OVERLAND PARK — A two-run top of the seventh inning in Game 2 helped the Labette Cardinals save a split of a series at Johnson County on Saturday. The Cavaliers won Game 1 4-1 before the Cardinals came back and won the second game 5-4.
“I saw a lot of good things as far as our team coming together and fighting through the last out,” Labette head coach Ryan Phillips said. “We had some calls that didn’t go our way, but we kept battling. It was nice to see them come out with a split salvaged, especially playing a tough team on the road.”
The two wins keep the Cardinals within striking distance of Highland in the race for the KJCCC title. Labette is now 18-4 in conference play and 27-13 overall. Johnson County moved to 20-6 and 25-13 respectively.
Highland has a 21-3 mark in conference play, one less loss than Labette. The Cardinals host Highland on Tuesday in a series that will determine who has the inside track to the KJCCC crown in the last week of the season.
“I think our kids are pretty excited to have the opportunity to play such a great team in Highland,” Phillips said. “They realize there’s a large significance to it. We can’t overlook the two series after Highland.”
Labette is scheduled to play Fort Scott on the road and then host Allen to wrap up its regular season. Highland has a ranked Cowley in a home series on Thursday then a Saturday trip to Hesston.
“We have proven that we can beat anybody on any given day,” Phillips said. “If we sweep and end up losing to Fort Scott or Allen, it is what it is. But we’re going to put our best foot forward.”
Labette moved up to No. 10 in the latest NJCAA rankings, released Monday. Highland is No. 7 in the nation.
Two of Highland’s pitchers, Lilli Weir and Crystal Feldkamp, have ERAs under three. As a team, the Scotties bat .375, have stolen 111 bases this season and average just over nine runs per game.
“I’m usually a stylistic coach, and our style is to just go out and play our game,” Phillips said. “We can match with any pitcher. Our offense can beat anybody on any given day. Our pitchers are the same. They can throw their best pitcher and we’ll throw ours.”
Labette has just one KJCCC title in its history in 2011. An inside track to a second conference crown is at stake on Tuesday.
“You’ve got to score and it doesn’t matter how it comes,” Phillips said. “We’re doing a better job of utilizing the short game and be able to put pressure on teams that way. Highland can hit just as well as they can pitch it. They’re the best team in the conference for a reason. So it should be a fun game to watch if both teams play well.”
JOHNSON COUNTY VS. LABETTE
Johnson County 4, Labette 1
Labette: 000 000 1 — 1
Johnson: 020 002 x — 4
Labette: Morgan Schmidt 1 RBI; Keira Jackson 1 H; Coralys Santiago-Pomales 1 H; Chloee Sams 2 H, 1 R; Winter Snyder 1 H; Jadeyn Wyrick (L) 6 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Johnson County: Nigh 1 H, 1 R; Griffith 2 H, 2 R, 2 RBI; Martin 1 R; Walker 1 H, 2 RBI; Etter (W) 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
Labette 5, Johnson County 4
Labette: 100 200 2 — 5
Johnson: 103 000 0 — 4
Labette: Morgan Schmidt 3 H, 2 R; Karlee Kinder 1 H; Coralys Santiago-Pomales 1 H, 1 R, 1 RBI; Grey Holland 1 H, 1 R; Halle Boyd 1 H, 1 R, 2 RBI; Chloee Sams 1 H; Winter Snyder 1 H, 2 RBI; Natalie Oxendine 1 H; Layney Steging (W) 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 3 K; Katelyn Kotlarz 1 Ip, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
Johnson County: Peck 1 R; Baldwin 2 H, 1 R; Enneking 1 R; Watkins 1 H, 1 R, 2 RBI; Griffith 2 H, 1 RBI; Thomas 1 H; Ellen (L) 7 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K