freshman Jada Eagle would race home on junior Taylor Noberto’s ground ball.

That inning would ignite the Pioneer offense, as the team erupted for multiple scores in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. Leavenworth would plate three runs in the fifth inning, highlighted by Eagle’s bases-loaded, bases-clearing double. The sixth saw the Pioneers score four runs, highlighted by senior Mikayla Garrison’s two-RBI line-drive single. The seventh saw the visitors put the game out of reach with a six-spot, highlighted by McLain’s two-run home run over the fence in left.

Leading the Pioneers at the plate in the finale were Garrison (3-for-4, BB, 3 runs, 3 RBIs), McLain (4-for-6, HR, 5 runs, 3 RBIs), Lopez (4-for-6, 2B, run, 2 RBIs), Eagle (3-for-5, 2B, run, 3 RBIs), Wright (2-for-5, run, 4 RBIs), and Lake (1-for-5, run).

Leavenworth will now await their regional assignment with play beginning the week of May 17th.