Less than 24 hours after enjoying their first-ever conference championship, the Richmond Lady Spartan softball team felt the pain of having their season end Wednesday in the first round of the Class 3, District 15 tournament.
The No. 4 seeded Lady Spartans could not get the offense going at Excelsior Springs as they dropped a 4-1 heartbreaker to fifth-seeded St. Pius.
Richmond Coach Staci Maddux said her team just did not play their best game, but it couldn’t put a damper on a great season.
“We didn’t hit the ball the way we had and sometimes that happens,” she said. “You just hope it’s not the last game of the year, but they’ve had so many great accomplishments this year and they have a lot to be proud of. They won a conference championship, and no other team has been able to do that.”
Richmond could manage just 7 hits off Warrior pitcher Mallory Schulenberg.
The St. Pius sophomore kept the Lady Spartan batters off balance – using her changeup in key situations.
“We just don’t hit the changeup very well,” Maddux said. “I try to get them to let the ball go with less than two strikes, and then with two strikes do something with it, but for some reason it just freezes them.”
Schulenberg ended the game with 6 strikeouts, and did not walk a batter.
St. Pius got 4 of its 6 hits off Richmond starter Hayley Clubine. Clubine walked one and struck out 3 while surrendering 3 runs. Whitney Martens entered with two outs in the third inning and finished the final 3 frames with a pair of strikeouts while giving up 2 hits and 2 walks.
The Warriors did their damage in the bottom of the third inning on 4 singles and an error with Hannah Arrendondo and Jenna Prather driving in one run each.
Richmond finally broke through in the bottom of the fourth inning with Megan Phipps leading off with a single, followed by another single from Clubine.
Phipps then scored on Stephanie Williams’ one-out single, but the Lady Spartans could do no more damage.
Richmond got a two-out single in the fifth from Hannah Alpers, a leadoff single in the sixth by Clubine, and a one-out single from Chelsea Hook in the sixth, but that would be all the offense could do.
The Lady Spartans end the season with the MRVC East title after winning nine of 10 league games, and an overall mark of 17-8.
PHOTO: Richmond second baseman Katie Spiers tosses the ball to first to force the St. Pius runner while shortstop Kayla Hewitt (21) covers second. (Photo by Russ Green/The Daily News)