Everything about Kasey Hamilton’s state line suggested she was almost unhittable.
The Washburn Rural starting pitcher entered Friday morning’s semifinals with a 13-0 record, 0.40 ERA and 70 strikeouts.
Derby bats stung the KU signee for 10 hits and five earned runs, but couldn’t complete its rally in a 6-5 loss. It was playing in its first state semifinal in six years, but fell just short of playing for its first state championship.
Highlights from @KSHSAA 6A 🥎 between Derby and Washburn Rural:Last play of the semifinal game as Washburn Rural advances to the state title game.@themattgalloway | @peterson_rick pic.twitter.com/cTnQEnGbXx— Spectrum Sports KC (@SpecSportsKC) May 24, 2019
The Panthers outhit the Junior Blues 10 to 4, but couldn’t overcome six stranded baserunners.
“We played some great defense, but they put all their hits together at once,” coach Christy Weve said. “It stinks though because someone mentioned that we hit [Hamilton] better than anyone had all year.”
Gabby Martin (3-for-4) was a thorn in Hamilton’s side. The sophomore second baseman finished the postseason (8-for-12, five extra base hits) with a .666 batting average.
Senior Madi Young hit a triple to open the game and came around to score after a Washburn Rural error. It would be the only run to cross the plate for Derby until the sixth inning.
After the Panthers batted in the first, an hour-long rain delay commenced before play resumed in the bottom half. Washburn Rural first baseman Olivia Bruno hit her second two-run home run of the tournament to give it a 2-1 lead shortly after.
Hamilton’s solo home run pushed it to 3-1 before it scored three more off of walks, a hit batter and a fielder’s choice.
Freshmen Sophia Depew and Morgan Haupt pitched valuable innings in relief (4.1 innings) to keep the game within reach
“They were awesome and came in and did what we asked them to do,” Weve said. “They took a couple breaths, had some confidence and it’s just a bright future for our pitching staff [with three underclassmen].”
In the sixth, junior Halle Rico and Martin opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Paxton followed the pair with an infield single of her own, scoring Rico and cutting the game to a 6-2 Washburn Rural lead.
Senior Courtney Cline was walked to load the bases with two outs and Young followed by knocking in two runs on a single. Junior Mariah Wheeler sent a sharp grounder to second allowing Cline to score, but Young was thrown out at home trying to tie the game.
“I saw Weve saying, ‘go, go, go!’ so I ran as hard as I could,” Young said. “At that time, I guess it wasn’t right for us.”
Derby was retired in order to end the game in the top of the seventh. The Panthers’ five seniors cap their career with four trips to state and a 74-13 career record.
“Our girls have fought no matter what,” Young said. “Our team is for each other and I’ve been preaching this season to do it for the person next to you. That’s what we’ve been working on and we got that done.”