Jeremy Gaston/Herald-Chronicle

Jeremy Gaston | Sports Editor

OSAGE CITY—It was a big Tuesday in Osage City last week for the hosts.

The Osage City Lady Indians’ softball team cut a clear path to this week’s Class 3A State Tournament in Manhattan, but had their share of speed bumps along the way.

This week they hope to learn from and improve upon their experience at the regional level.

After taking a first round bye as the No. 1 seed, Osage City’s postseason trip began with a 3-2 win over Council Grove. It was a game they knew they could win, but not necessarily one they expected to be trailing in at times.

“I expected it to be a close game,” said Osage City Coach Tammy Serna. “It’s hard to beat anyone three times. They kind of knew what to expect from us, and we knew what to expect from them.”

Osage City tied the game 2-2 after trailing by a run in the middle innings. It just took them and extra inning to advance the winning run, finishing up in the bottom of the eighth.

“We played pretty solid defense,” Serna said. “It just came down to hitting and pitching.”

Pitching they had, as Carly Spicer threw a solid eight innings, striking out 15 of the 30 batters she faced, with 5 hits, no walks and 2 earned runs.

Hitting was average, as the Lady Indians successfully put 10 balls into play. Leah Garland led the way with a 3 for 4 average, all doubles, as she rounded the bases twice. Keely Giesy had a single and a double for 2 RBIs. Lauren Poerner had the other RBI, and Kate Garland had the other run.

The Lady Indians followed with a more one-sided win in the finals, delivering a 6-0 blow to Central Heights in the regional finals. The game, however, was close throughout, as Osage City led by just one run through much of it.

“Our bats finally came around in the sixth inning, so that helped,” Serna said. “In the sixth inning. Did I say that?”

Serna lets out a nervous laugh when recalling the game nearly a week later.

“They had me sweating there a little bit,” she said. “That’s just kind of the way we’ve been all year. We’ve just waited to hit later, and these last four games we’ve come out a little slower than usual.”

Albeit late, the Lady Indians’ batting was consistent to the previous game with 9 hits – 7 singles and 2 doubles. Katie Schroeder had a double and a single for 2 RBIs; Spicer had a single for 2 RBIs; Deidra Jones had a double and a single; and Leah Garland and Poertner each had a single for an RBI.

See Softball | 4B

Spicer also remained consistent, striking out 11 of 23 batters with just 1 hit, no walks and no runs after facing 53 batters in 15 innings.

“She had 26 strikeouts for the day,” Serna said. “So she must have handled it fine.”

Her reward? A 10-day break to rest up before playing in the state tournament this weekend. In the meantime, the Lady Indians awaited the completion of the other seven regional softball tournaments. As they finished up, the state bracket came together.

“I’m happy with the drawings of the bracket,” Serna said. “I really didn’t want to play any teams from around here right in the beginning. That’s never really worked out for us. It seems like when we go to state and play teams we haven’t seen, that’s when we do better.”

The fourth-seeded Lady Indians (21-2) drew the Tri-Valley League’s Caney Valley (19-1) for their first-round game.

“In the past, we’ve played Silver Lake and Mission Valley first round,” Serna said. “The one year we played teams we didn’t know anything about, we got third. So I’m kind of excited about playing somebody we’ve never seen before.”

Serna was also happy to see two of the teams she was less excited about on the other side of the bracket, and playing each other in the first round.

“We’re not on St. Marys side, or Riverton, who were the 4A Champs last year, so that’s good for us,” She said.

Osage City begins the Class 3A State Softball Tournament in Manhattan with Caney Valley at 7 p.m. Friday on Field A of the Twin Oaks Complex. A win would advance them to the semifinals at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The tournament wraps up with the third-place game at noon on Field B, followed by the state championship on Field A.

The Lady Indians would like to still be playing at that point.

“That’s a goal,” Serna said. “It’ just comes down to how we play…and hitting. That’s something we’re going to work on all week.”