SHAWNEE — The Savanna Lady Bulldogs ran out every grounder. They sprinted after every pop-fly or foul ball, and they covered every bag on every potential bunt.
The Lady Dawgs just ran into a slightly deeper, slightly stronger softball team in the Dale Lady Pirates.
Dale pitcher Erin Harris pitched a complete-game two-hitter while catcher Lacey Hood hit a key two-run home run, helping the Lady Pirates beat the Lady Dawgs in Saturday’s 2A state championship, 3-2, at the Ball Fields at Firelake in Shawnee.
Savanna starting pitcher Bryn Houlton struggled with the game’s tight strike zone, walking five Dale hitters and looking increasingly frustrated as the game went on. A walk to Harris to start the bottom of the third inning proved especially harmful, as one batter later Hood crushed a pitch over the left-field wall to make it 3-0 Lady Pirates.
“I was just hoping for a strike,” Hood said. She added that because Houlton threw it away so often, Hood waited for an inside pitch and then swung.
Houlton also walked Danielle Manning to lead off the bottom of the first. Houlton erased Manning by getting Harris to ground into a fielder’s choice at second, but Jaelin Flewallen doubled to deep left to score Harris and put Dale up 1-0.
“She made a typical senior mistake,” Savanna coach Angie Wilson said of Houlton.
“As a senior, you think you have to do a little bit more, and you have the whole world on your shoulders out there. I just think she tried to overcompensate for the lack of corners at the plate.”
Houlton pitched her last game for the Lady Dawgs. With her as the team’s ace, Savanna went to back-to-back championship games, made three consecutive trips to the state tournament and won both the Pitt 8 tournament and conference all four years.