Lady Cats Take Districts, Move On To State

Adam Dean Howe
Contributing Writer
By Adam Dean Howe
Enterprise Staff
On a cool and wet Saturday morning and after two rain delays that totaled around one full hour, the Warsaw Lady Cats used a walk-off error to claim a dramatic, yet decisive victory over Calvary Lutheran to stake claim to their third straight district championship and propel themselves into the Sectional round of the Missouri State High School Athletic Association playoffs where they’ll take on Fatima at home on Wednesday night.
Calvary Lutheran got on the board in the first inning when they drew a leadoff walk, followed it with a hit two batters later and then their cleanup hitter launched a 3-run homer to deep left field with one out to give them a 3-0 lead. A 1-2-3 inning for the Lady Cats in the bottom of the first sent them down quick as chills went through the large Warsaw crowd that made the trek to rainy Versailles.
Both teams were held scoreless in the second inning, but the Lady Lions would add another run in the third when their cleanup batter came to the plate again, only to send another Kylee Fajen pitch over the left field fence to make the score 4-0.  The Lady Cats cut that lead in half in the bottom of the third inning though when Aspen Whitaker reached on an error by the Calvary Lutheran third baseman and then scored in the very next at-bat when Taylor Howe drove a double to left field.  Rayni Simons hit a ground ball in the next at-bat and Howe would race in to score from second when the ball was mishandled by the Lady Lions first baseman.  Errors or not, the Lady Cats took advantage and after three full innings were in the books, they trailed, but only 4-2.
Calvary Lutheran went quietly in the fourth frame, but so did Warsaw after another 1-2-3 inning.  Fajen struck out the Lady Lions leadoff batter in the fifth and then got two pop-ups to the left side to end the inning.  The Lady Cats got a 1-out double from Fajen in their half of the fifth and she would eventually advance to third on a passed ball, but that’s the furthest she would go as the Warsaw offense couldn’t bring her in and, after five, the score was still Lady Lions, 4 and the Lady Cats, 2.
At the end of the fifth inning, heavier rain moved in, the game was stopped and the crowd headed for shelter under eaves, buildings and ultimately, vehicles.  But after a brief delay, umpires resumed play at the top of the sixth inning and the Lady Lions would come roaring again.  A leadoff walk was followed by an error and then a sacrifice bunt after that moved runners to second and third for Calvary Lutheran.  Fajen recorded a big strikeout in the next at-bat but then both runners advanced on a wild pitch, one scored and the Lady Cats were behind, 5-2.  In the same at-bat, Calvary Lutheran’s hitter took a 3-1 pitch to deep left field for a 2-run homerun, the 7-2 lead and the Lady Cats could almost feel their hopes slipping away like the grips their fans had on their umbrellas.  Almost . . .
Aubrie McRoberts led off the Lady Cats half of the sixth with a single to the shortstop and then came in to score when Reagan Shelby laced a line drive to left field.  It was misplayed, McRoberts would score easily and Shelby made her way all the way to third base.  Kya Schepker took a walk on four straight pitches and then Payge Adair singled to center field to score Coskey (running for Shelby) and advance Schepker to second.  Kiersten Grobe reached on an error by the left fielder in her at-bat, Adair was forced out at second base, but the Lady Cats had runners on first and third with just one out.  In the next at-bat, Fajen would ground into a fielder’s choice that scored Schepker and Whitaker would bring Grobe around to score when she hit a fly ball to left field and it was dropped.  Howe flew out to end the inning, but the Lady Cats clawed their way back into the game and were now only down, 7-6.
Schepker made a rare relief appearance and came in and mowed down the Lady Lions in the seventh inning and, at the top of their order, the Warsaw dugout and crowd could feel the momentum shift.  Simons led off the inning by reaching on an error, much to the crowd’s delight, and then McRoberts drew a walk to give the Lady Cats runners at first and second with no outs.  Shelby would step into the box next and, after a wild pitch, Simons represented the tying run at third base and the winning run stood at second in the form of McRoberts.  Then, yea THEN, the rain moved in again . . .
The lengthy delay had the Warsaw hopeful in a bustle but not one would leave as they had seen their Lady Cats in this situation before.  Several would seek cover once again, but many would not leave their superstitious posts as they would anxiously await the game to be resumed, as rain continued to drench their layers.
After the heavy rain finally cleared, officials deemed the turf ready to go and play would be resumed.  Shelby swung at the first pitch and popped out to the second baseman and Schepker struck out, stranding the runners and leaving the game in the hands of Adair.  With an 0-1 count, she would hit a grounder up the middle, Simons crossed the plate, Adair legged out the play, the Lady Lions second baseman fielded the ball and made her throw, McRoberts rounded third, the throw skipped past the first baseman and McRoberts would score the winning run as the Lady Cats celebrated at home plate with another district championship.
“All I can say is ‘wow’,” Lady Cats coach Steve Larson exclaimed.  “I don’t know if we deserved to win, but somehow we got it done.”
Schepker notched the win for Warsaw.  She pitched 1 inning, gave up 0 hits and 0 runs and struck out 1 opposing batter.  Fajen started the game and threw the first six innings.  She surrendered 6  hits, 7 runs and struck out 7.
Larson went on to say, “Kya did a great job as our ‘closer’.  And Kylee pitched her heart out.”
Howe, McRoberts, Shelby, Adair and Fajen all had 1 hit apiece for the Lady Cats.  McRoberts scored 2 runs and 1 run each was scored by Howe, Simons, Coskey, Schepker, Grobe and Whitaker.
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The Lady Cats made quick work of Russellville on Thursday night en route to the district championship game as they disposed of them by an 11-1 final in just 5 innings.
Taylor Howe led off the bottom of the first with a double and then she scored when Rayni Simons traded places with her to make the score 1-0 after one inning.
Warsaw added another run in the second inning to make the score 2-0, but that lead was cut in half in the top of the third when the Lady Indians leadoff batter hit a homerun over the left field fence.  The Lady Cats would get that run back in the bottom of the third though when, after Kylee Fajen walked, Payge Adair singled to score her and Warsaw led, 3-1.
Russellville wouldn’t score again, but the Lady Cats would as they would put this one away early.  In the bottom of the fourth frame, Kya Schepker led off with a single and then, with 1 out, Simons would reach after getting hit with a pitch.  Aubrie McRoberts would hit a triple to center field to score both runs to make the score, 5-1, Lady Cats.  Reagan Shelby followed with a double to score McRoberts and then Fajen singled in Coskey (running for Shelby) and the Lady Cats held a moderately comfortable lead, 7-1, after four innings.
Warsaw would add four more runs in the bottom of the fifth to take the 11-1 “mercy” win and move on to the district championship.  Schepker, Howe, Simons, McRoberts, Shelby and Fajen all had hits in the inning.
Schepker led the offense by going 3-for-3 and she also scored 2 runs.  Simons was 2-for-3 with 2 runs and 1 RBI, Fajen was 2-for-3 with 1 run and 2 RBI’s.  Howe finished 2-for-4 with 2 runs and 2 RBI’s, McRoberts was 2-for-4 with 2 runs and 3 RBI’s and Shelby was 2-for-4 with 1 RBI.  Adair finished 1-for-3 with 1 RBI.
Fajen also got the win on the mound.  She pitched 5 complete innings, yielded just 2 hits and 1 run and struck out 7.